PSP Association

understanding the poor speech

During my daily visit to Frank he was most anxious to tell me some story of events in the care home. I listened carefully and gave him my full attention. At the end of the story he asked me, as clear as daylight, if I agreed with him, and was it true? I try to let him think I can understand what he says, his speech has deteriorated over the past weeks, but not his desire to speak. Should i know how to react to this?

9 Replies

This is a tricky one! The short answer is "no"!

The long answer is it depends on how much of his discourse you understood or could make sense of based on what you know. Mum will sometimes tell me an anecdote and even if I'm not a 100% sure of what she is saying I can piece together the general gist because of something my Dad or sister have already said. Sometimes I don't have a clue and will guess what answer might be appropriate. Sometimes I answer with a question of my own - "when did that happen?", "what do you think about that?", or something non-committal. Sometimes I just say "Sorry, Mum, I can't answer because I am not sure what you are asking".

Like everything else with PSP there isn't an easy answer.


I think that if it were me with psp I would want to know if I hadn't been understood. A lot of the time I can get the essence of what Tom is saying, but if I dont I tell him so. Sometimes he has several tries before I understand, but at least there are no mistakes. I think its kinder in the long run because he knows if he tells me something important he will know whether or not I have understood. Tom's speech therapist is compiling a tablet of pictures and triggers to help with his communication - maybe you could ask for something similar?


Hi there - Geoff's speech is impossible to understand and he also has an awful lot to say! We tried a talking machine that the speech therapist gave to him but unfortunately his sight is so bad that he couldn't manage that - now we have a great big alphabet board and he points to the letters and also to a sentence at the bottom of the board that says "end of word". I have never pretended to understand him and we go on for ages sometimes till I can understand a sentence but when he gets frustrated I just laugh at him and say - you are pointing the same way as you talk - this normally makes him laugh and he starts again only a little bit slower!

This is how we manage good luck to you - it's a terrible illness xx


Hi Kay - it is frustrating for everyone involved. What I used to do with my dad is tell him -"Dad I'm having a hard time understanding you so I am going to ask you a couple of questions first and answer me with a toe wiggle and then we'll start over with what you are trying to tell me" - -My questions were "are you ok?" "is something bothering you?" "are you hurting" --stuff like that and then if he was ok then we would start over with what he was trying to tell me.


Thank you so much for replying to my question - we ARE all in this together and it seems that along with loss of speech each person has an additional drawback, either poor sight, shaky hands, lack of concentration , we are coping as best we can with this dreadful PSP, if love, care and devotion was the answer we would be rid of the PSP


In dealing with the speech problem, we are also confronted with my being hard of hearing. Consequently, even when Polly's speech is understandable I often must ask her to repeat her question or comment. Fortunately, she is as patient with me as I am with her so we generally can wind up communicating. Vision is also a problem (20/200) but we are fortunate to have a State library that provides books on tape or flash drive as well as the equipment to play them. This has been a real blessing. They even have their library containing thousands of volumes on line so that I can search in various categories and download to snap drives. Great because she loved to read and this addresses that need. Our real downer is that she has begun to have some difficulties with swallowing. Not serious at this point but it is progressive. PSP is **##%^&!!!


Len - sounds as though you are really good at finding solutions to each problem as it rears its ugly head, I find it difficult to distinguish between "a bad day" and "Progressive" .............



my speech is a probelm in tha ti tsi garbled quieter and i repea tmyself

i also have deafness problems and cannot always hear miyself!

i have got an ipad with hte prologue to og APP which i am learnign to use now and then i shalll be able to ask fo rhtings whe. and if . my speech goes entirely

i tis a reall probelm ijn commuinciating as mjy typign! i salso dyslexic

lol JIll :-)


Jill - you are not going to let anything beat you, are you? you should be so proud of yourself and what you are achieving. If I was wearing a hat, I would raise it to you ma'am x


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