Have you ever wondered how a person with dementia uses inappropriate words in place of the proper words or they’ve never been one to curse and now they do it all the time? They also use words that don’t make sense in their sentences; sometimes it’s just garbled words altogether.
It’s not unusual for this to happen because of the way their brain is losing certain capabilities.
As Teepa Snow explains, it all has to do with right brain left brain functions.
She refers to the right side as Right Rhythm Retained and on the left side it’s Left Language Lost.
Right Rhythm Retained is where the bad words and racial slurs are stored. It’s also where music memory is stored.
Left Language Lost is losing language skills and correct words to put their thoughts into proper sentences.
As a caregiver we have to be patient in more ways than one. Learning to speak slowly so your loved one can process what you’ve just said and then being patient as they are trying to figure out how to respond. It’s not easy to sit still while they are struggling to find the words they want to relay. I was guilty of trying to “help” my mother with her words. But all that did was make her feel inadequate and resulted in her either being agitated or feeling sad. I quickly learned to just let her do the best she could and go with it.
In the beginning stages of her dementia she was very aware of not being able to communicate. Her words would come out garbled and sometimes there were just words that she made up. That was the Left Language Lost starting to take place.
Later on as her dementia progressed I noticed very quickly the Right Rhythm Retained stage was taking over. She pretty much said whatever came to mind and it wasn’t always so pleasant or kind.
Again, I had to learn how to handle those situations and not get embarrassed because she just offended someone. You can be assured that your loved one will, at some point, become offensive to others. Just remember, they aren’t intentionally being that way; it’s the dementia.
Redirecting is always a good tool to use when your loved one is being contrary, rude or just downright hateful. Just as you would redirect a small child who is upset, you would do the same thing with a person with dementia. I’m not saying it works a hundred percent of the time, but it does help.
Keep your cool during these challenging moments. If you find you’re getting agitated or impatient, walk away for a few minutes and compose yourself. Don’t let your verbal skills drop to their level by saying something inappropriate! You know the difference, they don’t.