1. Helly68

    Helly68 Registered User

    Mar 12, 2018
    371
    Recently, when I have visited my mother, in a care home in the mid to late stages of mixed dementia, I and other family members have noticed a steep decline in her language - i.e she doesn't have the words for what she wants to say. I know this is to be expected, I just wonder how others have dealt with this. Specifically

    She will ask me a question or make a comment, and I can't work out what she means. This may include nonsense words "diddle diddle" "1234" etc or some comments out of context. I am not making any judgement here about this and I know there isn't a lot that can be done.

    If I try to reply with something generic, oh, don't worry, or that was nice wasn't it? In a calming positive tone, this doesn't always work as she can see I haven't always understood. She then gets very angry and upset.

    If I say honestly that I am not sure what she means, she also gets upset.
    I try to keep up a flow of interesting conversation and observations, but this is hard, especially when she wants to contribute.

    Has anyone found any way of behaving - watching body language, using pictures or signs, hand gestures to help with this?
    Some days are better than others and I do reassure her that this isn't her fault, but she is a clever woman and is hugely frustrated and diminished by this cruel disease.

    I did wonder about using a pad and a pen, but I am not sure she would be able to write things down.
    One thing I have noticed - it is worse if she has more than one visitor at a time, as if you aren't careful you end up having a conversation that can (unintentionally) exclude her, which she hates.
     
  2. karaokePete

    karaokePete Registered User

    Jul 23, 2017
    4,834
    N Ireland
    My wife also has problems similar to those experienced by your mother, although maybe not as frequent. I find that I’m in a guessing game once or twice most days.

    To be honest, you have already mentioned some of the things that I have noticed, such as my wife being worse if over stimulated by company or taking a call from her daughter. When my wife is over excited just telling her to slow down sometimes helps.

    I have used body language such as her pointing, leaning towards, looking etc to help. However, my biggest aid is just trying to guess what she may be thinking as we always were good at knowing what the other was thinking - maybe that’s easier for husband and wife though. I have to admit that sometimes I have to tell my wife that I don’t know what she’s saying and luckily she just accepts that.
     
  3. ellejay

    ellejay Registered User

    Jan 28, 2011
    4,014
    Essex
    I used to try to gauge the feeling behind what my mum was saying , her facial expressions could usually help (not always, but mostly.)
    If I wasn't sure I used to go for a kind of non committal reply & try to change the subject.
     
  4. Helly68

    Helly68 Registered User

    Mar 12, 2018
    371
    Thanks for that - I think you are right in terms of knowing what they might be thinking
     
  5. Helly68

    Helly68 Registered User

    Mar 12, 2018
    371
    I think I do that as well - she is a determined lady so not happy if I change the subject! I don't blame her, very frustrating
     
  6. looviloo

    looviloo Registered User

    May 3, 2015
    464
    Female
    Cheshire
    It's awful, isn't it? I really feel for you and your mum, and understand the frustration on both sides. Dad started to lose his speech a number of years ago, and now struggles to say anything at all. We use thumbs up and down signals when asking questions with yes/no answers, and he can just about say one or two names of the people he wants to know about. Until recently we could still communicate somewhat using a pad and pen, and because I know him so well just a few letters could give me a clue as to the topic of concern. So getting into the habit of writing might not be a bad thing.

    Perhaps make some laminated cards of the main words your mum uses (names, short phrases, etc) so she can point at those? My dad is past this stage but it sounds like your mum could do this. Or picture cards, which I assume would be available online? She might even like to look through them and plan in advance what she wants to say. Good luck x
     
  7. elvismad

    elvismad Registered User

    Jan 8, 2012
    289
    It is just so very sad. This disease strips the person away layer by layer.
    I have noticed mums language seems to be failing her also. She sometimes speaks very softly so I struggle to hear her (although I'm not sure she is actually talking to me or herself) and on other occasions clearly cannot find the words. This is very frustrating for her as she is an intelligent woman who positively devoured books all her life. Sadly they now sit unopened.
    I tried giving mum pen and paper but her writing is completely illegible.
     
  8. G&D

    G&D Registered User

    Jul 18, 2018
    20
    We get this a lot and I’ve become quite skilled at it!
    I treat it like a game of 20 questions, what’s it about? What room is it in? What do you do with it? Is it about me? Is it about the dog? Is it about you? Take me and show me.
    Quite often the words he’s say8ng bear no relationship to what he’s talking about.
    It is frustrating and exhausting.
    There are times when I have to admit defeat and confess I have no idea what he’s on about but by that point he’s usually exhausted too!
    A recent example - he kept saying HMV. I went through everything, after about half an hour it turned out to be shut his bedroom door, the doorstop looks like the HMV dog!
     
  9. SKD

    SKD Registered User

    I have also noticed this with my Mum - particularly when we are talking on the phone. This is difficult for me as I live at a distance and used to phone daily - it now seems less helpful in the care home and if it is agitating her. I have developed a few non-committal encouraging responses and usually find Mum then finds the words again - at least for the moment. Like many other sufferers she was very articulate and read a great deal - she can't even manage a magazine now - it must be so frustrating. As this has been coupled with a some other signs of a worsening of her condition I am having to accept it as another stage in our lives.
     
  10. G&D

    G&D Registered User

    Jul 18, 2018
    20
    I need a sad button.
     
  11. Helly68

    Helly68 Registered User

    Mar 12, 2018
    371
    Thank you everyone - lots of parallels with our situation here - I will try a pad and pen and picture cards.
    I concur with many people here saying that their loved one used to read a lot - I think Mummy still likes to see the books, though she certainly doesn't read them any more. I find, if I can remember a quote from Shakespeare or other (usually plays - where she had to learn lines) she can often finish the quote - and enjoys doing so - perhaps a different part of memory, who knows. I will try and report back and see how things we try work out. My sympathies to you all experiencing this awful thing. I try to look for small moments of happiness. I bought some new clothes for her, which I showed her and we had a short convo about them and they were admired by others at her home. She seemed happy - and I held this thought for a while....
     
  12. Theresalwaystomorrow

    Theresalwaystomorrow Registered User

    Dec 23, 2017
    347
    I have had exactly the same o my this week. Mum has started to keep repeating a 6 figure number( I wonder weather she was remembering her Co op number.
    We have thought mum is in late stages but who knows with this dreadful decease
     
  13. ellejay

    ellejay Registered User

    Jan 28, 2011
    4,014
    Essex
    I remember we'd gone for ages with mum not being able to have a conversation & then one day there was an entertainer who had sparkly heels on her shoes. Mum stared, pointed & said "Nice"
    clear as anything :)
     
  14. garfield3

    garfield3 Registered User

    Jun 30, 2018
    150
    I agree with you ellejay, those moments are great. Mum has passed the conversation stage and last time I was home, Xmas, since I live abroad :( "mum was saying yes, no that is better." The distance seems too much , but that is another story. Most of the time she makes no sense and words seem to be getting less.

    Don't you just love this disease.!! :( :(
     
  15. Herewego

    Herewego Registered User

    Mar 9, 2017
    93
    Hi Helly68

    My MIL was actually quite quiet during her lifetime, a woman of few words so when she was in her last couple of years, she just stopped talking. My husband on the other hand doesn't stop talking and I have noticed he has started finding words difficult and for sometime has not been able to follow a conversation and 'escapes' into his head and then usually comes out with something related to his latest obsession. I dread when he really can't hold an intelligible conversation..........

    What I meant to add here is as you noted, many of these people were readers (while they could) - how about instead of trying to hold a conversation with them, ask what book they would like you to read from? If several of you visit but not at the same time, perhaps you can make a note of what book and how far you got and the next visitor can pick up where you left off. I know they are unlikely to remember what was read but they are likely to enjoy it while you are reading.

    Just a thought - it would take away their stress at trying to converse and may create a more restful visit for both parties??
     
  16. Helly68

    Helly68 Registered User

    Mar 12, 2018
    371
    Herewego - that is a good idea. I did read aloud to Mummy - her concentration varies and sometimes she just talks over me so I assume she isn't interested.
    On the same theme, poems work well, as they are short and she enjoys the rhythm and anything funny. She also joins in those that she remembers. As she went to drama school in her youth, plays are also good
     
  17. SKD

    SKD Registered User

    I have thought about reading to Mum but at the moment it would have to be a promenade performance as she hardly sits down!
     
  18. Theresalwaystomorrow

    Theresalwaystomorrow Registered User

    Dec 23, 2017
    347
    Hi SKD
    My mum can’t sit for very long neither she is so agitated and anxious it’s awful to watch, she is now leaning forward a lit and we’re afraid she is going to fall soon.
    Is your mum like this and In late stages
     
  19. SKD

    SKD Registered User

    @Theresalwaystomorrow we are in flux at the moment but I feel we are heading into late stages.Mum doesn't lean but with a hip and a knee replacement she doesn't alway's walk well and is liable to trip.
     

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