Is it Better to Tell Someone That They Have Dementia Over and Over again, or to Just Let it Go?

Dec 19, 2022 | Caregivers

Memory loss is the most common symptom of dementia. Your loved one in the early stages of dementia may remember that they have the syndrome, but people typically forget their diagnosis as it progresses. Your loved one may repetitively ask you, “Do I have dementia?” They may also ask, “What is wrong with me?” They might also not be able to articulate what they are experiencing, and this can generate confusion, frustration, and stress.  Should you remind your loved one that they have dementia, even if you must do it repeatedly? Or should you just let it go?

Reminding Your Loved One That They Have Dementia Does Not Work

In general, avoid reminding your loved one that they have dementia. If your loved one is in the early stages of dementia and they ask, “Do I have dementia?” or, “What is wrong with me?”, and if you feel they can comprehend the condition, then be honest with them. But remember, there is no purpose in telling your loved one that they have dementia unless they ask.

If your loved one’s behavior changes after you are honest with them – if they become agitated, aggressive, or combative, then it might be time to reconsider how you answer their questions. Consider shifting the topic and making it personal, for example, “How are you feeling today?” It is crucial to acknowledge what a person is experiencing in their life. We do this by responding reassuringly and showing that we care. We observe, we listen, and we are emphatic and personal. We do not remind anyone that they have dementia.

What You Can Do or Say to Help

Repetitive questions and confusion occur due to impaired memory. Your loved one with dementia will experience difficulties with picking up on new information, retaining it, recalling it, and will struggle with differentiating between past and present experiences.

Review External Factors

If your loved one asks repetitive questions, avoid reminding them that they have already asked. Instead, ensure there are no external factors involved that could aggravate confusion:

  • Is there anything in their environment that could be triggering questions?
  • Are they feeling pain or discomfort?
  • Are they bored?
  • Has any medication changed?
  • Have any schedules or routines changed?
  • Are they experiencing anxiety, sadness, or depression?

Clear Communication and Engagement

We believe in proactive and consistent engagement and communication.

Communication opens the gates to understanding how any person with dementia feels, which allows individual care, understanding, responsiveness, and nurturing based on what someone is feeling or experiencing. This is how we build trust, and how we diminish stress and confusion. Communication with a loved one with dementia requires clear and concise explanation and instruction. It may be necessary to repeat yourself several times. It may be necessary to rephrase until your person clearly understands.

Patience is Key

Patience means you do not argue with your loved one who lives with dementia. Listen attentively, and this may mean that you move on from particularly trying subjects for the time being and approach the topic later with a different strategy designed around your loved one’s inherent wants and needs. Remember, when you patiently listen, your goal is to see your loved one’s world through their eyes.

The Small Things Matter

Dementia is a big thing in anyone’s life, but at Sundara Living, we do not let it be a boundary to nurturing what really matters. We believe caring is all about the small things – sharing life together: eating, laughing, celebrating, and connecting.

We believe in cultivating the quality of life in memory care through:

  • A place to be safe
  • A place where all needs are met
  • A beautiful place to live
  • A place to spend time with family and friends
  • A place with fun things to do
  • A place to enjoy community

We celebrate life! Are you ready to celebrate your loved one today?

If you or your parent reside in the North Austin or Round Rock area of Texas, we are here to answer your questions and we want to help you through the journey of memory care. Contact us online, schedule a tour online or call us at 512-399-5080. When you patiently listen, you try to see your loved one’s world through their eyes.