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Tips for Dealing With Repetitive Speech in Dementia


If you’ve ever played music on vinyl records, you know that the needle does not always track properly. Sometimes a tiny bit of dust or debris may cause it to get stuck or skip, leaving you hearing just a few words of the song again and again until the problem is addressed.

In Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia, memory blips can result in a similar effect described as conversation looping. Commonly occurring in mild and moderate stages of the disease, it may look like this:

  • You are having an enjoyable conversation about your favorite football team’s recent win.

  • The person with Alzheimer's suddenly switches gears and asks you if you’ve completed your homework.

  • Knowing it is important to step into an alternative reality or time frame with the individual, you respond that all of your homework is done.

  • You then return to the conversation about the amazing goal that clinched the win.

  • The other person asks again if you have finished your homework.

What’s the Most Effective Way to Handle Conversation Looping?

It is beneficial to first understand why the behavior is occurring. We all experience repetition to some extent. We may forget that we have told someone a specific memory or story and tell them again. We also may repeat a question we have in mind, unsure whether we actually asked the question or simply just thought about it. These kinds of situations occur when we aren’t completely focused or paying close enough attention to the environment around us.

In contrast, conversation loops in dementia can happen as often as every few minutes. Professor of Psychology at Western Washington University Ira E. Hyman, Jr., Ph.D., explains that with cognitive impairment, “…the work of binding the elements of an experience into a personal memory is disrupted.”

It is important to recognize that correcting someone with Alzheimer's is never an effective tactic. With that in mind, it’s best to continue to respond to the individual's repetitive story or question, keeping your answer brief. You can then try changing the topic to something you know is of specific interest to them now or was important to them in their younger years, as long-term memories remain intact a lot longer than more recent ones.

How a Specialized Dementia Caregiver Can Help

With so many challenging symptoms and behaviors to manage, taking care of someone with dementia by yourself can be daunting. Our caregivers are especially trained in effective solutions to managing the difficulties experienced in Alzheimer's. Let us work with you to ensure the highest quality care for a person you love.

Whether you’re struggling with sundowning, wandering, hallucinations, aggression, or any other complications a family member is experiencing from dementia, The Care Company is here to help. Contact us online or call us any time at (416) 422-2273 to learn more about our expert Alzheimer's care, available throughout Etobicoke, Toronto, Markham, and the nearby communities.

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