It is so difficult to watch as a loved one shows changes in thinking and language. When we watch someone struggle to find the correct word, or when we ourselves can’t follow their train of thought, our hearts sink.
I spent a couple of decades working as a speech/language pathologist, so I have a pretty good body of knowledge when it comes to how language is organized in our brains. I’ve seen all kinds of language disorders and deficits, and I recognize them when I run into people who are exhibiting the symptoms.
I’m pretty familiar with the language of dementia, too, having watched a few loved ones progress into old age. I recognize the signs when someone begins to jump from one topic to the next as if every conversation is simply a stream of consciousness. Each comment triggers the next, with a diminishing connection to the original idea.
Here is an example of what I firmly believe is a language/cognitive disorder. Try to follow the thread and see if you notice what I mean.
Q: “Is there a number below five billion that you might be willing to accept in order to reopen the government? A: Right.Well I’d rather not say it, ah, could we do it for a little bit less, it’s so insignificant compared to what we’re talking about. You know I’ve heard numbers as high as 275 billion dollars we lose in illegal immigration and here we have a wall that you’re talking about, to complete, because, again a lot has already been done because we’ve been getting money in…somebody said that we didn’t spend the money, well, we have spent it but we don’t paycontractors before they finish the job, that’s one of the other things that Pat and I sort of instituted. We like to have people do the work, so if we’re building a wall, we’re paying as they build it, we pay it when it’s finished. So they do a good job.This way if they don’t do a good job, we don’t pay them. So not all of the money has beenpaid, but the money has been used. So maybe you guys could remember that we you say that I haven’t spent the money, we’ve spent the money. We wanna finish it up. The five billion, five point six billion approved by the House is such a small amount compared to the level of the problem. When you see that the democrats want to give away twelve billion extra, and we’re giving away 54 billion in foreign aid. So we give money to countries but we don’t give money to our own country, which is another thing that I’ve been complaining about, and we’re cutting that back. It’s very unfair. When we give money to Guatemala and to Honduras, and to El Salvador, and they do nothing for us. When we give money to Pakistan, one point three billion dollars, I ended that, a lot of people don’t know it, because they haven’t been fair to us. We wanna have a great relationship with Pakistan. But they house the enemy, they take care of the enemy, we just can’t do that. So I look forward to meeting with the folks from, and the new leadership in Pakistan, we’ll be doing that in the not too distant future, but I ended the one point three billion that we paid, like it was water, we just pay it. To Pakistan. And I ended that. And we ended a lot of other money that’s being sent out on a monthly basis, and a yearly basis, to countries that don’t even vote for us in the United Nations. We give them billions of dollars, they don’t even vote for us in the United Nations. When we want something, to help certain countries…..and you know it’s not all about the rich countries, cuz the rich countries really do take advantage of us cuz they pay a very small percentage of their military….and they cheat on trade. They take advantage of us on trade. Other than that, they’re wonderful, OK? But there are countries that are poor, that we will com…we don’t want anything from them! We want to help them. There are some horrible things going on in the world. And we wanna help those people, we don’t want money from them. We don’t want that. We’re not looking for that.But when you have massively wealthy countries, that have very low military costs because the United States subsidizes them, so they take advantage of us on military…they could easily pay us, the full amounts. And they also take advantage of us on trade. So when I speak up, I mean, that’s why I got elected, issues like that. Issues like the border and it would be so easy not to do anything. When they say I’m not popular in Europe, I shouldn’t be popular in Europe! If I was popular in Europe, I wouldn’t be doing my job. Because I want Europe to pay. Germany pays one percent. They should be paying four percent.They pay one percent. They should be paying even more than that. Other countries pay a small percentage of what they should be paying. So when I say, ‘I’m sorry, folks, you have to pay up’, I shouldn’t be popular in Europe. They do a poll, I was at 88 percent and now I’m at, you know, a very low number. And Europe, I don’t care about Europe. I’m not elected by Europeans, I’m elected by Americans. And by American taxpayers, frankly. So, I think my relationship, I will tell you, with the leaders is very good. A lot of them don’t even understand how they got away with it for so many years. I’ll say to….Angela, and I’ll say to many of the other leaders, I’m friends with all of them, I’ll say, ‘How did this ever happen?’ And they sorta go, like ‘I can’t believe it either.’ They can’t believe it! You know why, cuz their Presidents and other people within their administrations, in the past, they allowed them to get away. Like some of them would say, ‘Well no one ever asked us to pay.’ We have negotiations going on with numerous countries right now to pay a lot of money to the United States for what we’re doing for them. I wouldn’t say they’re thrilled. Because they’ve had many many years where they didn’t have to pay. So now they’re gonna have to pay. And if that makes me unpopular in those countries, that’s OK. But we’re doing tremendous service to those countries, and they should at least respect us. They didn’t respect us, and that was the problem.”
I assume that you noticed a few disturbing things about this “response” to a simple question. Hopefully, you saw that the question was never answered or even addressed. The speaker went on for four minutes and forty five seconds without pause, but never even tried to answer the question.
You may also have seen that each idea lead fluidly to the next, with the speaker never realizing that he had strayed completely off the path of the original question. That lack of self awareness is another hallmark of disordered thinking.
The speaker (pretend it’s your Uncle Pete) also assumed that his listeners were following his internal thoughts. The speaker refers to the Democrats hoping to “give away twelve billion extra,” but never explains what he means. Extra in what way? Beyond what amount? Given to whom?
When he says that “Germany pays one percent,” he doesn’t explain. He seems to believe that we already know, because he does. One percent of what? Why?
I also think that in spite of his ability to recall exact dollar amounts, this man shows signs of a word finding problem. Note the pause before he pulls out the name “Angela” when thinking about European leaders. Note the use of phrases like “certain countries” and “many leaders.” Few specific labels are found anywhere in this response.
Please watch the video that I’ve put at the end of this post. I ask you to turn off your partisan reactions, and pretend that this language and this thinking is coming from your elderly relative.
Then reach out to our members of Congress, no matter which party they represent. Reach out to the media. Ask why in the world nobody is willing to stand up and say that Uncle Pete needs a neuropsych evaluation as soon as possible.
The entire world is put in danger by a US President with this kind of disordered thinking, no matter what its’ cause.