LPT: If an elderly parent or relative is retelling the same story for the millionth time, don’t stop them. Instead, ask them questions about the event. It is likely an important event to them and asking new questions about it gives them the opportunity to revisit it in new ways.

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I do this with my dad. He’s 70 and really sharp, but he has had an interesting life, so lots of stories. Sometimes he’ll reference a story I haven’t heard him tell in years and I’ll feign ignorance. He’ll go “I haven’t told you that one?! Well when Ed, Bill and I went to see Evil Knevil……” and he tells the whole thing. I think sometimes he knows I do that but neither of us care


“Im tired of digging holes granpa” “WELL THATS TOO DAMN BAD”


Use caution here. My elderly mother likes to talk about how bad her childhood was and how she was cheated out of her inheritance. I’ve heard the stories a million times and they are almost identical word-for-word retellings each time. I even know the “tripwires” that cause her to launch into the stories. I’ve learned to avoid certain topics of conversation and even particular words and phrases, because those are tripwires. At this point in Mom’s life (she’s 80), there’s no good reason to indulge her in the pity party. Sometimes I even cut her off and say, “Mom, I know you had a bad childhood and got a raw deal on the inheritance, but that was better than 60 years ago. There’s nothing to be done about any of that, so just accept that it happened and move on.” Then I talk about the weather or something unrelated like that.


Usually good advice but in healthcare, often it helps to be reminded to stay on topic and stop repeating stories. Especially in my practice setting where we start seeing vascular dementia form after a stroke.