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Old 03-21-2007, 01:51 PM   #1
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Alzheimers - lack of communication

Can anyone tell me if "lack of communication" is part of alzheimers. My husband's dad no longer communicates anything further than yes or no to questions. He ocassionally will ask if he can have something? That's about it for conversation. Is this typical of alzheimers?

Thanks

 
Old 03-21-2007, 02:00 PM   #2
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Your Experiences with Alzheimers

I should have asked this in my previous post, but can some of you share your experience with alzheimers. What kind of symptoms did your spouse, father,mother or other display in the beginning and forward? Your input will be appreciated.

 
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Old 03-21-2007, 05:10 PM   #3
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Re: Alzheimers - lack of communication

Yes this is typical. My dad is slowly losing his ability to communicate. I think in my dad's case, he has a hard time following a conversation or remembering what's being said. I think this is the reason he goes into the silent mode. He does still respond fairly appropriately to short, to the point sentences. His answers are also short and to the point.

In the beginning, dad started getting a bit sloppy about housework and upkeep on the house but still was able to get by well. Around the same time, dad began repeating the same stories. At this point, the progression was so slow that we never even paid attention to it. We chocked it up to his age and the loss of my mother a few years before. Dad was also becoming more reclusive.

Then the bills were going unpaid. Home and car insurance lapsed. Property taxes went unpaid. He was losing things. Bills went unopened while junk mail was carefully opened and preserved. Then dad just piled all the mail up. My family and I moved in with dad. We thought it would be easier for him to stay in familiar surroundings. It was around this time that I began to notice that dad's personality was changing. He was becoming more argumentative and depressed. This was the most difficult time for me because I was taking the brunt of his verbal abuse. The verbal abuse almost went into physical when he drew his fist up at me. It was a short time later that I realized I could no longer take care of dad and remain healthy myself. It's just too much for one person.

My sister offered to come get dad and take him home with her. He's been there for a couple of years. My sister has a lot of in-law's there who help her. I had no one here where I live to help me.

Dad is getting worse. He cries more than he ever did. He's semi incontinent now. But even in the midst of that, my sister says it's getting easier. Gone are the threats of suicide and disappearing with the car followed by calls to the police. And gone is the rude police officer who told me to get dad a cell phone! My answer to that? How on earth will I teach him to use a cell phone when he can no longer use the type of phone he's used for 77 years because he forgot how to?

I can only imagine how he'd try to dial the phone here now. We now have to dial 11 digits to phone our next door neighbor! We have that overlapping area code thing.

Long story short (too late for that! ), it took dad about 12 years to get where he is now. Judging from other's reports, dad seems to be progressing probably a bit slower than most.

Love, Barb
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Last edited by LuvMyLilDoggie; 03-21-2007 at 05:16 PM.

 
Old 03-21-2007, 11:57 PM   #4
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Re: Alzheimers - lack of communication

Hi Missy,

Since you asked for instances of our relatives progressing and starting to show alz "things", here is part of my dad's:

We all thought that our dad, grandpa and greatgrandpa, was becoming more hard of hearing. We kept telling him to get a hearing aid! Then he was silent more often! Sort of like - he hardly talked unless talked too or asked a question!

Finally one day, my niece was at my parents house, just visiting. She asked him if something was wrong. And he told her that he just did not feel right! So, she set up an appt. for him to go to his family dr. Since it was her spring break (a teacher), she took him also.

She kept me informed of what all had happened. So, then about a month later, I went with him to a neurologist, and my mother went too.

After about 4 tests, he was diagnosed with alzheimers and parkinsons. He was at the mild to moderate, for about 10 or more years. Then started getting about moderate for a year or two.

Just over the last 6 months, he has gone down faster. He has had a couple of out patient operations, so that might have contributed to his alz. and parkinsons diagnoses. He takes Sinemet for parkinsons, and was taking Aricept for 3 - 4 years. No he no longer takes Aricept.

Hope this helps you.

Love, Wannabe

 
Old 03-22-2007, 06:13 AM   #5
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Re: Alzheimers - lack of communication

Yes, my FIL is like this right now. We knew something was wrong about four years ago. He has been in a nursing home for the past two years. When we visit he stares at us and rarely says anything without being prompted. I ask how he is doing and he will say, "I am fine" or not answer at all. When he does say something on his own it is starting to sound a little garbled and he won't repeat it if we ask what he said.

My husband and I own a restaurant. One of the first thing we notice with people who develop AD is their inability to give you the proper cash for what they order. If you say the total is $3.25, they will look at the $5 or $10 in their hand and not know which one to give you. Also, they will not know what to order and just say they want what they had last time they were there.

In my FIL's case, he called constantly because his television was not working (couldn't figure out the remote control anymore), made mistakes in his checkbook, even buying a $10,000 certificate of deposit when he didn't have the money in his checking account (had to cover that one for him), told the same story over and over, got lost in our small town, and started getting up at 3 a.m., thinking it was morning. Oh, he stopped being interested in reading anything and dropped out of his various clubs.

He had a favorite booth in our restaurant. One day a woman was sitting there with her children. He sat down with her and started to make a grab for her soda before she snatched it away. I kept thinking how horrified he would be if he knew how he was acting.

Jane

 
Old 03-22-2007, 07:39 AM   #6
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Re: Alzheimers - lack of communication

Thanks for your replies....it's helpful to know what to expect, and confirm what's going on. I'm afraid for quite a while we were thinking he was still grieving or depressed (although the medication for depression didn't seem to make much difference in the things he was doing). It's sad how this disease can take a person that previously always had something to say to having "nothing" to say. The blank stares when we would try to talk with him were what always puzzled me, but I can see that this is somewhat common. Over a period of a couple of years, it seemed to happen so gradually that we thought it was the aging process. But as it progressed, we knew "something" was going on, we just didn't know what. What also puzzles me is that maybe a few months ago he seemed to have a "day when he had a brief conversation, but nothing since then???? Are there any do's and don'ts that family should be aware of? Thanks

 
Old 03-22-2007, 08:25 AM   #7
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Re: Alzheimers - lack of communication

Yes, there are ways to deal with it. I had the same experiences with my mother, and the hardest thing for me was to react calmly and without criticism. If she said some outrageous thing, such as, "I saw Stella this morning" (her deceased sister in law) I used to correct her. "Maybe it was someone who looked like Stella, but remember, Stella died in 1956." No effect - she got very defensive and angry and said the same thing a little while later.

A few examples of how you can react to keep the peace and help the loved one to feel loved and accepted.

1. She says "Today is Friday, I have to go to the bank."
You answer, "OK we'll go later." even though it is Thursday and she doesn't have to go to the bank on either day. You know that by tomorrow she will have forgotten.

2."Where is my money? You took it! You always take my money!"
"how much do you need? Here, I am putting that much in your wallet."

You'd be surprised how hard it is not to say, "I did NOT, I do not steal from you! What are you thinking! You must be losing your mind."

3. "I didn't get lunch. You never give me anything to eat any more."
"OK, let's have a nice cup of coffee and a piece of pie, or a cookie."

Since she ate half an hour ago she will not feel much like eating the pie or cookie, but you have kept the peace and made her feel good, instead of "Yes you did ! We ate no more than half an hour ago!"

4. "I want to go out, I need some air."
(it is 2 AM and she just woke you up.)
"Oh what a great idea. I need some fresh air too. Let's have a cup of cocoa before we get dressed and go out."

After the cocoa is made and drunk, she happily goes back to bed.

It is hard but not impossible to create a peaceful atmosphere, with a lot of role playing and little white lies.

Love,

Martha

 
Old 03-22-2007, 01:22 PM   #8
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Re: Alzheimers - lack of communication

Martha...excellent suggestions! In this horrendous disease, we have to remember that little person is somewhat aware of the changes they are going thru.

I remember bringing my Mom from the Alz. facility to my home for a weekend so I could take her to the cemetaries for our annual flower visits. She seemed to be trying so hard to impress me with remembering her surroundings...but it did not work. I helped her remove debris and carve a little hole to plant the geranium on her Mother's grave...(a Grandma I had never met)...she wanted to wander all over the cemetary...I just walked with her. That night, she woke us up at 3:00 a.m. crying that she could not find Dad, who passed away 25 years before. Seeing this tiny woman get a very scared look in her eyes and throw back her head and wail the most mournful cry I'd ever heard made me realize she was somewhat aware of some of the changes going on in her head. I carefully tip-toed her back into bed and lay beside her, wrapping her against me to calm her down.

In the beginning, I noticed with Mom and some of the other clients that if their words came out jumbled, they often were aware of it and did not want to repeat it. I truly believe an Alzhiemers patient can hear and understand what is said around them...and have been saddened by some of the situations I have witnessed. Mom is in her 9th year...it is rare for her to say anything at all...but I KNOW she does understand most of what I say...she is just not able to respond. When a few mangled words do escape her lips, I repeat one of them back to her and she seems content that she has communicated with me.

In the beginning, my siblings (especially the BROTHERS) got very angry with me because I would "go to her world". I work with a lot of Special Needs students, and techniques I have learned to be successful with them surely made my relationship with Mom easier...but it took a long time for some to accept these changes in our Mother.

Hope this helps a little......Pam

 
Old 03-22-2007, 04:47 PM   #9
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Re: Alzheimers - lack of communication

I would like to think that "going into their world" is the best thing you can do for them. I don't understand why that would anger anyone. I can remember when my husband's dad was in rehab, I met some little ladies who I knew had alzheimers, they were quite talkative, and I just would go along with them in whatever they said...some would even cry, to which I could only sympathize with them.

But my husband's dad has seemingly skipped all that (as he just became more or more quiet). I've also often wondered if he can "understand" and is just trapped, so to speak. For me, this is more difficult to understand as with the little ladies who talked quite a bit (at least you knew they had alz and if they were difficult to console, you knew you tried). But for me it's difficult to know how to reach someone who no longer communicates. If we try to involve him in a little something or ask him if he'd like to do a particular thing, his reply is always "no".

Martha's suggestions were good, though the only thing I can identify with is even though he's eaten lunch maybe 30 min ago, you might ask if he's had lunch yet & he'll say no. And of course, he will not have seen someone for a week , when if fact, they were there every day to visit. But we only find out those things through questioning and his replies involve mostly yes or nos. I'm slowly learning that alzheimers can be a long, slow decline. It's indeed sad.

 
Old 03-22-2007, 05:28 PM   #10
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Re: Alzheimers - lack of communication

It's interesting that throughout this awful disease my mother has always been talkative. Now she talks less, but when she gets going she can tell amazing made up stories. Although she is in a nursing home, confined to a wheelchair which someone else has to push, she recently told my brother the following story:

"She had visitors who shared her room. There was a mother, father and school aged children. She enjoyed having children in the house again. She was glad to help these people.

"She followed a busload of Sunday School children in her wheelchair. The bus was going slowly so she could keep up. They went to a lake, where all the kids swam despite the cold winter weather. She decided not to swim since it was so cold. Then all had a picnic. The kids were all blonde, apparently of northern European origin. They were very well behaved and she loved having them around her. She made it back to CSH in time for her meal.

"It's so great to have children around again. Now I really want to live to 100. This is the best my life has ever been."

I am often awestruck by her contentment. If nothing interesting is going on, she makes something up and believes it, or maybe saw something like it on TV or overhears others talking about it, and assumes it was happening to her.

I had to laugh when I visualized this 98 year old woman speeding down the highway following a school bus ....

My mother has always had a positive attitude and expected life to be fun and an adventure. Who could have thought this would continue into advanced AD with total dependency on others for all the necessities of life?

I think those who do not or cannot speak must have an entirely different kind of Dementia. I can see how hard it would be not to get answers, not to get any feedback. Oh how I hope for a cure.

love,

Martha

Last edited by Martha H; 03-22-2007 at 05:30 PM.

 
Old 03-22-2007, 10:05 PM   #11
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Unhappy Re: Alzheimers - lack of communication

Hi - just need to jump in and say a few more thing,

I go to my parents almost always on Tuesdays. Other times also, for illness, dr. appts. and such. Well, I went this Tuesday. Needless to say, I did not get much done at their house (bills and taxes), because my dad is getting worse, pretty suddenly. And my moms slight dementia, is getting worse.

But, this is tax time and my dad usually is having a cow right now, hurrying me to get the taxes ready to go to the CPS. He used to help a little bit.

I made the mistake of mentioning that it was tax time 2 weeks ago, so at least once every time i go to their house, he says something. But gets it all mixed up! Well, this Tues. he thought that he would not have his after lunch nap, and help me do taxes. We have been collecting all in papers for tax time, I just need to bring them home and work on them - the CPA and I already talked about filing an extention. But, we cannot tell my dad yet, or he would get really anxious about that!!!

So, now to what I started out to say: He was sitting in the chair, just looking at papers, and not knowing what was what, and he started talking in weird sentences! They seemed to be real words, but slurred and used in the incorrect order, so as not to make any sense!!! :<

I told him that he need to go and have a nap, and he got up and could not walk by himself (the week before, he could) And probably still can, someimes walk... But, this time, I was yelling for my mom to come and help me, because I could not hold him up and was trying to get him to his bed. It took both my mom and me, about 10 min. to hold him up and walk him and I just let him fall on the bed.

So, this is getting scary here... Scares my mom too, but she will not admit it!

Yall take care, and dont mind me, I can go on and on!

Love, Wannabe

 
Old 03-22-2007, 10:13 PM   #12
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Re: Alzheimers - lack of communication

it can be parts of the brain that enables one to know how to communicate can be affected

 
Old 03-22-2007, 10:15 PM   #13
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Re: Alzheimers - lack of communication

my mom had alzheimers and that does happen they start talking of all things that don't make a lick a bit of sense.

 
Old 03-23-2007, 06:35 AM   #14
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Re: Alzheimers - lack of communication

I have noticed the women in my FIL's AD lockdown unit tend to be very talkative while the men seem content to sit in their chairs and say very little. Yesterday we took our son to visit his grandfather. Needless to say, he did not know our son, but he did know my husband and me. He said very little and seemed to have something in his mouth the entire time we were there.

While we were there we were approached by three different women. One thought the AD unit was a farm and wanted my son to buy it. One wanted to hire my husband to do some work for her--preferably on a beach somewhere and the other asked our help in finding a "monk". They were so sweet. I would rather have my FIL talking about anything no matter how silly than to have him just stare at us and not say anything.

Jane

 
Old 03-23-2007, 05:05 PM   #15
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Re: Alzheimers - lack of communication

Wannabe and Jane,
Do you think your father could have had a mini-stroke? Or is this typical for him when he doesn't get rest?

Jane,
I can't tell you how many times I've had the same thoughts.....I'd much rather he talk about "something" than say nothing and stare with the blank look. But we don't have a say in the process, do we? It's odd how the effects of the alz are so different from person to person.

Missy

 
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