Different symptoms

Sheila M

Registered User
Jul 23, 2006
South East England
What I find really strange is the discrepancies in my mothers symptoms.
Last year she scored 3 on the MMSE. She rarely remembers my name or, more recently, that I am her daughter. When she realises I'm there to visit her she introduces me as 'her family'.
She is in a residential home and needs help with dressing, washing and toileting. I have noticed that she now waits for cues before eating or drinking - if I pick up cutlery then so will she etc. Her conversation skills are rapidly deteriorating and she tends to respond very simply (but usually appropriately) and is pretty much unable to start a conversation.
What I find really strange is that she is still able to remember and use her schoolgirl French! She can still read, though I'm not sure she always understands what she is reading and she can still spell (even difficult words such as antirrhinum) Hope I've spelt it right!!
Over the last month the home have noticed that where she used to eat at about the same speed as the other residents, she now is only just finishing her starter when everyone else has finished the whole meal. Is this a first sign of losing her ability to chew???:confused:


Registered User
May 14, 2006
I think that people with dementia tend to lose their short term memory first and forget recent events. They remember things in the past for a long time. My Mum never knows what she had for lunch, or even whether she had a cup of tea half an hour ago. She can remember what happened in the War, or what she did as a girl vividly, as if it were yesterday.
School girl French would be from your mother's past, and so she would remember that better than a recent memory. Sometimes it seems as though my Mum can remember something, but is lost for the correct words to use and she forgets the names of family members.
My Mum has vascular dementia and many things seem quite normal and then she'll say or do something strange or contradictory. She also has a lot of ups and downs, but mainly she is going downwards with little glimmers of hope here and there. I have to keep telling her where she is, but she does recognise and respond to members of staff, which is promising.
I'm afraid dementia is a very unpredictable disease and seems to vary from person to person.


Registered User
May 20, 2006
North East
Mum seems to have no short term memory now - I went in to see her the other day and the carers said she was having a bath. So I just waited in her room and when she came out brushed her hair. I said that she must feel really refreshed after her bath (It was a really hot day). She said she hadn't had a bath - then she lifted her skirt up, felt her leg and confirmed that -no- she hadn't had a bath :confused:

My brother goes in to see her 3 times a week, yet she's always saying that she's never seen him

She doesn't really talk about any long term memories either - she sometimes remembers that I'm married and she sometimes recalls that I have children, but then sometimes she thinks I'm her sister

Usually the conversation just goes round and round and round and round



Registered User
Jul 30, 2006
From reading the posts its really different for different people, but there do seem to be some similarities.

I heard that things that are directly learned (like school French, reading etc) are retained longest, but things that are learned incidentally (that your daughter is your daughter, you had a cup of tea half an hour ago, etc) go first. My mum seems to have followed this pattern.

When I look back I spent alot of my time worrying about what was to come next, and I still do, but I know it'd be better to celebrate the things she can still do. Live for today - but thats hard when today is tough and so was yesterday and so will tomorrow be.

I watch women about my age (40s) shopping with their mums and I feel really jealous, cheated when I hear them chatting to each other because my mum can't chat anymore. I feel guilty for wishing this was all over, I just cant bear to watch any more. I'm just horrified - because its happened to my mum and i never expected or prepared for this. I don't have the inner resources to face up to this really, I have to steel myself to visit and limit the length of visits because I just can't take anymore.

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
Have other TP members noticed the increase in Nostalgia and Reminiscence in AD sufferers? Because their short term memory is so poor, their only talking points are about the past.

It`s really sad, because my husband tests his memory by reminding me of events and people from long ago. Then he feels happier that his memory isn`t as bad as he feared, or worse still, that it`s getting better

Grannie G


Registered User
Jan 29, 2008
Ashford, Kent
I know this is a really old thread, but read some of the comments on here with interest.

My Dad is Polish, and someone said to me the other day, that there is a chance that he will revert to only speaking Polish in the later stages of dementia.

He is 82, and has lived in England since his earlyish 20's. Prior to that he was in Italy for a few years (he speaks fluent Italian) and prior to that, in a labour camp in Germany (he speaks German too). He has not lived properly in Poland from the age of somewhere between 14-16ish.

Is this something that anyone has come across? He never ever speaks Polish at home (Mum was English) but he did speak to his brother 2 weeks ago on the phone for the first time in 8 years and they obviously had the whole conversation in Polish.

I have noticed in the odd confused moment, he has referred to Poland more frequently, and am now beginning to worry that he may well revert to his mother tongue.

Is that something that anyone else has had any experience of?



Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
My FIL who strictly speaking did not have dementia (he died of liver failure) spent the last 2 weeks of his life speaking only italian. He emigrated to the USA when he was 14. I don't know if it means anything.

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
Hello Beverley

My husband is Indian and his first languages are Hindi and Bengali. He has lived in this country since 1955, had a few Indian friends to speak to throughout his life, but has lived his life here speaking English.

We went to India 3 years ago and he was still fluent. The tour guide said he spoke perfect Hindi. He still reads it but has forgotten how to write it.

I have been told the same as you, that he will eventually revert back to his first language. I dread it.

My husband is confusing India with Manchester, where we lived for 50 years. By `going home` to Manchester, he thinks he will see his Indian family.