• We're currently experiencing technical issues with our newsletter software, so our Dementia Talking Point monthly updates have been put on hold for now. We hope to restart the newsletter soon.

    Find out more >here<.

Quirks of the disease


Registered User
Sep 16, 2005
I'm not sure if Dad's behaviours are things that all dementia sufferers display, if they are only early onset quirks, or they were just particular to dad, but I thought i'd sit here and make a list for others to compare their experiences too:

1. Washing up and drying up, dad had to do the washing up from very early in the piece, all he ever seemed to be doing when I visited was standing at the sink. i don't know if he did this because he was compelled to or because he was trying to avoid interacting and was still able to feel useful doing so;

2. Then there came the sweeping, he would drive mum mad with his incessant sweeping. This one seemed more of a compulsion, he had to do it;

3. Leaving the tap, just on. I was always reminded that Dad had been at my house after he had left because I would find the bathroom tap on, not rushing out, just a little bit more than a drip, so he had turned it off but not clicked that he hadn't turned it all the way off; I know years from now, when I see a tap slightly on, I will think of him, how crazy, eh?

4. Eating everything and anything, I put this down to the regression, behaving like a baby, I would hear him eating the phone when mum passed it to him to talk to me, he has eaten rocks, and stone fruit with very large stones, bananas with their skins on, nothing that has led to a medical emergency though;

5. Trying to use a knife and fork and the knife would always be used with the sharp bit facing up. A few times when I was under enormous stress i found myself continually doing the same thing, freaky! :eek:

6.Forgetting how to eat a sandwich, he'd continually pick up the top part of the sandwich, i.e. the top piece of bread and then make a right mess when trying to eat the rest, could not understand no matter how much we tried to show him that the whole thing must be picked up together. It was then that we started to buy him chicken nuggets and chips (he always used to hate Kentucky fried chicken before?!) when we got take away at the shops;

7. Appearing to refer to us all as numbers, the clearest of all was number one, that was my mother. Mum used to ask me what I thought number one was because he was always so angry when he talked about it, reluctantly she now agrees it appears to have been her!

8. Picking at cracks or patterns, stepping over patterned floors in an exaggerated manner. I put this one down to depth perception, patterns and cracks seem to have appeared 3D to him for some reason;

9. Repeating words, bloody, bloody, bloody was a favourite as well as one, one, one which often went together with bloody, bloody, bloody! Then there was go, go, go, and no,no,no,no and you,you, you; These have all become well used phrases in our house by myself and my partner, they are really good for emphasising a point! Interstingly he rarely used the word 'yes', whenever he had used it we really pay attention for we know it must be very important.

10. Referring to me, his child as 'mine'. He would see me coming and say to mum as if to question, 'mine'? And then while I was with them, he would say every now and then and look at me, 'mine'. He seemed happy about that.

11. Walking, walking, walking. These days if he is not sitting he walks endlessly back and forth up and down the hall, he regularly walks into other resident's rooms but particularly the four end rooms, 2 at each end and goes to the curtain and peers out, appears to think for a bit and then walks out again, then he goes into the opposite room, looks out the window, pauses at the mirror, looks at himself for a while and appears to now recognise that it is himself, looks for a long time and then walks out again and back down the hall to the other two rooms. I suspect he's caught in a mental loop of some kind when he does this, he seems to need to touch the door at each end and follow the same path each time. We also think that maybe its how he keeps a mental picture in his head of the layout of the place firm.

12. Wonderful surprises. I can be walking beside him for quite some time and then once in a while he will turn to me and oh the look of surprise and delight! He appears to have forgotten I was there and is very happy to see me. For this reason I often walk away from him in the home for a bit and then come back, just to get this delighted look on his face!

13. Flicking at something in the air behind me, reaching out to touch something on the ground that he can see but I can't. These may be due to hallucinations or depth perception.

14. Blowing. Its hard to describe he gives you this look and then he blows, like he's blowing a candle out. We think it means a kiss, but he forgets half way how to give it and so blows air at us. The atmosphere he gives it in, always appears to be one in which you would kiss someone or squeeze their hand, its quite touching. Dad was always very reticent about showing affection in the past, but he appears to have changed and its nice.

15. Just once or twice a whistle. Whether this is a confusion with the blow or what I don't know, but a couple of times Dad has looked at me and then given a one note perfect whistle. He was always a wonderful whistler and I have never been able to so it amazes me that he can still do this and I can't!

Well thats all that come to mind today, there are probably heaps more but these are the ones that I really remember well. Hope some of you can relate.

Nutty Nan

Registered User
Nov 2, 2003
Nat, I can relate to some:
#1 - Washing up: spot on!
#2 - Not sweeping, but polishing!
#4 - Eating anything within reach: cards, crockery, hankies, bananas with skin ...
#6 - Sandwiches: Spot on!
#13 - Seeing things: yep! Picks up all sorts of imaginary things off the floor, then plays with them ...............

16. Rubbing, endless rubbing: the top of the table, kitchen worktops, the mattress or pillow at night, his chest or legs during the day, often items he is handling, especially audio tapes or CDs. There was a period when he rubbed his audio tapes so much that he rubbed a hole into his denim jeans!

17. Collecting anything and everything: coins, shiny bits of paper, bottle tops, silver foil, pens, keys - he would pick them up outdoors, or 'steal' them indoors, put them in his pockets - we have even found picture frames down his trouser leg!

18. Hiding mail: it started by him wanting to give me a surprise when I returned from work, but often he had forgotten that he had a surprise for me, or if he remembered, he would not know where his secret hiding place was. I got used to regularly checking the top of kitchen cupboards, but I still occasionally find an old letter tucked somewhere between the hundreds of books in our house!

19. He regarded specific items of cutlery and crockery as 'his own' - he'd go mad if anyone else used them, or if he was given any others to use! For manyh months he used to wrap his breakfast spoons/knife in a polythene bag to keep it safe from anyone else.

So many of these things used to irritate us - now we wish we could go back to those days!!!