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My spouse is & was always a natural "question box," which, though mostly helpful in the long run, has grated even more on my nerves since our retirements.


He has most functioning mental capacities, but has some hearing loss & I've noted a short-term memory deficit over the last few years. I admit it is frightening for me to see him w/ the memory deficit.


Today, he asked me a question for the 4th time (had asked same question x 3 over the past several days). I told him we had decided our answer to this same question yesterday.


He got defensive & said I repeat things sometimes & said that at least he is nice enough not to remind me that I repeated something.


That comment stung. Am I wrong or "not being nice" in mentioning to him that he has asked me the same question before (every time he forgets he’s asked me a question)?


Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

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I got some sage advice from my local Alzheimer’s Association: For you, it is the 50th time he asked the question. For him, it is the first time he asked the question. I have lived by that mantra and it has helped me tremendously with my patience. People, especially with memory loss, often don’t remember the words, but they remember the emotions they felt.
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KKTheBean May 15, 2021
MaddieMae, your reply was so good! I needed to hear that right now. Thank you for replying to this other lady with grace and kindness... the world needs these traits... right now, more than ever. :0)
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Nobody likes being reminded that their short term memory is faltering. It's a scary thing to face, right? Every time I forget something, I feel a bit panicky....like omg, am I going down the dementia highway now?

Your husband's not-so-nice comment stung you, and your not-so-nice comment stung him. Compassion is best when dealing with one another's shortcomings.

My advice is to have him make an appointment with his PCP for a full medical workup including a cognitive evaluation. Then you'll both know what's going on and if any cognitive impairment is involved.

Good luck
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Reply to lealonnie1
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I can have the same problem with my 97-year-old MIL. What I do quite often is write her notes, so she can refresh her memory by reading them. And I don’t get exasperated. (Also, I don’t have to raise my voice because she can’t hear/understand well.). And yes, it’s ok to feel hurt.
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It is unclear whether he has been tested by a neurologist yet. An ENT can also test his hearing. When my husband asked “What’s in that box 4x in 15 minutes, I knew it was more than hearing loss. It can get on one’s nerves and the idea of writing down the answers to frequent questions is a good one but make sure he doesn’t lose the book where the questions have been written. Also questions like “Where are we going today?” will have different answers and you can fill up a book or page. I have found Amazon echo very helpful in ”What day is it, What date is it, What time is it.”
”What is the weather like? “Alexa never tires or loses her temper.😀
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Reply to KathleenQ
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As a pretty deaf woman, married to a newly pretty deaf husband, this is a problem compounded by short-term memory problems. We often find ourselves not hearing an answer and then yelling "Why are you yelling at me?" Think of yourself as living in a sitcom. It is irritating, and you will get angry, but last time I checked we are all human. Try and laugh at times. Also, with my deafness, I found myself not asking people to repeat. It is embarrassing, but not having the information is also a problem. You may have noticed life can be complicated, try and chill some of the time.
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RedVanAnnie May 15, 2021
I love your attitude of laughing at yourself when you can!

We are kind of a sitcom with all our declining capabilities.
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We’re not near retirement time but certainly both notice we repeat and forget more. Hopefully we’re kind and compassionate enough not to point it out. I hope you’ll both cut each other some slack and seek medical advice when it’s appropriate
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Reply to Daughterof1930
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My hubby with dementia has substantial hearing loss. I've found by touching his arm, having him look at me and standing close to his good ear (the one that has 40% hearing) and answering his questions, speaking slowly, cuts down on the frequent questions. His brain is broken and he doesn't process speech as fast as he used to.
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I was in a grocery store about 20 yrs. ago, and a woman whom I judged to be in her 40's, was with her mom, whom I judged to be in her 70's. The older woman asked if they were going to get eggs, and the daughter said, in an exasperated tone, "Mom, we just bought eggs; now we're buying milk." I could see the discomfort on the mom's face. I thought if my mom was ever in that boat, I wouldn't be so annoyed with her. Well, fast forward about 10 yrs, and my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. We were in a store, and when we walked down the aisle where tuna was sold, she asked me if we needed any. I said we did, but they were out of my brand, so I'd wait until they got it. She understood. We went to the next aisle, and then I realized that we needed something back in the tuna aisle, and she said, "Do we need tuna?" And I heard an all too-familiar annoyed response coming out of my mouth: "Didn't we just have this discussion, that they didn't have the brand that I like." "Let she who is without sin cast the first tuna," into the sea. Just do the best you can. I even wrote a book about Hubby and I taking are of my mom during this time called, "My Mother Has Alzheimer's and My Dog Has Tapeworms: A Caregiver's Tale." Just do the best you can. Like others have said, humor can go a long way.
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BurntCaregiver May 17, 2021
rlynn123,

You get it. None of us are perfect. People looking in on a caregiving situation see something very different than what it actually is.
Like I told MakingItWork99 in the comments. There isn't a caregiver on earth who can honestly say they've never lost a moment of patience being in the dementia repeating loop.
I've been in elder homecare near 25 years and I've been there myself. I find the only way to maintain patience and not lose your cool is to ignore with kindness. This can mean trying to deflect their attention onto something else. It can also mean plainly saying, "Stop asking me that. I've already answered you many times. I'm not answering it again" when it's being asked. I've found this response to be effective in breaking certain repeating loops.
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If the questions are regarding when or where something is happening, i.e. a doctor's appointment or family gathering, perhaps it would help to write it on a calendar and tell him and show him it is on the calendar and he will go there to look for the reminder. Or when you tell him something, make sure he is really paying attention to you and have him write it down if necessary. Sometimes my husband and I, who are together all day long, don't listen well to what seem to be offhand remarks, when they are really something that needs remembered. Or we are concentrating on something else, like reading or a TV show, and let things go in one ear and out the other. Not to be argumentative, but people on here sometimes jump right onto the "dementia" train.
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Reply to OldAlto
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Whether this is memory deficits or not aside, it's just as easy to provide simple answers to the questions. There is a good chance that he might be in the very early stages of memory loss, especially if he has hearing loss (studies indicate that hearing loss can contribute, but there are plenty of people with good hearing that develop cognitive issues too!)

The repetition of statements and questions are what clued me in to my mother's dementia. In hindsight, there were a few instances that should have raised a flag, but I knew nothing about dementia at that time. She lived alone, so those instances were rare only because we didn't see each other all the time and the thought would have to pop into her head when I was there or if I called. Those were basically accusations about someone taking something. One was a person painting the room for her and she insisted he must have taken some broken jewelry she set aside to cash in. More than likely she either misplaced or tossed them, or had already cashed them in and forgot. The second time was accusing my OB of taking her tweezers! I just said why would he do that? They are inexpensive and available everywhere! I bought another for her. Later when cleaning out her condo, I found THREE in the bathroom drawer and maybe 5-6 in a plastic container in the dresser drawer!

But, it wasn't until the repetition, multiple times during a chat either in person or on the phone that I realized something was up. Doing some research, I realized it was early dementia. Note: she had TWO conditions that can lead to dementia. High BP (on meds for MANY years) and hearing loss (hearing aids also for many years, but by this time she only wore one.)

As annoying as it can be to have someone repeating themselves, the best method is just to answer the question. If it is early cognitive issues, then for him it's the first time, for you it could be the 100th time! Very often with some types of dementia, that short term memory loss is the first clue. They can't store the information or learn new ways to do things.

It might be a good idea to have a checkup and have the doctor do the simple test (the one most docs use is primarily for a baseline, so they can watch for changes when it's repeated later.) The first time they tried with mom, she was already living in MC for 2 years, so it was a bust. She couldn't even complete it. A month or so later, they gave the same test to me, so it is becoming more common as part of one's yearly checkup. However, these are very basic tests and often do not catch various issues. Being able to repeat words, draw a clock, etc, does not always equate to some of the early deficits, like trying to follow a recipe or manage finances (even if the recipe is one used for years or finances being easy for them before.) When we had to take mom's car away, the cooking issue became apparent, as I would need to take her shopping and could see she wasn't using items, mainly eating boxed stuff and frozen dinners. I had already taken on the finances, as she was making mistakes - not simple ones, so it was clear I needed to step in. To others she would seem fairly normal, esp for her age (over 90 at that point.) Spend enough time with her, it would be clear, but docs only see us for a few minutes, so they can miss the signs. WE have to be diligent and also report the deficits we observe.
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