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Is this how it starts?
Posted: Monday, July 15, 2019 6:41 AM
Joined: 4/2/2018
Posts: 2231

My wife often has trouble finding the words she wants to say. But most of the time this is not a problem. Yesterday she wanted me to pick up some sandwiches she likes from a local restaurant. She couldn't tell me the name of the restaurant, the name of the sandwich, or how to get there. But she kept trying, for 5 minutes or longer. That's a long time. Finally she slapped the cushion on the couch, and said "Never mind. I don't want anything to eat." Eventually I figured out what she wanted, bu it wasn't easy.

I've noticed lately that I can be sitting next to her, and if I say something, she'll ask me what I said. After repeating it two or three times, she will at times say she doesn't understand what I am saying. Is she losing the ability to understand words? Is this how it starts? She seems so easy to care for now that it just doesn't seem like she would be losing that ability. I don't know what to think. 

Posted: Monday, July 15, 2019 6:55 AM
Joined: 4/2/2018
Posts: 2231

I just realized that I might not have used the proper wording. When I said "Is she losing the ability to understand words?", I do not mean she can't hear the words, but I wonder if she is losing the ability to understand what some words mean.
Posted: Monday, July 15, 2019 7:15 AM
Joined: 6/21/2019
Posts: 518

In my wife's case, I think it was originally she lost vocabulary but still understood what I was saying.

Here's my example.

We took nature walks everyday.

One day, she looked at a tree and said "The thing is starting to turn green."

The tree had buds that were sprouting into leaves.

I pointed and said to her "Do you mean the tree?"

She said "Yes."

I pointed again and said. "The green things are the leaves?"

She said "Yes."

As much as I tried I couldn't get her to remember how to say "The tree's leaves are turning green."

She understood what I was saying, but her brain lost the vocabulary and the ability to re-learn it.



Posted: Monday, July 15, 2019 8:29 AM
Joined: 7/10/2017
Posts: 644

In my experience, they can still understand what you're saying long after they lose the ability to get the right words out.

In terms of getting out the right words, I think that as this disease progresses, their brain is more disconnected from their speech ability.  What they want to say is not what comes out of their mouth.  I can understand your wife's frustration when asking for a sandwich.  She knows what she wants, she just can't get her mouth to say it.

In terms of understanding what others say, I've heard PWD say that sometimes they need a de-scrambler, that they hear the words, but somehow they don't make sense. I think this is more of a "sometimes thing." 

For my wife, in stage 7, she will mostly understand what I'm saying, but sometimes not.  And she will mostly not be able to tell me what she's thinking, but sometimees she can in one way or another -- a few words, a gesture, a grimace...  I've become very good at asking questions that she can answer with a nod or a shake of the head.

Next time she wants something to eat and is struggling, it might help to give her some choices she can react to. She may have a hard time expressing herself, but she's still in there and can probably understand your words.


Posted: Monday, July 15, 2019 9:00 AM
Joined: 12/4/2011
Posts: 17825

It may help when sitting next to her that you make certain that you have her attention...a touch on the arm).....make certain she is looking at you, speak slowly and simple sentences. It was explained to me that the sound gets in but it junps around in the brain before being comprehended.
Posted: Monday, July 15, 2019 9:02 AM
Joined: 1/3/2018
Posts: 2

Perfect real life explanation. The speech disconnect is often misunderstood. I explain it's like your smartphone trying to insert a word or complete a phrase but just cannot get it right. I was taken by surprise at how quickly the speech disconnect took hold. Strangely my LO talks in coherent phrases at night during periods when she is not asleep but still in bed. She is not a night walker. The kicker is when my LO makes coherent phrases like " I'm not who I was" and at dinner time for example saying " I wish I could do something" as she makes her sway araound the prep area when I'm making dinner and she makes motions like wiping the counter. I am convinced that not all memory is lost like a certain persons emails but rather the brain has a virus that is blocking access. Good luck to you. 

Posted: Monday, July 15, 2019 9:08 AM
Joined: 3/1/2017
Posts: 97

My DH has AD (EO) with LVPPA (Logopenic variant primary progressive aphasia). He cannot find words to say, understand words, read or write. It started as single word misses when speaking, then not understanding other people speaking, and now has progressed to most words being impossible to say or understand.
Posted: Monday, July 15, 2019 11:01 AM
Joined: 4/2/2018
Posts: 2231

Thanks very much for the replies. It has always seemed like she had no problem understanding what I was saying, even though she couldn't find the words herself. This is something new, and I just didn't know what to make of it. I appreciate your input.
Keep It 100
Posted: Monday, July 15, 2019 2:13 PM
Joined: 2/26/2017
Posts: 512

Ed1937 wrote:

 Finally she slapped the cushion on the couch, and said "Never mind. I don't want anything to eat." Eventually I figured out what she wanted, bu it wasn't easy.


I can relate to that. In absolute frustration, my very calm and sweet husband will sometimes slam his hand down next to him on the couch, or even sometimes hit himself. I can usually figure out what he is trying to convey to me and keep him from getting frustrated, however recently, nouns have pretty much gone by the wayside, and figuring out the meaning of a sentence or question without a single noun can be challenging. 

Greater confusion, frequent delusion...those are more consistently setting in. But that's another issue to unpack....

Posted: Monday, July 15, 2019 8:15 PM
Joined: 6/12/2018
Posts: 17

My husband will also slap his forehead or whatever is next to him in frustration when he loses his train of thought or his words.  I try to give him space to "think it out" but more often than not I find that I need to finish his sentences.  He will say "thank you" or "exactly" to validate my comment but even at that, he had already forgotten what we  (or he) was talking about.

 We've been married for nearly 40 years so I can read his thoughts (he used to be able to read my thoughts as well).  We are still very much connected emotionally and intellectually but the gap is becoming greater all the time.

He does not seem to have any difficulty with understanding what I am saying in the moment but he immediately forgets our conversation.  His short term memory is gone.