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My 78 year old Mother has dementia and has not talked much this past year. Three days ago, she started making the crackling sounds when she breathes, due to her difficulty swallowing. She has no fever. She is eating. She takes oxygen as needed - as of a day ago. For the past three days, she has been talking - so much more than the past year. This is wonderful and sweet, but I am mystified as to why. She does say random things, but she is also able to respond to questions. It is almost like her brain has been asleep this past year as she talked so little. Anyone else experience this with their loved one?

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That is wonderful that she can talk to you. Sounds like a miracle to me.
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After reading the other comments let me just say this, if your mother is taking prescribed drugs then you need to know that according to the Starfield Study (JAMA 2000), over 100,000 people die every year due to taking drugs as prescribed by their physicians. In fact the study also says that the US medical system is the THIRD leading cause of death after cancer and heart disease killing over 200,000 people per year. Many elderly patients DO NOT tolerate drugs very well and in fact if your mom is taking drugs those drugs could in fact be KILLING your mom or even causing her silence. I would also check and be very wary about hospice because they also give drugs for "pain" even when the patient has no pain and those pain drugs could be causing your mom to have that rattling breathing sound. I don't trust hospice and I hate it when people say that there is nothing we can do or it is out of our control blah blah blah and then continue to let the doctors kill off the patient with drugs. You sound like a very caring person and someone who might want to help your mom get better so that you can enjoy her longer. Please try to see that she isn't being harmed by the medical system. Check her drugs.
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I am so sorry that your mom is on hospice. Is there any way to get her off of that? If she is responding to you, isn't that a signal that she wants to be around life for a while longer? Please see what you can do to get her off of hospice. The last time, 2 months ago, that my mom was in the hospital for a swollen tongue due to the NH doctor prescribing her lisinopril she could not eat for the first few days so the hospital doctors worked on us suggesting that we let her starve to death since she was elderly and could not eat. We pushed back and demanded that a feeding tube be inserted into her tummy however at the same time we made our mother exercise her tongue and lo and behold, when the speech therapist showed up the next day my mom could eat her pureed food again. Please don't give up on your mom if she is showing signs of improvement and if at all possible, check to see what drugs the NH doctors are giving her because those drugs might very well be causing your mom to have side effects that could include memory loss. All the best. Please keep us posted.
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Your Mom is in Hospice.
That means, all the professionals believe her condition has progressed far, and will end in death sooner than later.
You could make sure any meds are not causing her silence or confusion--even in hospice, meds should be considered, when a person is having any neuro issues/behaviors.

Usually, Hospice workers would explain, that while it is common for brain functions to change over time, it is unusual for a person silenced by dementias, to suddenly start talking, even gibberish.
But one cause of this might be "rallying".
When a person "rallies" , that is, when they are really deteriorated, then suddenly kinda come-to and start brightening up, in contrast to how they've been, it could be one signal the person is nearing death--especially if the person rallies, then drops back into their previous state, say, between hours to a few days..

You described rattling in airways that --was it not there before?
It's also an indicator the person is having some trouble clearing fluids from lungs, breathing is impaired? Swallowing is impaired?
If this is new, it may also be an indicator that death is nearing.

Please look at:
Her fingers and toes. Has color of those changed, too? Gotten more discolored, either bluer, or more mottled?
Any ankle/foot swelling gotten worse--changed so that fingers pressed into the swelling leave dents in it, or, more swelling higher up on the leg?
All those kinds of things might be indicators of the body slowing/failing faster now, readying for final transition.
Please ask the Hospice Nurse about these, so they can see if those seem to fit the situation.

At this point, one must consider whether getting the person to take vitamins and coconut oil is really helping, or if it is causing decreased quality of life?
Would Mom want to have anything done to prolong her life in this condition?

When we hospiced my Mom's DH here, he lived 3 months longer than Docs pronounced. He was able to speak and interact with people.
There was improved quality of life, under our roof, over where they had lived.
We also used nutritionals, homeopathics, that imprinted water [writing good words on the glass], and other alternatives.
These did seem to help keep him more comfortable, longer, and seemed to keep his heart condition from worsening as fast.
In the end, though, he was out of what was left of his mind, hallucinating, unable to speak much, and his heart was seriously failing--there was simply nothing anyone could do to bring him back from the edge, as his overall health had deteriorated so far, by the time we got him under our roof.
Near the end, he, too, had a bit of a "rally", then transitioned fast.
His lasting 3 months longer, was a bunch of miracles.
Though, if at any time his quality of life had diminished, I would have suggested to stop trying to get anything but basic things into him for comfort.

You do what you feel is "comfort" for your Mom;
what helps you to feel better about the situation,
while keeping her personal situation above all others--including yours.
This is her path and adventure; nothing any of us can do, can prevent death.
All we can do is be there, be compassionate, talk with them, be their advocate, a kind of midwife to help them through their process.

We might stall it off a bit, but we need to consider if that is appropriate.
Only you and her caregivers can evaluate that.
Meanwhile, enjoy that she started talking some, and touch her--hold hands, hug, stroke her hair.
Tell her you love her, as you have been doing.

These 3 statements, spoken lovingly, to a person facing death [or anywhere else!], make the biggest beneficial impact:
"Thank you for what you taught me"
"I forgive you any errors"
"I love you"
...and blessing them with gentle human touch and reassurances.

Sometimes, our loved ones need permission to let go, too--they hang on, wishing to do things they still wanted to do, things they might miss, fears of what lies ahead, etc.
When my Gma was nearing death, she suddenly doubted all her beliefs held for a lifetime. She'd been doubting and reviewing her life for a long time, feeling guilty about all her errors.
She needed reassured her beliefs still were real, that it was pure love, and given permission to cross over to the light, that all her pain would be gone in an instant. She was not able to get that thru her head at first, but hearing it also from another hospice nurse, she got it, and let go.
It was very hard to deal with, as her death was heavily contributed to by the hospital. She had a very long, full life, done much to help so many others.
We could possibly have fought harder to prevent death, but at what cost to her quality of life, which had already been seriously compromised?
We had to remember her strongly stated wishes when she was more lucid, and not in the tormented moment when she was emotionally chewing over all her life errors and guilts. It was more important to make sure she didn't suffer more than she already had, and to let her go with some shreds of dignity still left.
Had she lived, she'd have been bedridden, on pain meds, unable to enjoy food, unable to enjoy anything--and that could have continued for several more years. We had to be her advocates, as she had been ours when we were young.
We love, and we eventually must simply let go.
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out of the blue she says, "I used to tell my husband I like it rough".....
Laughing my BUTT off!
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With all due respect, ferris1, the last thing I would do or recommend is to enroll a loved one in a research study. To be blunt, the only thing that seems to be researched are drugs, usually with very serious adverse effects. However, it's one thing I don't think we have to worry about. My mom's dementia is much too far advanced for all the studies I've heard about. Natural therapies are definitely safer and hopefully more promising.
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@Richard, Yes, we need to simply enjoy the moments we can talk to our Mothers - though it is no where near a real conversation, at least they are WORDS and she is trying to connect. What a mystery.. but I am reminded that my Mom is still in there in the face of her lack of expressive language and so I can talk to her and her spirit understands. She smiles and squeezes my hand at the right time.....

Blessings..
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@ladee Your story made me laugh out loud. Very funny.

Yes, funny one liners do pop out and cause a burst of laughter!

Precious. No inhibition.
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@Reverseroles - What happy news!!! Made me smile!!!! Enjoy every second - and how brilliant you took her off the meds. Sometimes, I think that the NH mixes up her am/pm pills - give Mom ambien in the morning... Ugh
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I had the same experience. Mom didn't talk for about a year. Now, for months now, she won't stop! But her vocabulary is very limited and she has made up some words of her own to fill the gaps. I wish I could help her improve more and lose less, but I haven't been able to figure out how. It's like a roller coaster.
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Yes, and since the brain is the most fascinating organ but most difficult to understand, no one yet knows everything there is to know. Be sure and tell her doctor and if he is a part of dementia research, she might be asked to enroll as a research subject. Good for you both, and many more conversations!
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After talking gibberish for a year, my charge had company for Christmas... probably 6 women, family and friends.... out of the blue she says, "I used to tell my husband I like it rough"...... after the stunned silence we all broke up laughing.... just never know, it's always an adventure....
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Glad to hear all this good news.
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I am on an iPad and it seems to not let me go scroll up to correct my spelling--- pardon me lol
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My mother has been basically non verbal for two years since her stroke. Because she cannot walk and isn't at that agitated or aggressive stage anymore I asked the dr if I could wen her off one of her medicines. I have been doing it for months and the words are amazing everyone. She sings in bed now most mornings, laughs hysterically, and will answer simple questions such as "hungry mom?" eg andsaid "I love you" as I was giving her a sponge bathing sometimes and pats my back when we hug. I was saying to my us and maybe she had a blot clot in the brain that broke (stroke) and her brain is healing, strange. Its wonderful.she also is much stronger. YeSturdy my husband said good morning to her and she said "pardon me?" I nearly died! Omg she used to say that! Enjoy and keep us updated!
Ps we have music on all the time because she cannt see or understand tv and it makes her feet go sometimes.
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Thanks for the advice. My Mom is on hospice at the NH so I'll see what I can do about the vitamins. Coconut oil rocks. I use it daily.

I do play music on her Bose - and she responds well. Will do so today as I have not done so regularly.

Blessings to each of you!
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Also music is good for the brain. Get her a cheap cd player for $25 at Walmart and a few of her cd music favorites. I have 2 cds of 2 favorite Hawaiian musicians for my mom. that I play for her all day. I also have small dog that she loves to watch and talk to. Lots of stimulus helps with the brain.
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Give her organic coconut oil, ginkgo biloba, Ultimate Vitamin E, all good for the brain. This is a wonderful thing that is happening to her. Let's make it last. All the best to you both. Great news.
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Well, she has reverted to being more quiet again when I see her. She recognizes me still and the words MOM and I LOVE YOU seem to wake her up. It's interesting to see. Her comprehension is out the window. The other day, I said MOM, I LOVE YOU, and she responded: Well, I love you to my knees. I laughed out loud.
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I wish i can get good news like this. my mom is parkinson patient and her response level is 0 from last three months and she is not able to talk and eat properly. i got some hope after reading this. Pls update progress.
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My Mom has become quite sweet and endearing as well. I am interested in knowing why she'd be rather non-verbal for over a year and then all of sudden start talking - sometimes following the conversation, but more so, saying random sentences. I know dementia causes such a ramble - but why she'd be almost mute day in and day out for over a year and then all of sudden be a rather chatterbox.

Oh, the care of our parents is a joy and heartache, isn't it?
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as the dementia traverses the sides of the brain anything can happen. im afraid my mom might try to jump my bones at some point. lol
my mom has become more meek and kind with the progression of dementia. she used to be quite the gossip machine. she even speaks kindly of the daughter that shes battled with for 60 years.
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