How should I respond when my Mom ask the same questions over and over? She typically ask if her husband died, which he did 6 months ago. She asks over and over. Later she may ask who he was. Another day it may be where is my cat? She will ask every few minutes for hours. The cat is only in the yard which my mom knows. Should I answer every time she ask or ignore her? She gets really angry so I do not want to make it worse.

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Every time my mom asks a question, I answer as if it's the first time she's asked. My mom--who is 92 and has Vascular Dementia--has maintained her sense of humor, so I'm able to joke with her a bit in my answers, which make her laugh and seem to break the cycle. For instance, if she is in a good mood and asks "What's for dinner?" the first time I'll answer "pot roast" the next time might be "brontosaurus burgers" or "elephant toes". She gets a kick out of that and will sometimes respond with something like, "Oh good--I'm really hungry!" and we both laugh (which I love to hear!). For other questions, I'll do the same, whether it's "where are we going?" (she gets a kick out of my response of "to the moon, Alice, to the moon!") or "why do I have to take these pills?" ("they'll put hair on your chest"). If she's not in a good/joking mood, of course I answer her honestly each time and I always try to re-direct afterwards. My mom and I share the same sense of humor, so this is what works best for us. I hope you can find a way to make things less frustrating for both of you. Hang in there!
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disgustedtoo Oct 2020
Great that your mom still has a good sense of humor and that you are able to answer and/or redirect her! May it always be like that for you!
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Well my first response to part of your questions is...
Mom does not "know" the cat is in the yard. She may have known but that information gets lost in a brain that no longer processes or retains information.
She does not "know" her husband died for the same reason.
She is getting angry for possibly 2 reasons.
She "knows" she should know the answer to the questions she is asking but is frustrated that she doesn't .
She is picking up on your frustration at being asked the same questions 10 to 15 times an hour.

So when you answer her question the second time rephrase the answer.
First time..
Mom: Where is the cat?
You: In the yard.
Second time...
Mom Where is the cat?
You: I don't know, I think I saw it in the yard, why don't we bring your chair over to the window so we can look for it.
Third time...
Mom: Where is the cat?
You: Mom, do you want a snack? Let's go get some yogurt.
You can find some way different to answer each time. One answer may not be processed but another might be.
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I work on this each time I see my Mom. My poor Dad has to deal with this 24/7/365 - not sure how he does it. Well, actually I do. He doesn't deal with it. He ishaving a hard time with his caretaker needed the care taking now.
My therapist explained it to me this way - it's like new information hits her forehead and falls to the floor, it never makes it into the part of the brain where memory happens. The old memories are there for now, but new stuff can't get in. That makes it easier for me to be a little more compassionate. But it's so sad. To answer the question, I agree with many who said to answer her, maybe change it up a little, and HUMOR. I really feel humor is a savior. While the situation isn't funny, I think a little humor sometimes is a Godsend. My Mom still has her sense of humor, so I do try to bring that out during our visits. It seems to work for both of us.
This is a hard disease to comprehend, at least sometimes it is for me. It's hard to understand how she doesn't know the obvious (today she asked me what date Halloween was or the other day she asked where I was going to have my garage sale, that we both had a laugh at)but when I think of the whole "new info hitting and falling to the floor", I kind of get it. Good luck to you in your journey.
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Momsonlychild Oct 2020
I love the new info hitting the floor. I need to remind myself of this often!
Please.... just answer her. My sister in law and I had the same problems. We don't live together and both our parents are gone. For awhile there if I asked her something or mentioned something she would give a snarky answer that she had already told me or I had already said that. It got to the point where I no longer came over to visit because of this. To me it was highly frustrating. I finally just came out and told her that in the time she told me she "already told me that" she could have just told me the answer. That if I remembered what the answer was I wouldn't be asking. Being on the other side of your question, being the one driving the other one nuts, I feel for your mom. I finally got to the point where I would say, "I may have already asked this but..." Or "I may have asked this before but..." which made her at least answer me in a civil manner. We get along a lot better now and I do my best not to drive her nuts and she does her best to answer my question.... And remember, if your mom knew the answers she keeps asking about she wouldn't be asking the questions.
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Answering her is also respecting her. Despite the repetition she truly cannot remember and she will only get very anxious if people don't answer or if she is repeatedly told that you already answered that question five times. Her inability to remember will, most likely, get worse. Just try to act friendly and loving despite both your sadness that your mom has lost some of her cognitive functioning and the annoyance. This is a hard lesson to learn but it will make both of your lives better if you just commit yourself to patience, positiveness, re-answering questions, try to redirect her attention to an activity or what you see out the window or look at old photos and talk about them, etc. Best of luck.
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Sarah3 Oct 2020
Another school of thought on this is the consideration that fixating or enabling them to fixate on one question produces more anxiety, not less, and that after several times of repeating a question it is more compassionate to gently redirect them to other things. I see the logic in this bc repeatedly going through that seems to increase anxiety, their mind is stuck fixating on it. Gently redirecting to new ideas or topics or activities helps release them from that anxious fixation onto fresh new ideas.
You can be caring and kind and also have some sort of boundary, if she asks more than two or 3 times some therapists advise using the tact of cheerfully saying something non committal such as “I know, mom- oh look at this the paper says it might rain later” it’s a way to get their mind off the track it’s stuck on- if one considers how being stuck on one question in anxiety isnt helpful to her or you, a gentle tactful redirection to other topics is a way of redirecting out of the spiral of fixating on the thing they’re stuck on at that moment, and also provides some relief however small for you, it’s like turning to a new page
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This has been a godsend for me. I like you have answered the same questions hundreds of times. My mom’s memory is about 10 seconds. One day I decided to make her a laminated sheet all about her and the questions she asked the most. When I’ve answered them all I care to I simply give her the sheet and she can read it as many times as she likes. Hope this helps!
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Wold you like to be ignored when you ask a question? Neither would anyone else. Your mom probably has Dementia and shirt term memory loss and doesn't remember asking tge question or what the answer.
So, when she asks you a question, answer her.

How many times as a little child did you ask all the Why questions, ect. Did she answer you or ignore you.

Treat her as you woukd want to be treated.
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Imho, I learned a long time ago to not say something akin to "You already said that" since they cannot help it. Prayers sent.
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Having lived through 10 years of dementia and then Alzheimers, I experienced the daily questions, some that were so far out I was not always able to answer. I tried to show him answers (our wedding pictures, and ones throughout the years; some important papers he initiated), and so on. There were many times I did not do housekeeping in order to sit with him and answer questions. I did have cleaning lady every 2 weeks, so cleaning was not an issue, just daily pick-up of papers, meal dishes, etc. He continued with his "job" of many years--cleaning dinner dishes, pots and pans, table, wiping counters. When he asked questions, I answered him, not worrying about fixing the checkbook until he took his daily naps, or running to the store, answering questions turned out to be all day when he was awake. Another way to keep him happy and interested in life, we visited a new ice cream shop, and he got his treat of his favorite ice cream every day. He was like a little kid, but a well behaved kid. In other words, I changed my life to take care of his. I didn't suffer. I took time during his many naps during the morning and afternoon to attend caregiver support groups (weekly and once a month), which helped me to care for him. While he slept I changed sheets, hung up laundry on hangers, picked up the family room, did computer work, wrote checks, etc. Sometimes when he wasn't sleeping I could get him to put papers away or throw them out. He hardly forgot to play Solitaire on his computer, so that was good, too, as his mind was thinking, despite being repetitious, it was keeping him busy. Later, when a first, new facility opened in our town, I enrolled him in Adult Day Care, letting me to shop, go to a luncheon or caregiving meeting, without worrying about him. I limited his hours to 4 hours, so he wouldn't become angry or think I abandoned him. I was told he mostly looked out the window looking for my car. But he did participate in some activities. He turned out to be a great "colorer", creating good pictures, which I still having hanging in my spare room. His colored picture of a bull dog is outstanding, right colors, shading, expressions and in the lines. This in he last 2 years of his life.
If you can afford at least a house cleaner only 1 x a month, it's better than none, keep up odds and ends during the day, take time with loved one to have fun, putting puzzles together, coloring, going over old pictures, going for ice cream (so what if it has cholesterol, they're old--let him/her enjoy life to the end).
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