For those living with MCI, it’s a common issue to repeat questions or stories due to your short term memory problem. At times you may be aware that you are repeating yourself, but since you can’t recall the answer, you ask the question again. Other times you may not be aware that you’ve asked the question before, but you sense the frustration in your loved one based on his/her response: “I already told you that!”
Your loved one may not always understand MCI, or may lack patience with your memory loss. Some people get frustrated when they are asked the same question again because they may assume that the person they responded to was not listening or paying attention to their response. This is not the necessarily the case with MCI.
Since memory problems are mild in MCI, and you may still be very independent, your partner may on occasion forget that you have a short term memory problem. However, it’s not a “selective hearing” problem, or you’re “trying to be difficult” problem, it’s a memory problem. If you believe they get frustrated or angry with you when they remind you that you’ve already asked the question, you may have hurt feelings. Or, you may feel embarrassed, sad, frustrated, anxious, depressed, etc. Your memory may be impaired, but your feelings and emotions are not.
Care partners may need some guidance in adjusting their communication with you. Some care partners may suggest you “try harder” to remember, or will quiz you, or give you vague hints in hopes that you’ll remember. Be patient with them because these old techniques of exercising your memory may have worked in the past, but they no longer do. Talk to your partner about your needs and what they can specifically do to better communicate with you. We offer these tips:
Learning new behaviors can take time to master. So if your partner messes up, please forgive them, because they too are learning. If you and your partner are struggling to communicate, you may want to consider getting help through an MCI support group or a partner support group. You can contact your local Alzheimer’s Association for MCI support 1(800)272-3900.
Send an email to invite people you know to join the Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) page.