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Learning to Deal with a Person Suffering from Alzheimer’s – Repetitive Questions

Posted Jul 10 2010 10:17am
By Karen Matthews
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Most of the caregiver “solutions” that I have found in the Alzheimer’s world are temporary if they aren’t easily adaptable. My mother’s rapid decline has me on my toes trying to be creative enough to come up with new solutions on what seems like a weekly basis now. Repetitive questions about the day of the week, time of day and meals were constant throughout the day.

A large wall calendar worked for a while. I crossed off the days as they passed and moved a sticky note with “Today” written on it to the current day. In time, neither the calendar in general nor the note “Today” made sense to mom. She only cares to know the day of the week now.

The large faced digital clock with AM/PM helped for a while but it eventually stopped making sense, too. In addition, Daylight Savings has wreaked havoc on the household since it’s light both early and late in the day; consequently, the repeated questions about whether it’s time for breakfast or dinner began.

Even though mom had dinner at 5PM she began asking for breakfast at 7PM thinking it was morning. I hung a large wall clock in a convenient location and she could read it but couldn’t distinguish between day and night. A hook on the wall under the clock now holds computer generated signs that I alternate -- one each for Day and Night. At the moment they are helping.

By far, the most helpful solution I have found is the white board I also hung on the wall. I can change it daily and it holds the answers to any of the questions I am asked repeatedly.

”What day is it?” and “When is the next meal served?”.

I don’t really expect to stick to the schedule but I have included the typical times that meals are “served” in an effort to tie the clock and the schedule together. Mom helps me put a large checkmark next to each meal after she eats but there are still times she will question it and try to convince me that she was skipped over at mealtime.

The good news is that mom doesn’t ask these questions as often and now points to the white board on occasion and explains its significance to me.
”They serve dinner at 5:00 here.” or “Can you believe it’s already Friday?”.

She makes these statements with a sense of pride or what I interpret as more self confidence or satisfaction. Whatever it is, it is positive and that’s my goal. It might not work next week but I’ll worry about that when the time comes.

Karen Matthews and her husband, Randy, live in Leawood, Kansas and are full time caregivers for Karen’s 89 year old mother, Louise. Karen is a residential real estate agent with Reece & Nichols in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Karen has an MBA. You can visit Karen on her Facebook page.

More About the Alzheimer's Reading Room

The Alzheimer's Action Plan
300 Tips for Making Life Easier

Original content Karen Matthews, the Alzheimer's Reading Room

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