Is my behavior enabling my with with dementia to keep asking the same questions?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 01, 2016
Stumper asked...

My wife suffers from dementia. I am her sole caregiver. She has had this condition for several years but it is now getting worse.

She asks the same questions over and over. She also tells the same stories over and over. Every time she asks I stop what I am doing, listen carefully and give her the exact same answer or comment on the story. My reasoning is she needs my attention and nothing else I am doing cannot wait. If I am watching TV so what if I miss a few lines? If I am doing something else such as working on the computer it can wait.

My question: Is my behavior enabling her to keep asking the questions?


Expert Answers

Joanne Koenig Coste is a nationally recognized expert on Alzheimer's care and an outspoken advocate for patient and family care. She is the author of Learning to Speak Alzheimer's. Also, she currently is in private practice as an Alzheimer's family therapist. Ms. Koenig Coste also serves as President of Alzheimer Consulting Associates, implementing state-of-the-art Alzheimer care throughout the United States.

To strongly answer your query about whether or not your behavior is enabling your wife to keep asking questions, let me say with great certainty, NO! it is not! Her questions are repeated because of the disease and the brain's inability to store the information regarding having asked the question and therefore not being able to recall your answer. Each time she asks is the first time for her. Far from being the typical 'enabler', you sound like a loving supportive spouse who is doing all the right things. By answering her each time she repeats a question only gives her validation as a contributing partner in your relationship. You are letting her know that you are listening and are interested in having an active dialog with her. No matter how many times you have engaged in the same verbal exchange, it is all new to her. How wonderful that you not only realize how important your answer is to her, but that you also provide her with much needed recognition and attention. And you are so right about putting other things aside - nothing is more important than addressing her needs at the moment she is needy. Accolades to you!