People living with Alzheimer’s may repeat things a great deal of times but they are not doing it on purpose to annoy you – they truly have no memory of asking the first or nineteenth time.

Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias cause problems with short-term memory. This can lead to repetitive behaviours, like asking the same question over and over again. Don’t worry, hearing the same thing a dozen times can begin to irritate you – you’re only human.

We have gathered four great tips to help you keep your cool and manage the situation respectfully:

1. Respond to the emotions, not the words

When your older friend or relative starts to repeat a question over and over, try to guess what feelings might be causing the behaviour. If they might be feeling anxious, giving a brief hug or hand squeeze while calmly answering the question may soothe them enough to stop their need to keep asking.

2. Keep your answers brief

It’s tempting to answer a question from a person with Alzheimer’s the same way you’d answer anybody else. But the shorter and simpler your answer, the better. It saves you time and energy and reduces your exasperation when you have to repeat it five more times.

3. Distract with an activity

Sometimes the only way to get your loved one with dementia to stop repeating a question is to distract them with something they enjoy. Maybe that means offering them a snack or their favourite beverage. Or, you could ask them a simple question to get them thinking about something else, like “It’s sunny today, I wonder if the parks are busy?” Another idea is to ask them to help you with a simple chore they’re still able to do, like emptying the dishwasher.

4. Escape for a few minutes

It’s tough to keep your cool and not snap at someone when you’ve been asked the same question for the nineteenth time. Everyone’s patience runs out at some point, especially if this isn’t the first time it’s happened today.

Sometimes you just need to leave the room for a few minutes. Go to the bathroom, get a quick breath of fresh air, or check your Facebook feed. By the time you come back, you’ll have had some time to cool off and will be better able to handle your older adult’s behaviour with kindness.