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My father is 91 years old. He is still pretty sharp mentally. However, for the last year, we have noticed hIs conversation is changing. For example, when he tells us what he is going to have for lunch he gives us step by step details. He will say, "I am going to go to the refrigerator and get the left-over soup. I will put some in a bowl and add a little salt and pepper. I will put it in the microwave to heat while I get some crackers. I will eat about 2:00 because I had a sweat pastry about 10:00 that I bought at the grocery store last week. I will pour a glass of milk and drink it while I set in the recliner.


He goes through this amount of detail for everything he does. He will describe how he plans to take a shower. " I will go to the bathroom and turn on the water and adjust the temperature while I am taking off my clothes. Then I will get in the shower and get wet. I will turn off the water while I soap up. I will turn the water back on and rinse off. I will dry off with the small brown towel because I will not be wet enough for a large towel."


It is great that dad is still able to do these things, but is this amount of detail a sign of approaching dementia? These are just two examples of the step by step details he gives regarding anything and everything he does. He and mom (age 88) still live in their home. When they are both well, they do a pretty good job of taking care of each other, but they have both had some health issues the last couple of years. Family is nearby. Someone goes by the house or calls them daily.


For several years, he has included a lot of detail when telling us stories about his past. He gives names of every person involved, where they worked, turn by turn instructions of where they lived, etc.


Perhaps he is just exercising his brain, but he does not seem to realize he is giving us this much detail. Any else experienced this?

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Sounds like the Uncle Al effect to me (thank you Blannie!) Whether it is old age or compensating for the first signs of dementia, it does not appear to impair your dad's ability to do activities of daily living. Somebody calls on them daily. I'm sure it would be apparent quickly if decreasing cognitive skills make him unsafe.

I am not sure I should admit this publicly, but I'm among friends, right? I talk to myself, sometimes out loud. (If I happen to be in the bedroom, I address my remarks to a teddy bear who lives there.) My comments have become more detailed. First thing in the morning I may say, "Teddy, I'm going to clean off the kitchen island today. I'll need to set up a folding table. I think it is in the sewing room closet, but if it isn't I'll have to look in the garage and basement. That would slow me down. Then I'll put everything from the island onto the table. There are a lot of things there that don't even belong in the kitchen, so I'll return them to ....blah blah blah." I'm not at quite the detail level your dad is, mjs, but it is approaching that. I don't think I've shared that aloud to anyone but Teddy. I'll have to try to be aware. I think that visualizing and verbalizing something I am going to do is a way of planning. Or maybe I'm going a little stir-crazy by myself so much.

Neither my mother nor my husband talked in greater detail about current activities while they had dementia. My husband seemed to have periods of remembering things from the past in more detail than he'd ever talked about them before. He liked his grade school bus driver. He remembered his name, the names of all the kids who rode on that bus, some particular incidents. It was as if there was a spotlight in his brain on that particular moment of time.
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Sounds like he's telling himself every step to take so as not to forget it...if u think about it it's really clever for an older persons brain to b able to remember all these things they're going to do and what order yo b done in..doesn't sound like my dad when he had dementia but all dementia patients r different..expected my mom to act like my dad did..she is nothing like him!
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Have you ever gently asked about the level of detail? It is unusual, although I had an uncle who would go into all kinds of detail when he'd tell a story. "It happened on a Tuesday, oh no, wait I think it was on a Monday - it was after the Fourth of July, which happened after that big storm on the farm". It would drive me nuts because it was all sorts of meaningless detail to us. My brother and I called it 'the Uncle Al effect'. With my uncle, I think it was more of a function of being alone most of the time and when he was with people, he'd talk and talk and talk. And that was probably how his brain worked. He never had dementia.

I agree that your dad may be having some loss of memory or general cognitive function and his step-by-step plans are a way to keep himself on track. Was he an engineer or scientist in his career? I don't think it's problematic right now, but I'd keep an eye out for other signs of diminishing cognitive function.
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Or does your Mom constantly ask your Dad what he is doing... so he gives a running commentary. Also like he wants to make sure he is doing something right so Mom won't fuss at him :) Just a thought.

Too bad our very elderly parents don't realize that if they sell their house and move into Independent Living they can be around people of their own age. Develop new friendships. When my Dad moved, he was excited about all the new ears to hear his stories :)
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He may be struggling with memory loss, and is aware of it. Perhaps he is giving more details because he is trying to hid it. Keep an eye on him. You may want to have neurologist or geriatric dr test him.
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The first thing I thought is he is just getting older. People's brains do change as they become very old. It isn't really dementia, just the sign of old age.
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