My Mother says the same thing over and over again and I wonder what the compassionate response is to these repetitive phrases?

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Mom is doing pretty well. She's 89 now, still walking twice a day and living on her own. We talk every day and I take her on an outing at least once a week. Her health and her mind seem pretty good to me. However, she has a habit now that is really bothering me. A couple of years ago, she started saying thank you thank you thank you a lot. Three times in a row. And I'd say you're welcome. But over the past few months, she has increased her thank you's when I am with her. Every few minutes as a matter of fact. I've tried to explain that one thank you means a lot but several are overwhelming. And I can see that she doesn't really understand why saying so many thank yous are a bad thing. I try to divert the conversations and move away from thank you as best I can.

Writing this of course I'm feeling really stupid. What on earth could be wrong with a mom who says thank you all the time? There are so many worse problems out there. But, it makes being with her difficult. I want to be compassionate. At this point, should I just let these thank yous go? Not respond? Say you're welcome? Attempt to explain again that one good thank you means a lot, but many overwhelm me - this doesn't seem to work. How can I be compassionate to mom and still hold onto my own patience and give her the best quality interaction we can have?

Thank you for help with what seems like a silly little issue.

Beth

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I care for my BIL who tells me the same story at least 10 times a day ~ grrrr, I know what's coming so I make automatic pilot responses at appropriate points. In the meantime I think about other things, have I done x job, what do I need to get for dinner, so on so program is on at...
Tune out and try to remember that they don't know they are doing it so can't stop/change.
I've recently got my own dementia diagnosis (with Lewy Bodies) yesterday I heard myself telling someone something and had a deja vu moment. I stopped and said "have I told you this before?" "Yes 3 times" was the response :~(
Patience and tune out are my best suggestions
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Over time I suppose I've blocked the frustration button. Probably not the best Response but I'm in survival mode. I need to try to emotionally detach and just have my brain answer. I have a written list of go to things when mum gets stuck in the loop. They include her favourite TV programs if we are home. Have hours recorded. I have some dementia specific jigsaws colouring books and card games. I talk to her about her flowers etc if we are out I'll point out anything. Basic diversion. I just try to shut out the frustration. I also spend time meditating and trying to find things to be grateful for. Sometimes that can be hard if I'm in the overwhelm mode. It seems to help me keep on an even keel. I've realised I can't change what she says it's like talking to a brick wall. When I forget that and vent to my brother he says ' brick wall' and it resets my expectations.
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I learned to say "Imagine that" from a counselor. Its neutral and that you can't be right or wrong and still be engaged in the loop.
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I've tried something that helps me cope when my mother asks me the same questions several times an evening: I just pretend she's a child, a parrot or a recording instead of a functional adult. That way I can give "pat answers" without getting frustrated with her. When we have a "real" conversation (i.e., one that doesn't rely on her short-term memory), then I think of her as a functional adult again. It may sound cruel, but at least I can avoid becoming irritated at her.
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I can certainly understand how it gets frustrating hearing the same thing over and over again. Just know that at least at this point she's ichnology that things occur and being gracious about it is actually a positive thing. I would read much rather hear you saying that she saying thank you instead of swearing or mumbling. I think you should give yourself a break and no you don't always have to give a verbal response every time she says it. Maybe add knowledge with a nod or even a soft touch to her hand. You never want to become desensitized to the things that she's says. You have connections w her. I say distract yourself or keep yourself busy in the moment. You're doing a great job with being there and helping her along. There's no real perfect way to handle anybody with dementia or Alzheimer's disease each individual is different how their life has shaped them sometimes will appears as the disease advances. The saying that my grandmother constantly said to us was I love you. Somehow that saying never got old. Keep talking to us! Vent and refill your love tank. She's going to need you!
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When is the last time she had a full medical workup including some screening for dementia? She may be progressing in some disease process. She may be finding it harder to put sentences together, something which can lead to people repeating the same phrases. A simple thank you from you at the beginning is likely enough. If you can just let the other thank yous go by and not focus on them you may find that you are less anxious. Much frustration comes from unrealistic expectation. Sometimes we need to lower our expectations of people, especially those in a disease process, so that they are more realistic and we can better adjust to our new reality.
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Great responses. Patience is the first thing and sounds like you try that. I try to put something in Dad's hands that will distract this type of loop. Changing location,walking away for a few moments(whatever you can do safely) . Verbal explanations are too stressful. Maybe you can write a memo and hand it to her. Have it laminated and ready. Maybe it will say " I am thankful for you too". Have a variety of these cards. Don't hand them all….too much clutter. This disease is as unique and individual as the person. Caregivers are great. Do not forget that!
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You didn't say, does she actually have dementia/Alzheimer's or some other mental issue?

I know it feels stupid typing it out, same thing happened to me...once I had written out my "issues" I felt like I had about 1/100th of a percent of the problems of lots of other folks. :-) But, it's not stupid if it's an issue for you, and I can relate. If she doesn't understand how irritating the "thank yous" are, then getting her to stop is going to be difficult. I don't have any sage advice other than just to either ignore it or say "you're welcome" over and over. Lol. Does she notice if you don't respond? If not, maybe just ignoring it is the solution.
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Someone w/ early stage dementia can cover it fairly well on a once a week visit but things do come to light ie: the repetitive thank you. It is a sign of other issues that should be looked into. As for how to deal. Explaining to your mom that you have already heard her, one thank you is enough, etc. is probably not going to be effective because she is not able to stop the "habit" nor does she see the problem. As difficult as it is, for now trying to ignore it as best you can may be your answer until you get more professional advice. Unless she is looking for a response none is necessary. Try to put it into perspective and not let it become a struggle. Let her say her thank yous , maybe a simple uh huh from you, and let the moment pass. As hard as it may be, try and put a little levity into the situation for yourself. Most importantly she should see a neurologist and her PCP to determine what the root cause is. They may recommend a Psych Exam which may also shed some light on the situation and lead you to answers as to how to deal.
Do keep a close eye on things in her home. Are things still in their place? Is she bathing, eating and taking care of her personal belongings? Is trash out on trash day? Is mail, newspapers, etc. piling up? You get the idea. These types of things can be significant clues as to how mom is doing. Be prepard that she may need someone to come in 1-2 x's a week to "tidy up" and keep an eye out for future behaviors. Best of luck. I work w/ the elderly daily as an Activity DIrector and I know how difficult it can be to see mom starting to show signs of decline. How you handle this is key to both her and your success as this process continues - and it will. We all age differently but none of us can avoid the inevitible.
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We (women) are trained from birth to respond to whatever is directed our way. To respond, to be NICE, to be attentive, to be nurturing wonderful caretakers - smile and answer, backbone of the family, deal with anything that comes up with a cheery outlook . Blah blah. Your mother is beginning the downward spiral that will not end well, her brain is going, she is repeating things on a loop. If you understand me, she is not thanking you, she is parroting things in her brain on a tape. You can say, "you're welcome" a thousand times a day. That doesn't have anything to do with it, you might was well be talking to an actual parent. You shouldn't be concerned with 'being nice' 'being polite' engaging in this silliness as if it meant anything. Say "you are welcome" and be done with it. All you can do from then on is distract them - "oh, look, a dog outside, let's go out and see him" - or put on The Jerry Springer Show, or put on earphones on yourself - listen to music, just nod and smile now and then.....This is only the beginning. You have far worse to look forward to. A compassionate or an absolutely furious response to the tiresome repetition makes no difference, she isn't hearing YOU, she is blabbing away because, deteriorating brain. Endcap: distraction. Go outside. Look at a magazine together. Watch a tv show. Dance, sing, do anything. You can't stop it, and you can't reason with them.
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