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Coping With Dementia-Related Repetitive Actions

How to handle speech and activity fixations when they occur in patients

Family Caregiver Alliance

A person with dementia may fixate on a word, question, statement or activity and repeat it over and over. Sometimes the behavior is triggered by anxiety, boredom, fear or environmental factors.

While harmless for the person repeating the word or action, this behavior can be troublesome or stressful for those caring for the person with dementia. Fortunately, there are some ways to distract the person and break the repetitive action.

  •     Provide plenty of reassurance and comfort, both in words and in touch.‬
  •     Try distracting the person with a snack or activity.‬
  •     Avoid reminding them that they just asked the same question.
  •     Try ignoring the behavior or question and distract the person into an activity.‬
  •     Don’t discuss plans with a confused person until immediately prior to an event.‬
  •     Place a sign on the kitchen table, such as, “Dinner is at 6:30” or “Lois comes home at 5:00” to remove anxiety and uncertainty about anticipated events.‬
  •     Learn to recognize certain behaviors. An agitated state or pulling at clothing, for example, could indicate a need to use the bathroom.‬

Handle dementia-related behaviors with compassion

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