My 92-year-old mother is in late-stage Alzheimer's. She is on anxiety medication. I am the sole caretaker.

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In your shoes I would find a simple answer to mom's question and then put on repeat. Meaning that every time she asks, you repeat verbatim the answer. My mom asks incessantly where's my cats I haven't seen them for days. I answer that all your cats are in the house safe and sound. Over and over. It takes no thought, no stress, no crazy! Eventually the questions lull, and when they start back I just go on auto repeat again. Maybe say something simple such as you're here at my house for a while until you feel better.

I feel for you! It can be exasperating. But since your mother is not going to stop asking one option is for you to just change the way you respond. I hope it helps.
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to Natasana

She is doing this because she is scared snd everything seems unfamiliar and confusing. Put in some of her favorite music from long ago, spray her favorite scents, etc. to give her an emotional “handrail” to feel safe.

I would bring up Lawrence Welk on YouTube yo south my parents because they used to love that show.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to ACaringDaughter

When my husband was dying, in the final stages of brain cancer, he would ask me that over and over even thought he was in his own bedroom. He’d ask “when can I go home?” I kept trying to explain that he was home but I finally gave up and just started to tell him he could go home as soon as he was better but I’d stay with him until then. I began to realize how terrifying that must be to not know where you were. Your brain is like any other part of your body, when it’s not functioning you can’t do what you used to. Your mom has no idea that she’s asked you that question just a moment ago and she may feel real anxiety about where she is. As a caregiver it’s just something you have to cope with and not let it bother you. I know it can be very trying, but if she is in the late stages you won’t have to deal with it that much longer.
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Reply to Dizzerth

Teepa Snow videos on YT will help you understand and give you some methods of dealing with things. Her older videos are more informative.
I play a game with the repeat questions. My Mom has gotten to recognize the cadence of my rapidly shot off repeat, when I make up something off the wall, she actually recognizes that it's odd. I cheap way to make her laugh
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Reply to Cashew

First of all, you really should get some professional homecare services. No one should ever be the sole caregiver to any elderly person with Alzheimer's/dementia alone with no help.
I was an in-home caregiver for almost 25 years and worked for many people in varying stages of Alzheimer's and every other kind of dementia.
When they get themselves into a dementia loop (the repeating and asking the same question over and over) the only way to break the loop is to ignore the topic.
If she is past the stage where she can be redirected, then just stop answering her. Tell her a few times where she is then no more. Eventually she will break out of the repeating loop.
I find that giving the person something colorful to play helps with agitation and repeating. I had one client who's niece was into arts and crafts. She made her this quilted cloth book. It had all kinds of colors and textures and pictures in it. The client loved it. When she'd start up with repeating and agitation, she'd get 1mg of liquid lorazepam and her quilted book and she'd be good for several hours.
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Reply to BurntCaregiver
Dianne4016 Sep 30, 2022
Unfortunately some of us are sole caregivers by default. My mother is terribly difficult to deal with. Her attitude is mean and hateful. I have only one sibling who is disabled and unable to help in any way. My mother can’t afford a part time in home caregiver to help me. So I am her caregiver by default. It’s terribly depressing dealing with her insults, name calling, derogatory remarks, etc. 😢
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Soul caretaker, and sole caretaker.
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Reply to vegaslady

IT IS THE DISEASE. I get that now from my BIL who is only 65yrs because his short term memory is gone. Just answer the questions then try to change the subject to talk about something else. This is what we have learned from my BIL and yes it works. Try to get them talking about what makes them happy. My BIL has been like this now for about 3yrs. So we have a long road ahead of us.

Prayers to you and your mom.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to Babs2013

Can she read?

Perhaps a large and pretty Home Sweet Home sign may help.
In a car, keep paper, a marker and tape and simply indicated Grocery store, or Drug Store, or Park and tape it to the dash board in front of her.

I heard of a caregiver that suspended (thumb tacked/push pinned) a huge sign (half a bed sheet) from the ceiling over the foot of a dementia suffering loved one's bed, to be seen first thing upon waking, (and not too low that it blocks her from clearly viewing the other side of the room), saying:
"You're Betty, my sweet mom.
"You are HOME". (could say; Safe at Home)
"I love you, I'm always nearby, your Janet"
Print whatever works for you and her. It could simply say - I love you mom, I'm so happy we're home.

Rather than letting her lead you, you can say you're so funny mom, we are home and then play pleasant melodies like Younger than Springtime from the movie South Pacific, or Wouldn't it be Loverly from My Fair Lady
Get the lyrics and sing along as it plays.

If you can, get her a mechanic purring stuffed animal, it may be comforting to her. Try to find an organization that will help you get one for free. Is she a veteran. Call them and every organization anyway even just to ask for advice.

I'm sorry for your heartbreak and stress.
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Reply to MicheleDL

Are you occasionally answering or complaining and then answering? While that sounds like a reasonable strategy, behavioral evidence says otherwise. Without postulating underlying issues, we know that behavior is maintained by reinforcement, and that intermittent reinforcement is more powerful than reinforcing every time the behavior occurs. This means that by occasionally answering the questions, you are strengthening her behavior of question-asking much more than if you were answering every time, Also, negative attention can sometimes reinforce behaviors in individuals who overall are not receiving adequate attention (this may or may not be occurring with your mother). Thus telling your mother to stop repeating the same question, if you are doing so, may actually work to increase her repeating the question.

The solution is 3-fold: 1)Tell her once that you will not be answering this question anymore. (This will probably have no effect on her, but you'll feel better that you've warned her!) 2) Then do what you've said: completely stop paying attention when she asks the question; say/do nothing.. No exceptions! It may take many repetitions of her asking the question and your not responding AT ALL. Again, for this strategy to be effective does not require her to understand what you're doing, either.

3) In addition, against the possibility that just getting attention from you of any sort when she repeats the question is helping to maintain her repetition, try to jump in and tell her positive things about not questioning you repeatedly when she is doing things other than asking the question, especially when she has not asked the question for a decent amount of time. In the beginning, wait a little longer than the usual inter-question interval; as the question-asking frequency decreases, you can increase the inter-reinforcement interval.

If this sounds too theoretical or esoteric, please know that many of us have utilized these strategies with (usually) developmentally disabled) individuals in institutions, generally with good success. There is also published literature about doing this, not necessarily with this particular behavior. You're fortunate in this regard that you are her only caregiver, so you don't have to be concerned about whether she's driving others crazy.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to caroli1

Try ‘you’re safe and you’re with me’. He doesn’t need to recognise the room, this might be enough to help.
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Reply to MargaretMcKen

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