Repetitive behaviour and dementia

People with dementia often carry out the same activity, make the same gesture, say the same thing, make the same noise or ask the same question over and over.

What causes repetition in people with dementia?

Repetition may be because of memory loss. The person might not be able to remember what they’ve done or said, or the answer they received to a question. For example, they may keep checking they have their wallet or handbag with them, or keep checking their fridge to make sure they have enough food.

Often if someone is repeating the same question, they need an emotional rather than factual response. This may be because the person feels confused or anxious. They need comfort, security or to feel included or reassured rather than the repeated answer to their question. For example, if they keep asking what day it is they may need reassuring they haven’t forgotten something rather than needing to know that it’s Monday. 

See our practical tips for what to do if someone is forgetting recent conversations or events.

You may also find it helpful to read our tips for communicating with a person with dementia.

Reminder products

The Alzheimer's Society shop has various tools that act as reminders. Take a look at the full listing. 

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