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Speech difficulties

canary

Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
13,434
South coast
Mum has classic Alzheimers and I was aware that the next mile-stone was likely to be loss of speech, but I thought that it would be that she would forget words or stutter and not be able to get them out. What is happening though is that quite often she will be talking and then a word, or phrase, or even a whole "sentence" comes out as if she is talking in a foreign language. Its not a foreign language, of course - its just gobbledygook and there is absolutely no way of knowing what she means, even though she seems to be completely unaware of what has happened.

Is this the usual way of losing speech?
 

CJinUSA

Registered User
Jan 20, 2014
1,121
eastern USA
Mum has classic Alzheimers and I was aware that the next mile-stone was likely to be loss of speech, but I thought that it would be that she would forget words or stutter and not be able to get them out. What is happening though is that quite often she will be talking and then a word, or phrase, or even a whole "sentence" comes out as if she is talking in a foreign language. Its not a foreign language, of course - its just gobbledygook and there is absolutely no way of knowing what she means, even though she seems to be completely unaware of what has happened.

Is this the usual way of losing speech?
Sorry to hear this. My mother does this sometimes. Sometimes she just closes her eyes and refuses to try to exchange with us. Yesterday she kept asking for "N" and pointing to the floor on the side where she can move her arm. After repeated efforts to distract her, when, an hour later, she said the same thing, I went and got her Scrabble game and pulled out the N and asked her if she wanted this. She said no, she wanted N, and pointed to the floor.

Other times, she has come out with complete gobbledygook, as you called it. But today she is perfectly clear - or as perfectly as she was a year ago - and able to watch television. We have been like this for about 6-8 months. Sometimes she sleeps whole days after a good day. We never quite know what we are getting up to. Today, it was poop in her pants, though we had toileted her two hours earlier (5 AM).

It's not fun, this disease, but it keeps us guessing.
 

nitram

Registered User
Apr 6, 2011
20,900
North Manchester
"Is this the usual way of losing speech?"

There's really no point in considering whether or nor anything is 'usual' when dealing with dementia, every case is unique but will have some similarities with others.

Various parts of the brain start malfunctioning and if the area controlling speech is affected words can be garbled, her brain might tell her she has said the correct words.

Ultimately the person can become mute as opposed to non verbalising.
 

canary

Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
13,434
South coast
Um, it sounds like maybe its not a very common way to lose speech.
Im at a complete loss to know how to deal with this as there is no way to even guess at what she means - especially when its a whole phrase and isnt accompanied by any gestures. She sees my baffled look and can get quite cross. I can deal with her confabulations, but I dont know what to do when I have no idea what she thinks she has said. Should I just say gently "Im sorry - I didnt quite catch that"? What happens when there is no intelligible speech left, but she thinks she is talking to me?
 

CJinUSA

Registered User
Jan 20, 2014
1,121
eastern USA
Um, it sounds like maybe its not a very common way to lose speech.
Im at a complete loss to know how to deal with this as there is no way to even guess at what she means - especially when its a whole phrase and isnt accompanied by any gestures. She sees my baffled look and can get quite cross. I can deal with her confabulations, but I dont know what to do when I have no idea what she thinks she has said. Should I just say gently "Im sorry - I didnt quite catch that"? What happens when there is no intelligible speech left, but she thinks she is talking to me?
What I do when my mother talks unintelligibly to me is get right near her, give her a warm smile and touch her good arm and say, Mom, I'm not really understanding you right now. Can we try talking again later? She'll usually just nod her head and close her eyes.

Yesterday, when she grew agitated, I finally said I wasn't sure what it was she was asking for, so could we wait a bit and try to find it later, and that satisfied her.
 

tigerlady

Registered User
Nov 29, 2015
427
Um, it sounds like maybe its not a very common way to lose speech.
Im at a complete loss to know how to deal with this as there is no way to even guess at what she means - especially when its a whole phrase and isnt accompanied by any gestures. She sees my baffled look and can get quite cross. I can deal with her confabulations, but I dont know what to do when I have no idea what she thinks she has said. Should I just say gently "Im sorry - I didnt quite catch that"? What happens when there is no intelligible speech left, but she thinks she is talking to me?
My husband, if he's not in "when are we going home" mode, talks nonstop - lots of it makes no sense, but he seems to be telling a story of something he thinks he has done or something he thinks has happened, and if I laugh when he laughs and nod or say some other comment to show I'm listening, he is quite happy. It does sound like another language sometimes, and various care home staff have said to me " I didnt know your husband could speak Spanish/Italian etc"(which he can't!). I try to listen hard and if I pick up something I can understand, I comment on that.
Other times he can hold a proper conversation for a while but substitutes made up words sometimes. I ask what those words mean sometimes but he usually comes up with another made up word. Once he was looking a bit restless and said he wanted a table - from observing his restlessness, I asked if he wanted the toilet, and took him and that was what he wanted!

I sometimes say to him, sorry I cant understand what you've just said - can you speak a bit slower and other times I just try to initiate a conversation that means something and hope he carries on with that. Mostly, though, if he is happy telling his tale, I let him carry on
 

canary

Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
13,434
South coast
Thank you tigerlily, you seem to be describing what its like with mum exactly.
You have given good advice - Ill try not to look baffled!
 

ellejay

Registered User
Jan 28, 2011
4,019
Essex
My mum's speech varies, sometimes, if she's relating a "remembered " conversation with her parents or other long gone relatives, she is quite lucid, but other times she'll be telling me something & it's as though someone emptied a bag of random letters & they fall where they may, some form words I recognise & some don't
I try to gauge her mood more than the content. If she's laughing as she speaks, I smile too, if she looks grumpy I sympathise.

I don't always get it right & she'll give me an old fashioned look & then I quickly try a diversion

It's hard though

Lin x
 

canary

Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
13,434
South coast
Yes, it is hard Lin. I think its because I wasnt expecting her to lose speech in this way. I sort of thought that she would lose language and her speech would become more and more simplified till eventually she wouldnt talk at all. This gibberish is really hard. Mum loves to chatter and even when she was confabulating I knew how to answer and we would have a lot of laughs together. I somehow feel that i have lost her even more than when she started to not recognise me :(
 

Amy in the US

Registered User
Feb 28, 2015
4,617
USA
My mother's neurologist calls the gibberish, "word salad," and I don't think it's uncommon, although I'm really not certain how frequently it occurs in patients with dementia. I am sorry it's upsetting to you, and I am sure it's frustrating not to be able to communicate (for both of you, I mean).

I don't think there is much here that relates to what you're describing but I'll post a link anyway: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=130

And here is one from Canada, that at least mentions what you describe: http://www.alzheimer.ca/en/Living-with-dementia/Ways-to-communicate

And some specific advice: http://www.alzheimer.ca/en/Living-w...e/Tips-for-communicating-person-with-dementia

I have seen other posters mention that they use a form of picture card with their PWD (person with dementia) to try to communicate better about wants and needs.

Scroll down to "using visual cues" on this page: http://hubpages.com/health/How-to-Communicate-With-Someone-Who-Has-Dementia

Sorry I cannot be of more help.
 

Linbrusco

Registered User
Mar 4, 2013
1,633
Auckland...... New Zealand
i care for my Mum with AD, but my husband has apahsia due to surgery and treatment for a brain tumour.
My husband occasionally cannot get certain words out, will substitute words for another, and at his absolute worse if highly stressed will have a partial seizure and will not be able to talk at all for 5-10 minutes. ( thankfully hasn't happened for over 5 yrs)
Sometimes, especially when tired will come out with a sentence that doesn't quite make sense.
I find this extremely difficult even after 12 yrs, and he gets very frustrated and agitated if I look at him in a puzzled way. Sometimes to make sense of it myself I repeat back to myself what he has said. I have a habit of thinking out loud. Makes my husband even more irate. I really do try to stop myself.
Years back when my husband saw a speech therapist she told me not to finish my husbands sentences off or come out with the word that he couldn't say but to give him time to finish.

Mum in the last year has started to stop sentences midway as she has forgotten what she was going to say or can't get the exact word out.
Sometimes doesn't make sense, not that shes talkng gobbeldy gook, but just the structure of her sentence
 

canary

Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
13,434
South coast
Thats almost exactly like my OH Linbrusco - he cant remember words, he goes round the houses to explain the word he means, he substitutes words with either a similar meaning or a similar sound and sometimes he puts words in the wrong order. So thats what I was expecting with mum. I can cope with OH - I have had a lot of practice! He never substitutes completely made up words, though. The first time mum came out with a sentence entirely composed of made up words my chin nearly hit the floor - I couldnt begin to understand what she meant.