Is constant humming or singing common with Alzheimer's?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother has developed the habit of either humming or singing constantly, even during meal times. This is a new behavior that is a little annoying but I'm not complaining, just curious. She has Alzheimer's/dementia as per her doctor. I'm not clear if this is related but assume it is. Thank you.

Expert Answer

Helene Bergman, LMSW, is a certified geriatric care manager (C-ASWCM) and owner of Elder Care Alternatives, a professional geriatric care management business in New York City. She consults with nursing homes and daycare programs to develop specialized programs for Alzheimer's patients.

Constant humming and singing with Alzheimer's is considered to be a method of communication. It is very common and seems to provide comfort to the individual. It often reflects emotion (for instance, anxiety) or an internal mood and serves as an alternative means for one who has lost the 'gift of gab'. Sometimes it can create a 'disturbance' in public places like a doctor's office, a movie, theater or a restaurant. If this is a regular behavior for your mom, you may need to plan your outings where she can hum or sing without losing her dignity. Always try to remember she is trying to say something and attempt to respond in kind.