WORD SALAD – WHAT IS IT?
Momma’s Alzheimer’s continues to do its nasty stuff to her brain. She has declined quite a bit in the last two months, and it is painful to watch. One of the things I have become more aware of are Momma’s WORD SALAD experiences. Let me explain.
We all know what a tossed salad is. You take lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, cheese, bacon bits (every salad needs a few bacon bits), cauliflower, salad dressing and toss it together well. Then you have a wonderful salad to enjoy. I’m making myself hungry thinking about it!
When your fork enters the salad bowl to retrieve a bite, you don’t know which of the various ingredients will be on your fork when it is removed. It may be just lettuce, or it could be lettuce and any of the other tasty additions to the salad. It would be very difficult to retrieve only bacon bits or only cheese while eating that salad. The entire point of a MIXED salad is to get a variety of tastes with each bite.
When an individual with dementia is in the later stages of their disease, they may experience “word salad”. All the words in their vocabulary are tossed together. They try to retrieve a specific word, but they come up with everything except the word they want. Thinking back to our tossed salad, they may have wanted bacon bits, but they retrieved cucumbers!
Think about how easy it is for you to verbalize your thoughts. Now imagine that every sentence you constructed was missing two or three or four very important words. Just saying, “I want to go to shopping to buy groceries” might come out as “I want to… you know go…because I need…oh I can’t remember, but I need….maybe we can go.” There is much confusion and frustration for the individual, and you, the caregiver, have no clue what they wanted. It is at this point that you must be patient. I will admit it is difficult to be patient, but you have to be. Your loved one is dealing with enough anxiety, and they don’t need your anxiety added to theirs. A good response would be, “I agree. We need to go. As soon as I can work out the details, we will go. Where would you like to go? Grocery shopping, maybe?”
Another idea is to give your loved one a paper and pen to see if they can write any of their words. It might surprise you what they were actually trying to say.
My Momma is fairly good at sentences until about 4:30 in the afternoon. Sundowning strips away her verbal abilities, and sentences are no longer available to her. It is a frustrating experience for her and her family. We are learning to be patient.
Hope that gives you Something To Ponder.
A man in the grocery store notices a woman with a three-year old girl in her cart. As they pass the cookie section, the little girl screams for cookies. The mother says, “Now, Missy, we only have a few more aisles to go. Don’t throw a fit. It won’t be long.”
In the candy aisle, the little girl whines for candy. The mother says, “There, there, Missy. Don’t you cry. Two more aisles, and we’ll be checking out.”
When they get to the checkout stand, the little girl howls for gum.
The mother calmly says, “Missy, we’ll be done in five minutes,
and then you can go home and have a bottle and a nice snooze.”
In the parking lot, the man stops the woman to compliment her. “I couldn’t help noticing how patient you were with little Missy,” he says. “The mother sighed and said, “Oh no, my little girl’s name is Francine. I’M MISSY!!”
Sometimes, You’ve Just Got To Laugh!