Is word repetition normal?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 24, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

Is it normal for a person with Alzheimer's to repeat the same two words over and over and not realize that they are?

Expert Answers

Joanne Koenig Coste is a nationally recognized expert on Alzheimer's care and an outspoken advocate for patient and family care. She is the author of Learning to Speak Alzheimer's. Also, she currently is in private practice as an Alzheimer's family therapist. Ms. Koenig Coste also serves as President of Alzheimer Consulting Associates, implementing state-of-the-art Alzheimer care throughout the United States.

The repetition of words is not unusual for a person with Alzheimer's disease (AD) or one of the related dementia. The gradual loss of language is variable and more profound in some dementia and earlier in the process for others. The words your memory-impaired (m-i)person chooses to repeat may have nothing to do with what he/she is thinking or feeling. It could be as simple as sounding familiar to the person and a need or desire for familiarity is a hallmark of AD. My husband used to repeat the words "ferbil" and "kerbish"; none of us in his immediate family recognized the words as having any pertinence to our life now or in past years and soon realized that he simply liked the sound of those syllables. These two 'words' were, for whatever unknown reason, easy for him to store and to recall. I'll hope the words your m-i person is using are pleasant ones!