My FIL stopped talking actively last May. The funny part is if people call him on the phone, he is motivated to talk more on the phone although he has trouble expressing himself. If we go see him in person, he can barely say anything to us. Not even hi or calling the name of his son. It does not matter when we call, any time we call, he talks on the phone. Something about he thinks he has to talk on the phone but he does not have to talk in person. It is a bit like a baby but he made more conscious choice like an adult. He behaves and thinks like a baby but he is still able to "wake up" and talk using these tools that are meant for adults.
It amazed me that he can make such distinction. He knows when he has to talk. I have never seen anyone who is so conscious about his own needs.
When he needs anything, he will talk or yell or say something. When he is content and there is no phone call, he just shuts up and is reluctant to talk.
Yes, the ability to speak is compromised by Alzheimer's. It becomes more and more difficult for them to communicate and express themselves. They are also very much in the moment. They do not have the ability to predetermine when they will talk or will not talk. Maybe they don't want to be embarrassed by not being able to say what they want in the moment with you there. They see you face to face. Who knows. He might be back 20 years ago when he was perhaps angry and not speaking. Or he might just not have anything to say. There is no way to communicate on a phone except to talk. Perhaps that is why he tries to talk on the phone. What you have to remember is that it is not predetermined but just what he feels like doing in the moment.
Mom lost her ability to communicate almost 3 years ago. She lost her ability to comprehend what she was hearing before that. Her auditory perception left early. Because she didn't know what you were saying to her she didn't know how to respond but she did try until 3 years ago. Now she just blurts out random words. She may put two or three words together that make a sentence but I have no idea if they are truly what she means and they are never related to anything ask. Mostly it is just jibberish. Once in a while she will say my name when I walk in or start to leave but I rarely hear it because she says it softly and only when I am coming or going. The staff will always tell me Non of this is predetermined. It is all in the moment and nothing we can coax out of her. It just happens.
It sounds as if your FIL and my DH are tracking each other's stage within a few weeks. DH is getting quieter and quieter too. His speech was no longer an attempt at a conversation or response to something that we said. He could break into gibberish at any time if somone was talking to him, or even talk to himself. It was random.
In addition to getting quieter, DH's eyes are getting blanker. He doesn't interact as much with the aides or other patients. Moments of any perception at all seem to becoming much rarer. (We're not entirely in agreement on whether there are flashes of recognition that we're his family, or if he brightens a little because someone is giving him attention - I think he still briefly recognizes us, but my kids think that he is just reacting to someone sitting with him). He no longer walks at all. He's starting to lose weight slowly, even though he appears to still be eating ok when fed. In other words, he's shutting down slowly.
As we enter year 3 in the NH, I've noticed that DH's ward's personality has changed. A few patients have died over the last two years, but now the remaining patients (who were either admitted before DH or shortly after DH's admission) are getting deeper and deeper into Alzheimers. The ward is very quiet now. Almost none of the patients are still walking. Considering it had been the facility's "behavior" ward when DH was admitted, it's a big change. There are no more women who think DH is their husband, no more men trying to open the security doors, no more people taking each other's possessions or getting into arguments with each other, and no more patients asking about going home. Just the sound of a few tvs quietly playing in the lounge or in patient rooms, and the nurse and aides talking to each other and to patients....
The nearby ward, on the other hand, had been quiet two years ago. Now that ward has more newly admitted patients, who are more active.
DH's NH is a large facility that specializes in AD, so it has all ranges. The NH had been suggesting that patients change rooms and wards when their condition warranted. Most people have refused to move their family member on the basis that their family-member should not be subjected to a change of room and familiar staff. It seems wasteful or DH to still have a single room when he spends no little time in it, but I also want to keep as much consistency in his life as possible.
It doesn't get easier.
Last edited by Beginning; 03-12-2012 at 03:49 AM.
The following user gives a hug of support to Beginning: ninamarc (03-12-2012)
My FIL closes his eyes now refusing to be involved with the activities. Looks like he is sleeping but he tuned it out as well. Maybe one day he won't talk on the phone.
Where he is in a better ward. There are 2 wings in this home for memory impaired. He is still in the East side. This side has more people who talk/walk and etc. Yes I do notice some people are worse and gone. But some people are still there and my FIL got sicker than they. The other side the west wing has sicker people but the lobby there is smaller and more crowdy with family and caregivers. He is not to go to the west side yet but he may later. There are only 32 residents each wing. The home has a long waiting list.
Some days the side is quiet. However, we still see people with different stages. My FIL is the one that got worse as they notice. The family can tell when they see him.
It is so much change. Just a year ago, he was talking and loving the Easter's bunny activity! That was the last time he really talked a lot.
There is just one unit with 24 residents where Mom is. It is attached to an AL facility. What I have noticed is that AL residents tend to stay in AL for way too long. If they do move to the Alz unit it is very late in the disease. Those that come in from outside are usually the higher functioning residents who are there because of wandering and will not stay in the AL either. Right now there are 2 with higher functioning. The other 18 are split between walkers with language deficiencies and those that are non ambulatory. Since Christmas we have lost 5 residents. What I find more amazing is that there is only one resident still present that was there when Mom moved in 3 years ago.
As for the noise level... the care managers are the noisy element! Some worse than others. There is one group on second shift that it always sounds like a noisy party. Banging dishes, slamming doors, loud talking and laughter are common. What bothers me is that it is not about the residents and can be upsetting.
And I might as well say it. I am not thrilled with the new Coordinator. Instead of getting someone with practical dementia experience, medical knowledge, care giving experience, and a strong management style... we have a night mare again
We saw a few younger people actually. One lady is really young (like middle age and her hair is dark, not white.) She came in a wheelchair. Later she was able to walk on her own. I think everyone in this home is different. A younger guy who was in the room across my FIL's room just moved to the west wing for being sicker.
The staff are not allowed to tell you what diseases the residents have. There are all kinds of dementia here so I cannot say who has Alzheimer's.
I know that some people don't have AD because they are still Ok. One lady who always walks in her wheelchair is capable to be alone on her way and she talks very well like a manager. She is strong-willed and she likes my FIL but she knew that he is sicker. I wonder she must have different type of dementia. Everyone in this home has dementia.
The sad thing is I often saw some younger people who were admitted. I think more people are now aware of dementia.
For us, we admiited my FIL when he was in late moderate stage. We had to wait as well. This home is busy with a long waiting list.
That is why in a year, my FIL became severe. He really moved in when he was quite sick.