irishspirit25 Asked August 2015

My Mom repeatedly asks the same questions over and over and I am losing my patience and mind. Any advice?

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I came up with techniques that would help her answer her own questions, like showing her how her cell phone would automatically give the date, time, and day of the week - instead of asking me every half hour. She has done pretty well with this, but recently she has reverted back to asking me what day it is, or where I'm going after I've told her a few minutes before. Interestingly, she doesn't seem to do this to anyone else. Is this because I'm with her most of the time?( I drive her to doctors appointment, shop for groceries, cook meals, dust and vacuum her house, deal with major house repairs and yard problems. )
This all sounds so silly and elementary, considering how bad it could actually be, and I should be thankful that she can still do major things herself (bathroom, dressing, eating).
Bit it's almost like mental torture, having to repeat myself hundreds of times a day. I'm so selfish, I know. But please don't be too hard on me (some of you will be) it's a good thing to share fears etc. to avoid a major problem down the line, right? Is this an example of the sadness of caring for an elderly parent - they will never learn from your guidance and direction,unlike raising a child who eventually will benefit?

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Eyerishlass Aug 2015
I don't really have an answer for you regarding what to do about answering the same questions over and over again but I don't think this sounds like a silly problem at all. I agree that it sounds like mental torture and I don't think you're being selfish even one little bit.

Hopefully someone who's been in this situation will chime in but in the meantime don't be so hard on yourself. If an elderly parent were asking me the same question over and over it'd drive me crazy.
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dmanbro Aug 2015
Just yesterday I was joking around with the PT people and the aide about just recording Mom's various complaints so she could save her voice, as they're always exactly the same. I don't know how many times I've explained to her that the green button turns the TV on and off and the blue buttons with the arrows are for changing the channel but it never registers.
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OzarkOlly Aug 2015
I got so tired of answering the day/date questions a million times a day that I bought a small dry erase board & pen & hung it in direct view of her living room chair. Each day I write the day of the week, the date & the next major holiday or life event on it. For instance, today I wrote "Today is Saturday, August 1st, 2015. Your wedding anniversary is August 25th." You can customize your board to whatever questions seem to be an issue at any one time. Granted, a dry erase or chalkboard doesn't exactly fit in with the rest of my decor and it doesn't completely curb the repetitive questions but lessening it by even one time is a godsend!
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ladee1 Aug 2015
You are absolutely NOT selfish and nothing silly about your question... this is one of the things that drive most of us nuts, the repeated questions.......I usually work with Alz clients, but am now working with a Stroke patient... she does the same thing..... short term memory loss..... and yes, it drives me nuts sometimes.... I just take a deep breath and answer again.... I have often thought of recording answers and just hit 'play', ya, the things that go thru our mind when we are in that situation...... but do not ever think anything that is bothering you or has you upset or worried is silly..... it is hard to do this day in ad day out.... not one thing selfish about that..... don't think there is a magic answer, as they are all different, and something you try to use to redirect them may work for awhile and then we have to come up with something else.... but know you can even come here and ask us the same question over and over , (LOL) and we will support , love and give you hugs...... only other caregivers understand... sending you lots of hugs for looking for help.....
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JB0928 Aug 2015
Mom does this often and I try to joke sometimes about it. She'll ask a question, I answer, she'll ask again and I'll kind of sing and joke and she says oh I just asked you that, I need a repeat button so you won't have to and we both had a really good laugh. It's not the say that's always the case, but if I start to sing the answer back she almost knows immediately oops I must have just asked that question, so now sometimes she writes it down and can remember to look at sometimes. It's hard to keep the levity going but it takes the sting and irritation away from both of us. I try to keep the answers rather short (not short with her but concise in my answer) also and that helps me stay calmer. Sometimes I blow it and I'm like Macauley Caulkin screaming to myself in the Home Alone movies, but since the singing answer seems to work after I've initially answered, then I try to do that first and then I can more easily redirect her and we move on from it.

One time we had just gotten off the phone and she called right back and I spewed out my answer before she could really talk and she said I know that we just talked, this time I'm calling to ask about this which was something different. She said I'm not completely bonkers yet then she laughed and I did too though I felt like a heel.
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blannie Aug 2015
Irish my mom has some level of dementia - basically no short-term memory. But she doesn't have Alzheimers. She never knows what day it is, so I got her a digital clock through Amazon that has the time, day of the week, date and temperature. I put it right next to her chair where she can always see it easily. I frequently asked her what day it was when I first got it for her, to make her look over and reference it. She's told me many times how it's helped her know what day it is. It took her probably three weeks to get used to it and remember to look at it.

Now it's handy because my mom can't remember to turn on her AC when it's hot, so when I call, I ask what the temperature is. If it's in the 80s, I tell her to get up and shut her windows and turn on the AC. Before we had that clock, I couldn't do that. I also made a big sign and pinned it to her couch (right next to her chair) that tells her she's 95. That was another question I'd get 5X a day. Sometimes she remembers that's there, sometimes not.

If your mom has Alzheimers, these kinds of things would only work for so long, but if you get a few months of relief, it would be worth it!
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Otresl Jan 3, 2018
I bought my dad a Google home. It is voice activated so all he has to do is say, "Okay Google- what is today's date? It works great for weather and any other logistical info as well. He loves Google music stations. He has severe macular degeneration, So written info is almost impossible.
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Dorianne Jan 6, 2018
@Riley - you CAN'T tell someone with dementia to stop, that's the point. It's not a question of "putting up with it." It just IS, and there's nothing you can do about it. You can't reason with someone with dementia. You can't make demands of them or have expectations. You can't just tell them to do or not do something and think that will work. They CAN'T remember. They're brains are broken. They're not children who can learn things, or be put in a time out. You're going to frighten and agitate the person, and just make everything worse, especially if you blow your top. If you just can't deal, and your loved one gets dementia, then I'm afraid you're going to have to put them in a home.

@Sue - I remember seeing "itching powder" for sale in the backs of old comic books, YEARS ago, alongside the "x-ray specs" and "joy buzzers." It was meant for use as a prank. There was also a chewing gum that did something awful to people (was it a terrible taste? I don't recall), and another "chewing gum" pack that was actually like a mousetrap that snapped shut on your friend's finger when they tried to take a stick!  Your ma must have very itchy skin; my mom does too. 

I like the dry erase board idea OzarkOlly suggested when this was originally posted. I might try it. I've been using recipe cards above the clocks, with the day of the week printed on them in Sharpie - I change them over at midnight. But sometimes mom can't read words, or read the clocks (I have one digital and one analog, side-by-side), or even comprehend whether it's day or night, even with the curtains wide open.
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jacobsonbob Jan 2017
I'm thankful I found this string. My mother, who has always been somewhat of an "interrogator" who would ask about a lot of unnecessary details, has continued this into her old age (almost 92), but now with her being very hard-of-hearing and having short-term memory loss I find it very difficult to avoid becoming frustrated and impatient. She is in a nursing home, but two hours spent with her is sometimes far more stressful than a full day of work was before I retired. She had developed the memory loss before I retired, and it had one positive effect: because much of my work entailed providing technical support to customers (mostly medical professionals), the latter was "child's play" compared to talking with my mother, and both coworkers and customers were impressed with my patience. I've provided FAQ sheets for her which have helped. However, I've noticed that when the NH staff members change her routine, this leads to a bunch of questions, so I've asked them to keep her routine the same as what it was before.
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BeJoyful Feb 5, 2018
We must always be kind to one another and be compassionate with our thoughts. Try walking a day in the other person's shoes.

I appreciate my wife's kindness - about so so much. We've had a whole lot more good days than bad, through our 41 years of marriage, two sons, daughters-in-law and seven adorable grandchildren. Since my retirement as a senior project manager in 2008, we have been actively involved in a non-profit I founded (dedicated to community building through intergenerational engagements).

I have noticed, for quite a while (maybe 20 years ago) that my short term memory was fading. The medical test then did not reveal anything. When I had to do extensive documentation of meetings, later in my career, I noticed that I had to consistently ask that sentences be repeated (since by the end of the sentence, I would forget its beginning).

Fast forward. Now that we are together full time, she becomes increasingly impatient at my repeating questions (which she may have just answered, but I forgot). Sometimes, she makes a specific, detailed request - 10 seconds later I have no clue about the details she provided. She refuses to answer the next go round. Sometimes, the answer does come to me, but not always. And not wanting to agitate her, I avoid asking for clarification and do my very best to carry out her request, only to learn it was CLEARLY not what was requested. Ordinarily, I believe in always seeking clarification before acting,

It may be that I would be impatient if I were in her shoes. I do not deliberately forget. I find neither convenience nor joy in forgetting. She just shuts down if I try to explain. And, in THIS context of forgetfulness, I am afraid of the future.

Otherwise, I am very active in the community and keep fit with workouts and the gym. Every night, I look back with thanks for the day, and look forward to celebrating new tomorrows.

I submit this post with the hope that it offers caregivers (who are so very appreciated) a short walk in the shoes of those for whom you care.

Let's be kind to one another, and, may our thoughts always be filled with compassion.
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