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What to look for?

Repetitive Behaviour | Common Signs

  • Engages in repetitive motions like rocking or tapping fingers
  • Always checks and rechecks things (e.g. that windows are locked, the cat is in the house) hoards items like money, clothing or food
  • Insists on doing a task right away (e.g. washing dishes as they are emptied)
  • Continues at a task long after it is finished (e.g. will sweep driveway until stopped)
  • Has to do things in the same way, or in the same order every time
  • Is preoccupied with a thought or idea and cannot be distracted from it
  • Is preoccupied with news stories (e.g. wars), always watches the news
Repetitive Behaviour | General Description

Alzheimer's disease affects a person's ability to remember what has just happened and often leads to repetitive behaviour. When the person you care for continuously repeats a motion such as tapping or pacing , it may be because they are anxious, or that they are bored and require stimulation. Sometimes the person you care for may engage in a repetitive activity with a purpose such as packing and unpacking or continuously rearranging furniture. Often these repetitive behaviours are related to a former activity or occupation.

The person you care for may be disoriented or confused and they may engage in repetitive activities as a way to comfort or soothe themselves, particularly when they are agitated or distressed. For example, if they are concerned about their safety, they may be continually checking and rechecking locks and windows to reassure themselves. Alzheimer's disease can also affect a person's ability to stop a behaviour, causing them to repeat it.

Stereotyped and/or repetitive behaviours are common in Frontotemporal dementia as well. These can include re-reading the same book multiple times, hand rubbing and clapping, or humming one tune repeatedly. Again, the need of the caregiver to intervene is best in matters of person's safety.

The first step in taking a more active role in managing symptoms is understanding how a symptom is affecting everyday life; the next step is communicating this knowledge to those involved in care planning such as your doctor and other family members. SymptomGuideTM is designed with these goals in mind.

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See Also:
About Dementia > Alzheimer's Disease > Memory
Symptom Library > Personality Changes > Anxiety and Worry
Symptom Library > Behaviour > Disorientation to Time
Symptom Library > Memory & Language > Memory of Recent Events
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Last updated January 15, 2019
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