created at: 2011-08-02For most of us, conversational speech is some version of an equal exchange. I say something, you respond, then I respond, and so forth, and information is transmitted from one person to another. Even if one person dominates or the other person isn’t a good listener, the conversation falls within a semblance of mutual exchange.

Communicating with someone with dementia doesn’t always follow that pattern. The most typical pattern is that the person with dementia repeats the same story or sentence over and over, and the listener works to respond as if they are hearing it for the first time.

In its later stages, my mother’s Alzheimer’s disease affected her speech even further, as she suffered from a non-fluent aphasia, meaning that although she had a lot to say, the sentences didn’t make sense, and they often trailed off into nonsense rhymes like “the turtles, the trips, the turtles, the trips.”

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