Apr 12, 2017

How to Deal with Constant Questioning from a Person Living with Dementia

My mom who is 80 has Alzheimer's. She has been living with me for over a year. I have an issue I could use some help with.

Our reader KathyD asked the following question in the comments section under the article - About Alzheimer's Reading Room
My mom who is 80 has Alzheimer's. She has been living with me for over a year. I have an issue I could use some help with. 
I have 7 brothers and sisters, we all live close by. I am her primary caregiver; all day, every day she relentlessly wants to call/visit 'the rest of her kids'. She does not recall that she saw them the day before, or even hours before.

I tell her they are working and cannot take calls at work, which is the truth - but the questioning continues all day for 13 hours! Does anyone have any strategies on how to deal with this problem.

Rachael Wonderlin offers 4 suggestions on how to deal with this problem.

By Rachael Wonderlin
Alzheimer's Reading Room

KathyD, I have a few ideas and also a couple questions.

What do you tell her when she asks about this?

Do you say, "You just saw them"? I'm asking because that could potentially make it worse. In cases like this I'll usually say something like, "They will be here tomorrow to visit." I can definitely understand how frustrating it must be to say that over and over, though.

Some ideas:

1. Could you get kind of high-tech with it? 

Get one of those audio picture frames where you can record a message on the frame itself. Buy 7 of them and put a photo of each sibling in each one. Have your siblings record a special message for your mom. They could each say something like, "Mom, I love when you cook for us! I will be over soon to come eat dinner with you." She can play these messages and see the pictures as often as she likes.

2. I'm thinking that she feels as though she's "missing out" on something with all the kids. 

She's probably remembering happy times during the holidays when you were all together. Can you put a photo album together for her? Maybe if she's looking through photos and enjoying them she will ask about the family less.

3. What is she involved in during the day? 

Does she help you clean the house, prepare meals, sew, watch TV, etc? I find that when my residents are engaged and involved they ask fewer questions and are significantly less agitated. I have a great list of crafts and activities on my Pinterest page: www.pinterest.com/rwonderlin11

4. Is she able to read still? 

Have your siblings write notes for her. Post the notes where she sits so that she can read them when she chooses. Have the notes say things like "I will see you tomorrow."

Thank you for writing in.

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Rachael Wonderlin is a Memory Care Program Coordinator and writes on her own blog at Dementia By Day.

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