What causes a person with dementia to talk endlessly for hours?

A fellow caregiver asked...

What causes a person with dementia to talk endlessly for hours and makes him often not able to be comforted?

Expert Answer

A social worker and geriatric consultant who specializes in dementia care, Joyce Simard is based in Land O' Lakes, Florida, and in Prague. She is a well-known speaker and has written two books, one focusing on end-of-life care and the other, entitled The Magic Tape Recorder, explaining aging, memory loss, and how children can be helpers to their elders.

It’s called verbal agitation and perhaps it happens because the person has lost some inhibitions that remind him to stop talking. I also think that sometimes they are saying, “I’m still here†and the endless talking or physical movements are ways they can communicate that. This behavior passes as the dementia eventually affects the ability to speak.  If this behavior bothers him, medication to calm him may help. If it bothers you, but not him I’m afraid you must put up with it. 

If he can eat something or safely suck on a lollypop it might keep him quiet for some period of time. You can also try headphones with music he might enjoy.