My Dad repeats phrases over and over, and mutters under his breath the same phrases.

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He seems to have only a small inkling that he is doing this, and at times says inappropriately mean things aloud which can be hurtful to those trying to help him. Where we might think something that we wouldn't comment on, he's just coming straight out with it. The constant repetition of phrases, and non-stop 'inner' chatter seems to be getting worse. I had a psychiatrist visit him and they are trying him on a different anti-depressant tablet, but it hasn't made any difference. The psych said that it may be part of the aging brain scenario, where like a scratched record that jumps each time it passes the scratch, the brain has a small fault which is doing similar. He does ok on the mini mental tests they do; scored 30/30 on the last one, but the problem seems almost like a dementia thing. Does anyone else out there have similar challenges? I know there is probably nothing I can do to help him if it's aging damage to the brain, but if anyone has any ideas or thoughts about it, I'd be interested. The constant chatter drives my Mother crazy (she is in rest home care with him, and has Alzheimer disease but is holding on not too badly at present, but Dad's chatter is something she gets angry about at times, and I wonder if it might cause her to lash out eventually). Neither of them wants separate rooms, so I guess it's a wait and see situation. If he could control the chatter it would improve the situation. He suffers deep depression and hates being in rest home care, so everything he says is negative....absolutely everything. I find it very draining, because it's like he doesn't see the good things I try to do, and I find myself getting very frustrated and depressed myself. I try not to think selfishly, but sometimes I snap momentarily and grumpily ask him to stop the talking, which he does for a while but then it starts up again. It can be so confusing, cause I dont' know if he's talking to me or just to himself at times. He's 93 and I try to always remember that maybe this is just 'par for the course', and I do try to be compassionate with them both, but it really wears my strength down at times. :(


Is the psychiatrist you consulted a geriatric psychiatrist? That can make a big difference . Some of the meds take a while before they make a difference.
Yes, she was a geriatric psychiatrist and seemed very sympathetic to his condition. He was put on anti-depressant medication by a different Psychiatrist in 2009, and because I was concerned there has been no notable change in mood I approached the Psychiatrist again in November 2012 for a reassessment. I had been to his GP several times prior to that and the GP had tried altering the dosages of what he had been on, both up the scale and down, but it made no difference. The latest reassessment in Nov 2012 she decided to reduce one of the anti-depressants (Citalopram) he was on (he was on two types - Citalopram and Quetiapine) and introduced a new one, Mirtazapine. He will have been on the new meds since about December 2012 I think. I just don't think I'm seeing any improvement, although initially I thought I did. He just seems as depressed as before, and very paranoid. I suspect there's not a lot more that can be tried, but I keep searching for ideas. I did try to get him to try counselling, but he refuses. He's from an era where counseling was not something people did. You dealt with your problems yourself. I am the closest thing to a counsellor he has, but it does wear on me, because he wont try any of my ideas to imrpove his situation. It just feels like a vicious circle all the time. However, it's the repetitive talking to himself that I fear will cause issues for him, as other folk wont be as tolerant as I can be (give or take an odd weak moment), and I do worry that as my Mother loses patience and the ability to recognize that my Dad is very frail, that she might lash out at him. I guess it's really very much a wait and see situation. Thanks for your response.
Okay, I wondered if he was experiencing some paranoia with all the negativity. You say he is very paranoid - are they treating the paranoia? A lot of anxiety can really get paranoia spun up, sometimes relieving anxiety will relieve the paranoia. We have seen good results with Librium, an old drug and a preference to try before anti-psychotics. I am not a doctor, just speaking from our experience with paranoia and anxiety that brought on the negative muttering.
I spoke at length with the Psychiatrist about my observations, including his anxiety and paranoia, which seems to be the constant underflow of his spirit right now, so I guess I am putting my trust in the Psychiatrist to prescribe a drug that will take that into account. I wanted to give the new drug a fair try before I contact the Psychiatrist again, and it's been about 6 months so far. I just really don't know what to do, other than what I've been doing. I gave the Psychiatrist a very detailed and in depth description and she also interviewed him, which didn't go so well as he was very anxious and didn't want to discuss how he felt and I think he resented her being there which was sad, because all I want is to try and help him and bring back some sense of peace to his mind. He keeps telling me it will never be peaceful while he is in "that place" (rest home). He hates it with every inch of his soul. :(
I am so sorry. Sometimes the impaired brain has such a hard time moving past thoughts. They think "I am unhappy" and have lost the ability to move their brain past that point. I think I would push a bit for something to take down his anxiety- it's a horrible stress on the brain and body.
Thanks again! He was on a dose of lorazpam once a day at one point for his anxiety, but it really didn't seem to work for him, and his anxiety state is continual anyway, not just at one point of the day, so they took him off that one. The problem with any of these drugs is that they have the side effect of sleepiness...which of course is part of reducing the anxiety I guess...but too much of that and at 93 he becomes vulnerable to falls, so it's really important to get the right dosage that is a balance between helping and hindering. He doesn't like being sleepy because he feels he must watch out for my Mother wandering off, so he's not really relaxing properly. The only time he seems to relax is when I bring them both to my house, and I'm watching Mum, then he gets to have a long snooze (so I've noted at least).
My 90 year old father in law constantly repeats the same things and makes weird grunting sounds under his breath. It can drive you crazy. When my husband tells him to stop he does for a second but then just starts up again. He only stops when you are speaking to him. It's very annoying and we get impatient with him at times but he is 90 so we just decided to let him go on and try to ignore it. Not sure what causes it - I guess it's just brain deterioration. Hope you can learn to cope with it and not be so stressed out.
This is a common feature of dementia in some (but not all) people with the disease. I've seen it in many of the other nursing home residents during my parents' stays. They honestly don't realize they're doing it - it's almost a subconscious / involuntary thing.

In one case, there was an elderly woman who spent most of her days sitting in her wheelchair near the nurse's station. She would mutter little snatches of phrases, and they were the oddest things: "Sail me over to my queen...sail me over to my queen...sail me over to my's a fair life!'s a fair life!'s a fair life!....Mom!....Mom!...Mom!...Help me!....Help Me!...Help Me!...." - she said the same things repeatedly, always in groups of 3, and said them all day long.

Just yesterday, I went to see Mom at the NH and took her for a walk around the building, ending up in the activity room, where there were several other residents watching TV, getting manicures and just passing the time. One of them was rocking forwards and backwards in her wheelchair and muttering constantly - nothing intelligible, but you could tell by the change of tone in her voice, that in her mind, she was carrying on a conversation with someone. I chuckled inwardly when I noticed one of the other residents - a woman - glance over at the "mutterer" with an annoyed look on her face. It must be hard for the other residents to deal with when they have to be around someone that does that on a consistent basis.

To be honest, there really isn't much to do about it. Some medications may lessen the occurrence of the verbalizations, but it's a symptom of dementia and may never completely stop, even with medication - and medications always come with their own set of issues - side effects, interactions with other meds, etc.
Thank you for the support. He started doing it after my mother in law passed away. At first we thought is was just grief and lonliness but now it's over 5 years and he seems to be getting worse. He calls her name constantly and says Mary, Mary I'm coming over and over. When you speak with him he can carry on a conversation so it's not all bad. It bothers my husband more than it bothers me. I think he's a bit embarrassed but I figure he's 90 and he can do whatever makes him feel better.
Hi bubblegirl. As you probably read above, I went through the same issue with my Father. It was sad and frustrating at times as he was such an engaging and cheerful man prior to his being in care, but at the end of the day, and despite what was happening to his brain, I still managed to see that he was still there, and as with your Father-in-Law, my Father could still hold a very intelligible conversation when engaged. It was just the self-chatter that we could not get use to. You try to ignore it, but at times it still invades your head space and at those times, it's best to take a break away from it otherwise your patience may wear thin. I sadly lost both my Father and Mother in 2014, only 5 months apart, so now, with the value of hindsight, and the sad sense of loss I feel, I'm sure that I did the best I could in the situation I had with the knowledge I had then. You firstly look for physical issues, then any mental issues and engage professional help if you believe it may help. You can't separate his health issues from who he is and the life that he has lived however - at some point they all overlap, if you can understand me. I discovered that my parents aging was a very holistic situation - a sum total if you like, of everything they'd experienced in their life, along with their present health status. It's never a 'one size fits all' diagnosis in my opinion, so remain open-minded to various ideas. What works for one person, may not work for the other, and what works one time, may not work another!...and so, it can be very tiring and wearing at times, as you make observations and 'tweek' your way of doing things to the present experience, but being flexible and open minded on the course that his aging takes will help lessen the stress levels. Looking back, I console myself with knowing I did my best always, and for the moments when I could not see past the frustration, I have forgiven myself now, and was lucky that I got to express my apology for the same frustrations that may have caused me to seem grumpy or short, to my Dad before he died. His reply to me was, "It's me that should be sorry." I never expected that, and it spoke volumes to me about how much more he was understanding, than I thought he was. So, my advice; do what you must to keep him safe and well, but always remember the person that is still living inside his skin, and be considerate of this. Once you lose them, it's how you made them feel while they are alive that will matter most in your head. Good luck with your caring, and don't forget to take breaks when you are able.

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