By Nancy Ludin
Fifty percent of adults over the age of 85 have some form of dementia. Chances are If you have an elderly relative, you will hear the same stories repeated. Short term memory loss can be very aggravating for the listener who may hear the same information repeated several times during a one- hour visit. Reminding yourself that the information is new to the storyteller is helpful. The relative is not trying to annoy you. In the ideal situation, it is best to listen without interrupting. Your elders are trying to converse with you and may not recall that the same conversation took place a few minutes ago.
At the Jewish Pavilion, we recommend that family members visit with loved ones often for short periods of time. It is ideal to live near ones relatives so that visiting them can be accomplished within your normal home and work routine. When your patience has worn out, it may be the ideal time to leave. Another option is to change the subject and ask your relatives about something in their past, Most older adults retain their long term memories. If you ask them specific questions about their childhood, they are likely to recall many positive and interesting memories. It is ideal to discuss topics that do not provoke anxiety like “what did your family do when the Circus came to town?” You may even hear a new story and enjoy it.