Why do the Elderly Talk to Themselves?

When the elderly people in our lives engage in self-talk, it’s important to pay attention and determine what the reason for it might be. Some reasons for this can include things as ordinary as thinking out loud out of old habits, or more serious issues such as cognitive impairments, mental health issues, or grief. 

Understanding the various reasons for self-talk in your elderly loved ones will help you determine whether or not to be concerned about them going forward.

Why do the elderly talk to themselves? 

We all talk to ourselves from time to time, but when the elderly people in our lives do so, we pay closer attention. It can be a sign of cognitive failure, mental health issues, grief, or it’s very possible they could simply be thinking out loud. Context can be key in figuring out whether or not to be concerned.

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Should you interrupt the self-talk and point it out? 

Generally speaking, interrupting self-talk as it’s happening isn’t necessary. You run the risk of the person being embarrassed or confused; they may not have noticed they were talking to themselves in the first place. 

As a rule of thumb, it’s best to observe before raising any alarms. 

When is it normal for elderly people to talk to themselves? 

Many people have a tendency to think out loud or to talk their way through something to better understand it. 

If the individual is dealing with newly onset hearing impairments, they may also be talking to themselves more because they find it’s harder to hear their own voice than it used to be. Neither of these issues is a significant cause for concern, so long as the self-talk habit isn’t a brand new development.

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In what ways can your elderly loved ones talking to themselves be a good thing? 

if you know to make the most of it. It can be a great tool for the following:

– Tracing your steps to find something.- Keeping you focused on your task.- Processing difficult emotions. – Motivating yourself. 

While it’s natural to worry about our loved ones who are more up in age, self-talk can be a positive thing in these types of cases. 

When should you be worried about an elderly person talking to themselves? 

If you’re not sure whether self-talk is a habit that the person has always had, be sure to ask. If it is a newly occurring habit, pay attention to their other daily habits and make note of any changes. 

Some warning signs to be aware of include: 

– The person doesn’t realize they’re talking to themselves.- They self-talk when others are around.- They talk and behave as though they aren’t alone in the room.

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When should you encourage them to see a doctor?

If you begin to notice any changes in their moods, daily habits, or behavior as you observe them, be sure to discuss these changes with a doctor. The self-talk on its own can be normal, however, if other parts of the person’s daily life are shifting as well, it doesn’t hurt to consult a professional to rule out anything serious.

Consult the list above and seek medical advice if any of those instances are applicable. 

Is self-talk a sign of dementia?

While self-talk is a symptom of various Neurodegenerative diseases, such as dementia, those diagnoses are not a sure thing by any means. 

Paying attention to signs like your elderly loved one talking to themselves can help catch these sorts of cognitive issues early. If their moods and behavior begin to suddenly change, it may be time to speak to a doctor.

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What cognitive impairments can the elderly talking to themselves be pointing to?

The word “dementia” covers multiple illnesses that cause cognitive impairment. Alzheimer’s disease makes up more than half of all cases of dementia; other causes include Parkinson’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, and vascular dementia. 

Each of these should be taken seriously as they can have a significant impact on the person’s quality of life. 

How to support your elderly loved ones when their cognitive faculties are failing. 

If self-talk does turn out to be a sign of cognitive failure, there are ways you can support your loved one during this time. 

– Empathize with them, and make it clear that you support them. – Ask them open-ended questions.-

Be patient with them, and take things slowly.  

What mental health conditions can self-talk point to? 

While people of all ages can and do suffer from mental health issues, elderly people who talk to themselves could be exhibiting signs of schizophrenia, anxiety, or other mental health conditions. 


If the elderly person in your life appears to be talking to themselves as part of a hallucination, it is important to seek help from a medical professional as they could be suffering from schizophrenia. One common sign of this condition is to hear voices in ones’ head and respond out loud. 


Self-talk may actually be encouraged in some situations as a means of coping with anxiety. Your elderly loved ones may be talking to themselves as a way to cope with their feelings and analyze them in a way that feels less overwhelming to them. 

Should you be worried about your elderly loved one speaking aloud to their late spouse?

After losing a loved one— a spouse, for example, your elderly loved one may not be talking to themselves per se, but rather coping with the loss by continuing to “talk to” their late partner. This habit alone can be normal, but if you notice your loved one becoming apathetic or losing interest in other things they loved, they may be suffering from depression. 

Do the elderly talk to themselves because they’re lonely? 

Nobody enjoys feeling lonely, left out, or like they’re no longer needed. Apart from the loss of a spouse, our elderly loved ones may be missing the opportunities to chat that they once had when they were more social and mobile. Self-talk can be a means of jogging their memory and keeping them engaged.