My husband's mom lives with us and she repeats the same stories very often. She she reads, attends bible study class, goes to lunch with friends once in a while. She is 83 now. She has been repeating her stories now for about 7 years. I guess it started in ernest after her husband died.
We wouldn't dare say anything to hurt her. We just listen and ask questions (for details) and smile. Yes, I know it can get really old - and I will admit that some days it's easier to listen than others. But, we figure it will be our turn soon enough and we hope whichever one of our kids is kind enough to look after us will let us ramble about our past, too.
After all, their past is a lot more interesting to them than their present. Especially, if they don't get out much or don't have many visitors and all they have is TV. Look what old age takes away from them - their vigor, looks, health, mates, friends and sometimes even children. But, in memory, everything and everyone is intact. They are young, strong, handsome or beautiful. The past is the 'happy place'. And, I agree with another poster who said it is a need to tell their history - to be remembered. In a way, it's immortality. We all want to be remembered.
I am so glad I remember the stories my own father told me when I was a kid. Many times I will tell my younger sister something that dad said and she will say "I didn't know that!" So, pay attention. These family stories may come in handy some day.
And, yes, it can be frustrating for everything to be focused on them. But, I do believe this happens a lot because all older ones think about are their own aches and pains - unless we help them be more active and give them things to look forward to and give them fuel for new, CURRENT stories.
We all need to lighten up - these folks are our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. They deserve our love and care and respect.
Some day we will be telling their stories to our great-grandkids. :0)