Common Language Problems of Severe-Stage Alzheimer's

As the ability to process language deteriorates, your loved one may experience any of the following communication problems:

  • Speaking a "hidden language:" Unable to conjure up the exact words to express a thought, they may come close. For example, "It's raining" on a sunny day might mean, "I wet my pants."

  • Using singsong: For some people, music and song remain important means of communication. They can't speak, but they can sing, and they use this to "talk" even though the words may be largely nonsensical.

  • Speaking gibberish: The tone is earnest, even animated, but none of the words make sense -- or are real words at all.

  • Going mute: Some people lose the ability to speak at all, or they utter only a handful of words (such as "yes" and "no").

    SEE ALSO: Find Memory Care Near You


12 months ago, said...

My husband uses words backward: up means down, no for yes, lots of opposites. It takes real interpretation to figure out why he really means. What he used to want, nonverbal clues and just plain guess and hope!


over 2 years ago, said...

Everytime I read helpful information on this site, I am so very grateful. It is not only a great souce of knowledge, but also support, as I read the comments from others and take comfort in knowing that we are not alone on this journey with my beautiful mother.


over 3 years ago, said...

I've seen 3 or the 4 examples you've mentioned with my mother with dementia. It is helpful to know what and/or why this is happening and what it means to better help her and understand her. Thank you, Ellen Irish


over 3 years ago, said...

YES, My Darling's "talking" is getting so bad at times there doesn't seem to be a pattern to it describe here. BUT, then, just a short time later she may think and speak quite clearly. Sure is difficult to keep up with her. Her memory is the same way - on again, off again! No consistency, it seems. I thought sure she was just playing games with me - trying to be shrewd - but I have forgiven myself for even thinking that by this time. I think the most difficult part for me is getting her to listen and accept what I say to her - all too often. Like she actually tunes me out ! ! ! This is my first time to experiencve dementia in anyone - knowingly, at least. Beein going on for a couple of years now, will soon be moving nearer to our daughter for her to help in her mom's care. Just too much for me to handle and keep up with life at the same time. Hugh


over 3 years ago, said...

Makes sense of what I'm experiencing with my mom. She also communicates physically sometimes...drawn up legs="I wet my pants" and smacking of lips = "I want a drink"


almost 4 years ago, said...

My husband has severe dementia and he does not speak more than a couple of words - mostly "yes" or "no". Carlos just stares with a blank expression in his face, his eyes half-shut and sometimes, just sometimes moves his hands as if trying to say something, then gives up. It is very sad.


almost 4 years ago, said...

THANKS FOR THE INFO. FORTUNATELY MY WIFE HAS NOT EXPRESSED ANY OF THE ABOVE, GEEZER82


almost 4 years ago, said...

yes, as time progresses i findd myself getting better at understanding my wife's needs. music or singing a phrase seems to improve communication.


almost 4 years ago, said...

As a new social worker (I returned to finish my degree at 42) In a skilled nursing facility your site has helped understand a lot of what I didn't regarding dementia and Alzheimer's I have a great resent very alert , I wil ask her things and She says one or two words answers fantastically biut will start with gibberish if she talks in a sentence. I have been spending a lot of one on one time with her because she is in a merry walker and seeks me out most afternoons. Every day I learn something new


over 4 years ago, said...

Your tips are helping me to understand what is happening to my aunt. I read the book "The 36 Hour Day," which gave me most of the insight. I appreciate your information.


over 4 years ago, said...

When will i know when my mother in law is at the severe stage and what shall I expect and prepare for? She is walking a bit shakey at times talks little but seems to know us all still can`t wash,dress herself.


over 4 years ago, said...

Helpful understanding my Mom's speech patterns.


over 4 years ago, said...

The first statement was informative and gave an explanation. The other statements were just examples with no explanations.


over 4 years ago, said...

We are living most of it with my mother-in-law. Thanks for the help"¦ Every day gets more difficult.


almost 5 years ago, said...

Hi Jadesgammie, great question! You can look up facts and articles on Strokes and Alzheimers by going to www.caring.com/stroke and www.caring.com/alzheimers. If you're still curious about your issue, you can post a question in our Ask & Answer section, here ( http://www.caring.com/ask ). I hope that helps!


almost 5 years ago, said...

My mother did not have Alzheimer's but had a stroke and all she could speak was gibberish. My husband has Alzheimer's so how would I know if he is having a stroke or just the progression of Alzheimer's?


almost 5 years ago, said...

Thank you so very much for your support. This information answers a lot of questions and relieves my mind tremendously.


almost 5 years ago, said...

My Mom has loved music always... She met her first great grandchild last Saturday. I always tell her what we are going to do when I pick her up, and after I told her she was going to meet her first reat grandchild she sat for a while and started humming. When we got to the house and my son and daughter -in - law were there to greet us with the baby, she lit up and was so happy. as I helped her hold her first great- grand child, she started to hum again. I finally realized she was hummin "I'm in the mood for love".. WOW! powerful statement for music in the lives of these folks who cannot seem to communicate in any other way!


almost 5 years ago, said...

It is so depressing to see the pain in there eyes when they cannot tell you anything


almost 5 years ago, said...

This website has been so helpful to me in understanding dementia/alzheimers. It is comforting to know there are others who have been through this and let other "newbees" what to expect. Thanks to all!


almost 5 years ago, said...

This website has been very helpful. I had no idea that some of the things my husband was saying or doing were typical of others with Dementia or Alzheimers. It's comforting to know there are others there to help


almost 5 years ago, said...

Hi Jan Jedlinsk­y, Thank you very much for question. If you'd like, you can post it in our Ask & Answer section, here ( http://www.caring.com/ask ). I hope that helps. Take care -- Emily | Community Manager


almost 5 years ago, said...

My aunt had this disease before passing and she spoke gibberish. I had asked many people if this had something to do with the alzheimers --- this is the first time the connection has been confirmed. Did the gibberish have meaning to my aunt? or what she just making up words to try and be part of the conversation? She always had inflection and body language like she was trying to communicate?


about 5 years ago, said...

All the differant types of communication


about 5 years ago, said...

there are plenty of places to find out about physical and behavioral changes over the progress of Alzheimer's. Ideas and ways of dealing with these changes would be helpful- things that the caregiver can do, things the caregiver should do and for those whose loved ones are being given care by others- how to manage that process, how best to manage, or not manage, a caregiver, at home or in a care facility.