My mother has started “chewing” and making this clicking noise with her mouth.
She looks like she has a mouthful of food but her mouth is empty, this is not a denture issue. Her tongue is darting in and out of her mouth. If she keeps her lips together none of this happens. She is 96 years old and lives with my husband and I. This is her only “bad” habit, why does she do this, it is extremely irritating to hear this while watching TV or sitting quietly. She does not want to sit in another room and doesn’t want us to. Please help.
This behavior can happen with dementia. Called perseveration, it’s defined as uncontrollable repetition of a particular response, such as a word, phrase, or gesture that can happen without a cause usually caused by a brain injury or disorder like Alzheimer’s disease.
I’d recommend checking with her doctor and/or dentist to be sure there isn’t a medical cause. Some medications can cause the mouth to be dry or there could be other problems.
Assuming that this is not the problem, would a piece of hard candy or popsicle help change the behavior? Other finger foods?
You write that this is her only “bad habit.” Do your best to accept that this isn’t a “bad habit” per se but more a byproduct of her dementia. You may have to accept the situation and work on your own response. With any luck, sometimes behaviors like this eventually go away.