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Repetitive Behaviors in People With Alzheimer’s

Repetitive behaviors (e.g., doing or saying the same thing over and over) are common in people who have Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia. Some repetition can be attributed to short-term memory loss (i.e., the person simply can’t remember what he or she just did or said). Other causes may include anxiety, frustration, insecurity, or an attempt to communicate a specific need or thought.

Whatever the cause, repetition can be annoying and/or frustrating for Kansas City Alzheimer’s caregivers. Here are some things you can do that may stop repetitive behaviors:

  • Look for a cause. Is there a specific need that isn’t being met? Does the person with Alzheimer’s need to go to the bathroom? Is he or she in pain? Is there too much noise? Is the person trying to tell you something?
  • Stay calm. If you’re caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, you need to be a good listener. And it requires patience. Getting upset about repetitive behaviors is only going to aggravate the person more, which could exacerbate the repetitive behavior.
  • Be creative. One evening, my mom kept asking for my dad, who was in the room with her in their Kansas City home. She thought my dad was another guy she’d dated in college, and we didn’t know how to convince her otherwise. So he walked around the block. As he was coming back down the street, my brother-in-law looked out the window and said, “Here he comes now.” When my dad walked in the door, my mom scolded him for not telling her where he was going. He apologized, and that was that.
  • Use reminders. If the person who has Alzheimer’s repeatedly asks the same questions, write down the answers and put them where they can be easily seen.
  • Try distraction. If you can’t find the cause of the person’s repetitive behavior, try engaging him or her in another activity.
  • Answer questions. If the person who has dementia is repeatedly asking the same question, keep answering. But be mindful of the things you shouldn’t say to someone with Alzheimer’s.
  • Get help. If you need help with Alzheimer’s home care, or just need some temporary respite, you may want to enlist the help of a Kansas City home care agency that specializes in Alzheimer’s and dementia care.

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