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Repetitive Phrases/Sing-Song Speak

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Old 12-30-2006, 12:40 AM   #1
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Repetitive Phrases/Sing-Song Speak

In case you want the bottom line, I've highlighted way down there, but I always write a lot in case something is important. Thanks for your patience...

My dad is 92 years old, pretty good for an old guy born in proverty in rural China. For the last 3 years, his medical conditions have included congestive heart failure, angioplasty, and pacemaker inserted, but everything is under control. The CHF comes up a couple times a year when he overindulge in salty foods, but it's hard to tell a 92 year old to change his diet!

He lives in his own home with a caregiver family (husband, wife, and 16 year old daughter - the wife has another job, so the husband is the main caregiver, although they treat him like their own dear old dad).

During Thanksgiving weekend, we took him out to a restaurant. I noticed that he was reading out the menu but in a sing-song fashion (like singing "roast duck," "BEEF with brocolli"). When he came over to our house, he sat at the sofa and either sang to us what he wanted to say (Your DADDY is VERY tired). I asked him why he was singing and he said, "What?" I didn't pursue it.

About a day or two later, his blood pressure was higher than normal, he was looking lethargic, and he was singing/talking much more, so his caregivers called me, and we brought him to urgent care (he's a patient at the local Veterans Hospital). He had CHF and pneumonia, so they had him stay for several nights. He lost 10 lbs. of water and went home. For the first two weeks, he was incontinent (he normally has control); he continued to sing, sometimes all night long; he didn't have much appetite; and he was extremely tired (alert about two to three hours a day at best). The doctor came for a home visit, adjusted his medication, and he has improved: he's able to control his bladder and eat a little more. However, he is still very lethargic and can't walk like he used to (as in like six weeks ago), but I'm much more concerned about the constant singing (instead of talking) and the repetitive phrases. An example would be his singing to the caregiver "you don't need to give me more food, you don't need to give me more food, you don't need..."

My dad has always had a different way of thinking than "normal" society at the time, although in hindsight, sometimes he's just ahead of his time... like when he wrote an essay that MLK would be assasinated or that we shouldn't invade Iraq (when Congress was voting on it several years ago). Because he was 52 when I was born, he's always been "old" to me, so I've always excused his behavior/thoughts as "Dad's like that cuz he's old." If he were showing signs of dementia, I would have just excused them all, BUT this repetition and singing is REALLY different.

Is this the beginning of dementia? Are there tests for this? Any insights? Thanks.

Last edited by boltnut55; 12-30-2006 at 12:46 AM.

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Old 12-30-2006, 04:12 AM   #2
Martha H
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Re: Repetitive Phrases/Sing-Song Speak

I have never heard of sing-songing as a sign of dementia. However there are two possible connections. Some people get a symptom of dementia called Aphasia when they have trouble finding the right word, and babble. Those same patients however, do not forget the songs they learned earlier and can sing without stuttering. Maybe your brilliant father has devised a way to express himself by sing song instead of regular sentences?

My Mom has a similar life story athough from a different continent - also a child of poverty , came to America from Germany at age 16 and had a good life. She is now 98 and in a nursing home because a broken hip never healed and she never was able to walk again. All her children are 'old' themselves and not able to lift or turn her or get her up and down stairs.

Mom also has Dementia in a very late stage. It began with forgetting small things which we blamed on old age, until ***arre things began happening She got lost in her own neighborhood, stopped picking up her mail in her mailbox, forgot to pay bills, etc. I went to live with her for 5 years and her mind deteriorated enormously.

As one of the other posters said, it hardly matters what the diagnosis is, since nothing can cure dementia anyway. Just keep him safe, don't allow him to drive a car if he still does, and see to it that he is not a danger to himself or others. Your loving family will make it easier for him.

Good luck!


Old 12-31-2006, 10:28 PM   #3
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Re: Repetitive Phrases/Sing-Song Speak

Hi boltnut,

The way to get your father possibly diagnosed is to take him to a neurologist. That kind of dr. will do a MMSE test that would help him to diagnose your father. You should take him, if he has not already been.

But, considering your fathers age, like Martha said, it may be just as well to leave your father alone and just take good care of him, like you have been. Just agree and go along with him to the extent that you and others can.

Good luck to you and try not to stress too much.

Love, Wannabe

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