Non-Stop Talking in Dementia – How to Manage Garrulity

Excessive speech, also known as garrulity, is associated with dementia or cognitive impairmentIt is often associated with an older person repeatedly asking questions or talking about the same event or story over and over again.

Non Stop Talking in Dementia

These speeches can be tedious for caregivers and family members to endure. But they may be an inevitable mode of communication that manifests with dementia.

Non-stop talking can also be a coping mechanism for a dementia patient who is slowly losing their memory.

In this article, we discuss the types of dementia, and how garrulity and vocal repetition can manifest as a symptom of dementia.

We also discuss ways for the patient and their caregiver and family to address and care for this common symptom.

Five Common Types of Dementia

1. Alzheimer‘s Disease

Alzheimer‘s disease (AD) is the most common type of dementia and may contribute to 60 to 70% of all dementia cases.

Alzheimer’s symptoms consist of cognitive and psychological changes, which include memory loss, difficulty communicating, 

Early symptoms of AD in an older adult include depression, hoarding, forgetting names, inability to recall recent events, why they entered a particular room, or what they were supposed to do with a familiar object.

The brain cells of an Alzheimer‘s patient begin to die as the chemical functions of the brain tend to change. This is why seniors get confusion and immediate mood shifts.

They may experience communication challenges like difficulty in speaking, choosing the correct words to convey their thoughts, and garrulity or vocal repetition. A patient with Alzheimer‘s disease could also develop physical impairments like forgetting how to walk properly.

In late stage dementia, brain damage may lead an Alzheimer’s patient to have more significant memory problems and loss of mental function than before, difficulty eating or swallowing, challenges walking, and may require full-time personal care or hospice care.


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2. Vascular Dementia

Vascular dementia is another common type of dementia. It is caused by insufficient blood flow to the brain.

Seniors with severe heart disease are at high risk for vascular dementia. The risk factor for getting vascular dementia is higher in old age and after a stroke.

Vascular dementia symptoms may appear suddenly or slowly, depending on its cause. An early sign of this type of dementia is confusion. The senior adult may often look perplexed as you talk to him/her about regular, daily tasks and events.

During moderate to severe stages of dementia, the patient may experience trouble accomplishing a task. Similarly, seniors may find it difficult toconcentrate for a long time as cognitive decline starts getting a hold on them.

Vascular dementia can also cause vision impairment, as well as hallucinations with advanced dementia.

confused dementia patient

3. Lewy Body Dementia

Lewy body dementia or dementia with Lewy bodies is a result of protein deposits in nerve cells. This causes an interruption in brain function and results in memory loss and disorientation.

Lewy body dementia patients also experience vision impairment, and many of them report difficulty in falling getting enough sleep at night. Some seniors with Lewy body dementia also say that they frequently fall asleep during the day.

This type of dementia shares a lot of manifestations of Alzheimer‘s and Parkinson’s diseases. Fainting, wandering off, and getting lost is common among patients suffering from Lewy Body dementia.

They also suffer from shivering or shaky hands, have trouble walking, and feel weakness in the limbs.


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4. Parkinson’s Disease

Problems with reasoning ability and poor judgment are major indicators of early Parkinsons Disease.

A senior with this type of dementia suffers from cognitive decline and has difficulty understanding visual information and comprehending doing simple tasks of daily life. Another rather distressing symptom is that they may face confusing and frightening hallucinations.

Advanced PD can cause seniors to be very irritable and depressed. The patient may suffer from paranoia as they progress to advanced dementia.

The dementia patient shows communication challenges; they may often leave sentences unfinished, forget a word in the middle of talking, and even show signs of hearing loss, leading to complete a withdrawal.

Senior with Parkinsons disease

5. Frontotemporal Dementia

Frontotemporal dementia is caused by a family of brain diseases known as frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). It is estimated to account for up to 10 percent of all cases of dementia.

Frontotemporal dementia is usually more common in younger people when compared with the other types of dementia. According to statistics, about sixty percent of people with FTLD are between the ages of 45 and 64.

In the early stages of frontotemporal disorders, people may experience only one symptom. But as neurons in more and more parts of the brain become affected, other symptoms may manifest.


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How Does Garrulity Manifest in an Individual with Dementia?

Garrulity, or excessive talking, most often manifests as an early symptom in Alzheimer’s, although it is also seen in other forms of dementia.

Due to the deterioration of brain cells that lead to cognitive decline, a patient with dementia may find that they often forget that they have already asked a question, discussed a topic, or completed a task. This is when repetition of the question or topic occurs, normally with no recollection of previous conversation.

Some common questions or topics of conversation that dementia patients may repeatedly pose can include asking about their doctor’s appointment, whether they have an appointment that day, and when it will be.

It is important in these cases to not confront the patient about their forgetfulness or lapse in memory, but rather to “join their reality” and point of view by politely replying that you have checked and they either do or don’t have an appointment.

Subsequently, it can help to break this cycle of repetition by giving your loved one with dementia a simple and engaging task to do to hold their attention, such as folding laundry or sorting belongings. 

Another way that garrulity can manifest is with the person repeatedly telling a story.

Although repeatedly listening to the same story can become tiring for a caregiver after some time, telling stories can actually help an individual with dementia to provide personal information that can help guide your caregiving process.

When an individual repeats a story, ask them to elaborate more so that, not only will they know that you are interested and engaged, but so that they may share more useful details within their recollections.


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Why Do Dementia Patients Talk Non-Stop?

You, like many family members and caregivers of people with dementia symptoms, often feel drained after listening to the elderly dementia patient talk for hours on end. And sometimes, they do not even make sense of what they say.

If you are wondering why they have become so chatty all of a sudden, there are a couple of explanations that you might want to go over.

The underlying cause for your elderly adult behaving like a compulsive talker is because they see you as the one who is always leading the conversation.

They may have a deep desire to converse with you, and yet they tend to also wish to lead the conversation, as otherwise they may feel incapable or depressed by their state.

This is also one of the reasons why dementia patient often tasks about old stories that they remember; it is because they can have dialogues with other people instead of being the one who is listening to someone all the time.

As the patient goes through advanced dementia, cognitive impairment is inevitable and communication abilities decline.

As the caregiver, you can encourage a dementia patient’s attempts at conversation, as these will help them to maintain relationships and prevent feelings of helplessness or loneliness.


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How Can You Encourage Someone with Severe Dementia to Communicate Better?

When a person with moderate to severe dementia starts showing signs of wanting to talk, you can respond at certain times by asking them to elaborate further. This is a supportive method that lets them know you want to talk with them.

Now, as a family member of a dementia patient, you can also have someone take videos of them reminiscing about old times.

Dementia patients tend to gradually decline in their ability to recall their stories. In the meantime, the videos you captured may provide useful information about them to help improve or guide you in your caregiving.

The best thing you can do is to listen to a loved one’s stories so that you and the whole family get to know the patient better. This is a great way of reestablishing connections.

listening to a dementia patient

Repeating things is also a sign of worsening dementia.

Dementia patients’ brains are incapable of remembering things that have already been saying. If the cognitive decline is a factor, it’s likely that the repetition will only get worse, so mastering empathy and self-control is paramount for dementia caregivers.

Research suggests that verbal repetition is more common among individuals in the earlier stages of dementia and among those with Alzheimer’s disease versus other types of dementia.

Elderly patients with dementia will often repeat a word, statement, question, or activity over and over.

While this type of behavior is usually harmless for the person with dementia, it can become frustrating and stressful to caregivers. Sometimes the behavior is triggered by anxiety, boredom, fear, or environmental factors.


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What Can You Do as a Caregiver of a Garrulous Dementia Patient?

Caring for a loved one who has developed dementia can be emotional challenging for family members and caregivers and requires work on the part of everybody to help manage, but there are certain things you can do to provide reassurance and comfort:

Firstly, you can try distracting the patient with a snack or activity such as busy boards, and other games. Give them their favorite snack to munch on, or play the music that they love. You can even ask them to help with small chores like folding laundry.

The next thing is to avoid reminding them that they just asked the same question.

For instance, if they somehow got it into their head that they had a doctor’s appointment, and keep asking when to go even after you said they don’t need to, you can simply say that the doctor called in a couple of minutes ago to say that they are not expected to visit until next week.

Thirdly, if your elderly loved one with dementia keeps asking about the time to go to an event, don’t discuss plans until immediately prior to an event.

Learn to accept certain behaviors. An agitated state or pulling at clothing, for example, could show a need to use the bathroom.

We understand how trying and difficult it can be to accommodate a dementia patient’s repetitive conversation and questions, but the key is to understand that the reason they are behaving this way is because of a disease and its effects.


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What Treatments Are Available for Dementia?

Currently, most forms of dementia are not curable, but symptoms can certainly be managed with certain medications, therapies, and a multi-faceted dementia care.

Common medications for dementia include cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine.

Cholinesterase inhibitors work by increasing neuronal signaling involved in memory and judgment and is most often used for Alzheimer’s disease, although may also be beneficial for Parkinson’s disease dementia, Lewy body dementia, and vascular dementia.

Memantine helps to regulate the chemical messenger glutamate, which is involved in cognitive functions like learning and memory.


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Non-medical Treatments of Dementia Symptoms

Dementia symptoms and behavioral problems may also be treated with non-medicinal therapies.

Occupational therapy seeks to help individuals with dementia regain independence in various areas of their lives by removing barriers that can affect the individual’s needs.

This can include modifying the home environment to make it a physically safer space, and practicing how to cope with social and emotional needs. Another non-medicinal practice is to simplify tasks so that they’re broken into steps that are easier to succeed at. 

A physician will be able to guide an affected individual with dementia through their treatment options, and this will likely consist of a combination of medication and non-medicinal therapy.

Additional Alzheimer’s treatments are in the pipeline of development, some of which have entered clinical trials.

Potential strategies for treatment include preventing beta-amyloid from clumping into plaques, keeping tau protein from tangling, controlling inflammation in the brain, and other efforts.


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Non-stop Talking and Dementia – Parting Words

If you are a caregiver to a garrulous dementia patient, do not despair. It is just the elderly person trying to express themselves. This is probably the only way they know.

Patience and gentleness will not only help them, it will also help you control your frustration and maintain your piece when talking care of a constantly talking dementia patient.