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Dementia and language


Registered User
Feb 21, 2015
Apologies for posting this, I really hope this doesn't offend anyone.

I have a very dear family friend, I have called her Q (not her initial). She now resides in a care home where the standard of care is second to none.

Q has always regarded swearing, and any form of bad language as strictly unacceptable, and in all the years I have known her has *never* used anything stronger than 'blast'. Bad language just isn't her.

She is now well along the dementia path. Unfortunately the dementia has completely changed her, in particular her levels of aggression. Including becoming very verbally explicit. Especially towards anyone that suggests anything she doesn't want to do (a carer offering a cup of tea was told to .............go away). Q no longer has self awareness- she would be absolutely horrified, and indeed devastated if she could see herself as she is now.

I keep telling myself that its the dementia talking, not Q herself, and that at the end of the day its communication, pure and simple, just delivered with words that some people would find offensive.

I haven't had much experience with dementia, so is this a feature of dementia, that those people experiencing dementia become completely disinhibited?????


Registered User
Jul 29, 2013
North East
Yes, unfortunately it is. Her brain is being damaged as the disease progresses and the parts that stop her from coming out with these words is affected. It's a vile horrible disease this.


Registered User
Mar 4, 2013
Auckland...... New Zealand
My husband has aphasia due to surgery and treatment for a brain tumour 11 yrs ago.
He has problems gettng certain words out or will substitue one word for another, or occasionally if he suffers from a partial seizure he cannot speak at all for about 5-10 mns. However he never has any issues letting fly with a curse word when he wants to :rolleyes:

His tumour was in his left frontal parietal lobe.
Left frontal lobe controls, judgement, planning, reasoning, emotions and personality and helps convert thoughts into word.
Parietl lobe helps you to interpret written and spoken language, and also connecting visual and auditory signals to your memory.

They say a different part of your brain stores curse words.
Its your judgement, reasoning and moral standards that prevent you from saying them.
When your part of the brain affected impacts on speech, curse words are easier to say.

Just as someone with a stammer may sing fluently, someone with a speech issue can swear fluently.


Registered User
Aug 29, 2007
SW London
Yes, it can be a feature of dementia, but the care home staff will almost certainly be used to it and will not take offence.

Recently at my mother's CH a very new resident was telling people to eff or sod off, and saying very loudly e.g. 'What a cow!' about someone standing nearby. Her son, who was visiting her, was very embarrassed and told me she had never behaved like this before. I felt sorry for him, but was able to explain that none of the staff or regular visitors will be remotely offended. My mother has been there over 7 years now, and I have seen many such instances, inc. some very ripe language indeed. Nobody takes a blind bit of notice, or if they do it is more something to raise a giggle. All the staff ever say is something like, 'Now, then, X, that's not very nice, is it?' But it's always done with a smile.

However I agree that it is very upsetting to know how appalled the person themselves would be, if they were aware of how they are behaving now. But one could say the same about other aspects of this horrible disease, e.g. incontinence. Please try not to let it upset you.
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Ann Mac

Registered User
Oct 17, 2013
My Mil - who would rarely even use the word 'bloody' pre-dementia - now swears like the proverbial trooper on occasion. I agree that it is really hard to deal with, especially whe you know that the person themselves would be horrified if they realised :(

And yet, you know, should hubby or I slip up and use a word we shouldn't in front of her, 9 times out of 10, she will still give us such a lecture for using 'bad language' :confused:


Registered User
Apr 6, 2011
North Manchester
Teepa Snow maintains a large and informative site about dementia http://teepasnow.com/

Slide 19 from >>>THIS SLIDESHOW<<< is one of many showing how various areas of the brain are affected.

Note that 'expletives' are controlled by the blue area which is largely unaffected and can therefore dominate.

'Automatic Speech', is also in this area which explains why a person with dementia who is non verbalising will suddenly respond to 'How are you today?' with 'Very well thank you, and you?'

'Rythm - Music' is also in the blue area which explains the success of 'Singing for the brain' and similar activities.


Amber 3

Registered User
Feb 4, 2015
South Devon
My husband never used to swear pre dementia, and always hated to hear bad language, this is one of the aspects of this disease I find most upsetting especially when it's directed at me personally. I know it's the progression of the disease but that doesn't make it any easier especially because it's said with such anger and aggression. In rare moments of clarity I have mentioned to my husband what he has said, and his answer is always the same; "Don't be ridiculous, I would never speak to you like that." So at the moment there is some level of awareness...


Registered User
Feb 21, 2015
Thank you all for your comments, definitely some food for thought.
Q no longer has insight to what she is saying, which is not a bad thing at all

The staff in her home are fantastic- when she is being particulary verbally abusive towards the staff, calling them all the names under the sun, using the sort of language that would make my military husband blush, they just seem to take it.

Like one of the responders said, its just particulary hard when its directed at you, especially when she is using ^that^ word.

Thank you all so much.