Why do my demented parents read every billboard and street sign?

For more than a year, when you are in the car with my parents, they recite a litany of street signs, billboards and bumper stickers. My siblings noticed this before me since I had not been in a car with my parents until the licenses were revoked. Now, I experience their constant liturgy describing the unfolding view when I give them a ride.

I find this a very odd habit. As I drove my parents around today, I was intrigued, but saddened. I took their attempts at discussing the “view” as a way to replace the conversations we used to have. They don’t remember what is happening in my life, so the closest substitute is what we are experiencing together on our drive.

Another blogger, Butch, sent along a link to an article by Marie Marley called Love Remembered Despite Alzheimer’s.  In her article she seemed to answer the question that has been plaguing me for a few months.

Why do my parents read ever street sign in sight? I sense in some way, they know that in the very near future they will lose the ability to read. Verbalizing the words on the signs they see reaffirms their humanity.

I’m realizing how many odd behaviors of my parents I’ve neglected to notice as they changed over the years. I knew they were different, but did not have a clarity to describe or define the many ways they had changed in front of me. Ignored.

3 thoughts on “Why do my demented parents read every billboard and street sign?

  1. My mom reads signs too. I think it is her way of latching onto the present moment, and trying to make sense of the world. As though she is telling herself, I’m here now, there’s a sign, it says…, and so this is what being here means.

  2. My aunt does this too! My Mom also did it before she died. Sometimes when I am a passenger instead of the driver, I find myself calling out the signs as well. Could be a memory prompt or just commenting on the scenery.

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