What could be causing my mother to talk out loud to herself?

16 answers | Last updated: Oct 03, 2016
Glorythreads asked...

My mother (89) talks out loud constantly. She is not addressing anyone, but verbalizing her thoughts and feelings. She denies that she is speaking. She has hearing aides, but that does not seem to change the verbalization. She does not do this when someone is physically in a room with her. Why does this happen, but she denies it is? She takes medications for thyroid, afib, poor circulation in her limbs, uses hearing aides, and has had cataract surgery. The verbalizations occurred prior to any use of medication.


Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

Many people, young and old, talk to themselves when they going through their day. Perhaps she has talked to herself her whole life, so this may not be a new habit for her. You may have never noticed this about her, as she may have mumbled to herself when she was younger, and this is not as noticeable. Now, she is probably talking loudly since she cannot hear herself talking as well. She may not even realize how loud she is talking due to her hearing problems, especially if they are severe. I wouldn't worry too much about this behavior, unless she starts to talk to people that are not there (delusion). Hope this helps!


Community Answers

Cwjiggs answered...

This question makes me laugh, because I have talked to myself most of my life and have always worried about it. It's especially bad when someone catches you! haha. At work I kept track of finances for people and always added out loud, which people found unusual. But it helps me get things straight. I even talk out loud when I'm having a large dinner for people and when I work it out step by step, I can organize myself better. Believe me, I've always wondered if I was crazy.


Donoharm answered...

Years back, H left for work, the kids left for school and only the dog was left at home with me. Believe it, that dog learned English well. She'd be taking a nap and I'd say something like, going upstairs to get the laundry and she'd scoot up the stairs while I'm still at the sink. Or, look, the mailman's coming and she'd be at the door even before I left the kitchen. I think it's like cwjiggs honestly posted, habit. Now I talk to the commentators on TV and if they ever invent a feedback to some of these channels, sign me on. I'm guessing tho, if it's just mumbling or incoherent talking, that may be a problem. I don't wish to make light of it, sorry.


A fellow caregiver answered...

I am 72 years old and I talk to myself and have always done so. My children questioned this habit when they were younger and my rsponse was that it was the only way I knew I would have an intelligent conversation.

It is probably nothing more than organizing thoughts or thinking through a situation to find a resolution. It is quite different from talking to people who do not exist.


Jorie13 answered...

Joyce Meyer mentioned on her TV show recently that people remember/pay attention to what THEY have said aloud better than what others say to them. That's why self talk needs to be positive. I like to talk to myself/pet aloud. When I hear something negative, I can check MY attitude and get back to positive/uplifting thoughts. Hope all the above helps you relax.


Bonniecanby answered...

ALL OF YOU HAVE JUST MADE MY DAY. I HAVE TALKED TO MLYSELF WHENEVER MULTITASKING ALL OF MY LIFE. NOW AT 70 THEY SEEM TO THINK THAAT I'M LOOSING MY MIND. I ALSO TALK TO THE DOGS ALL THE TIME. I'M NOW ALONE. IT SEENS TIO HEDLP THE GRIEF.

SECOND EDIT--I AFLSO SING SONGS TO MYSELF AND WHEN WORKING JTALK MYSELF THROUGH THE STEPS. I WAS BORN WITH A SLIGHT LEARNIONG DISABLITY THAT WASN'T DISCOVERED UNTILL I WAS IN MY 30's. I ALSO WEAR HEARING AIDS. WHEN I PLAY ORGAN I SING IT TO MYSELF TO BE ABLE TO GET THE CORRECT EXPRESION. I DON'T THINK THAAT ITS PART OF GROWING OLD. SOME OF US HAVE DONE IT ALL OUR LIFE AS A WAY OF COPING WITH PROBLEMS.


Annevincent answered...

My mom has Alheimer's and for about two years talks constantly to herself...........or hums all the time.....regardless of whether anyone is in the room or not. She also has no clue that she is doing this. Most everyone just accept it and realize that it is what it is, but every once in a while, a stranger will hear her and they are quite "taken back" by it. We were in a restaurant waiting to order one day (Captain D's) and she was humming loudly and the cashier very rudely said to the customer that she was waiting on that she could not hear them and cut her eyes over at my mom. Needless to say, she and I had a little chat after everyone had cleared the counter. I didn't want to embarass her, but I did want to make her aware that she needs to think before forming an opinion of what is transpiring. Anyway...it is a way of life in our household. And for those of you who know my postings, you will know that I will say...it is what it is....and in the scheme of things, it does not matter whether your loved one admits that they are talking to themselves.....they are very likely not even aware of it! Good luck to you all.....it is very nice to know that there are others that I can talk to who can relate to my situation. Oh yeah, my mom is 78 and does not wear hearing aids.....her Alzheimer's is pretty severe.


Donoharm answered...

It's like this. President Obama said dialogue/discourse will bring peace. That's why we're prone to talking, whether it's to ourselves (the need to talk to an intelligent person), the dog, the TV. It's good for the lungs, too! And the other day I read a study where "people who hum are more likely positive in their outlook and use outward expression." Good for all of us. I'm of the mind that, if it feels good, makes you feel good (and within the law), do it.


Bobbi henderson answered...

I love all your posts. I have always talked to myself when I am alone or planning something (it is just thinking out loud) and I like to do that...I just assumed that everyone did that at some time or another.

Bonniecanby...I love to sing while I work and sometimes create my poems this way....makes the words flow more easily. When I was a child I remember that my mother always hummed or sang while she worked or was doing something she enjoyed. I agree with you that it could be way of coping too. I think we sometimes talk to ourselves when we have had our feelings hurt...it is a way of rationalizing or planning a response...and we say to ourselves what we would probably not say to the individual. lol


A fellow caregiver answered...

My mother is 91 and has been diagnosed with moderate alzheimers. She is on Aracept and Namenda. She will wisper "I wish I were dead" with people close by. When you question her, it's as if she did not say it, or even think it. My mom is not that good of an actress, so I think she is being sincere when she says, no, I didn't say a thing. We just try to comfort her and accept it, but I put this in the category of some deep feelings coming out involuntarily. Other than that, she is pleasant, but has lost most of her passion.


A fellow caregiver answered...

My 83 year old mumbles hurtful things and calls me names as if I am not in the room. Is this what she really thinks she dosen't know she is doing it then smiles at me and continues on in a lovely conversation! It is driving me nuts


Abarton7699 answered...

My wife and I moved into her fathers house to help him with day to day activities because he is disabled. He is 60. We noticed that when he is in another room byhimself he will Talk to people that are not there.. hes not planing or thinking out loud.. we asked him one day who is he talking to and he said no one.. well we took the laptop one day and recorded the whole day while my wife and i was gone and got him on camera talking and answering questions to thin air.. what should we do????


Dk2852 answered...

My aunt is in her late 60's and does this. I came to this site hoping to find an answer. She will be in her room by herself and I can hear her all the way upstairs. She also has a learning disability, and is extremely hard of hearing. I notice a trend that people who are hard of hearing seem to have this problem( on this site at least). I guess its normal, but it still bothers me sometimes. I hope she is not losing her mind, she's not all there as it is.


Lindainga14 answered...

My 89 year old mother has Alzheimer's, she talks to people who are not there all day and night for a few days and then she will sleep for 2 days straight except I wake her to feed her. She eats with her eyes closed then goes right back to sleep. When she finally wakes up, she starts the same thing over and over. She says she sees people and they talk to her as well. I know she thinks that she hears them by what she says like, "what did you say?". I have a monitor in the room where I can watch her and I can also hear her for her safety. She is bedridden and is in the final stages of the disease. Her Dr has tried a few psychotic medicines, but they do not help at all when she is in the up stage. It is really strange to watch... I once knew a guy who was schizophrenic that talked like this all of the time.


Lilith harstine answered...

Its normal for people to talk to themselves. Im 16 and i talk to my self. I dont give two craps less if someone is with me or not. My grandmother gose off on me because of it but talking to myself really helps me with school, choors, or just trying to get my facts strate. I am so sick and tyerd of people getting called "crazy" because they have to remember something by saying it outloud. We self talkers are not crazy. We are the smarter ones in the group. Thanks for readding.


A fellow caregiver answered...

My new (but I've Known her for years ) roommate talks ,hums ,yells all the time when she is alone .She claps at tv,talks to every show .and loud. My neighbor can hear her in his own house when she is in her room. I will tell her to keep it down or shut up but it doesn't matter. She never stuttered before but she does it when she talks to a real person never to herself. Not bad but you have to wait to hear what she is saying..She did talk to tv sometimes before but this is constant. I think she popped her cork when her husband left her .This isn't just trying to figure out how to put something together .This is talking like they are in room with her . It is driving me crazy but not enough to talk to myself just to write it now. I think most of the people who I read above are normal the older ones are just in that stage of their illness. This is not normal.