“Mmmm. Mmmm. Mmmm. Mmmm.” It surprised me when I heard that little noise. Emanating from?
Me! It was me making that little noise. This is weird.
In recent weeks, I've caught myself several times making strange little noises – mmmm, mmmm, mmmm, mmmm or unh, unh, unh, unh or hooh, hooh, hooh, hooh or something similar.
There seems to be no reason for them. I might be at the computer or watching TV, reading a book or just doing nothing. Then I catch myself going, “unh, unh, unh, unh” and I have no idea if I do it only when I'm alone or when I'm in the grocery store or anywhere else.
It doesn't seem to be connected to any thought or disturbance or related to any kind of feeling or emotion. It just is. And I don't know if I catch it every time or if it goes on without my notice.
Is this an old person thing? I wondered. I've never noticed it in other old people (or people of any other age) and I'm pretty sure it's something new with me. So, of course, I took to the internet.
There isn't much but I found this in a two-year-old discussion at metafilter:
”My grandpa, who was ~65-85 while I knew him, was always making noises,” writes Polycarp. “Little humming breaths, the uhs, tons of mmms...He was playing wiffle ball and mowing the lawn into his early 80s, so it didn't seem to have any health ramifications, and I'm sure he wasn't that way when he was younger...”
Some people say unconscious sounds from old people are related to hearing loss and/or cognitive decline. On the same metafilter page, beagle writes,
”This is also a typical attribute of people with dementia. For that population it often expands to include repeated words or phrases. The author of the linked study suggests that the behavior is associated with anxiety or agitation and that the vocalizations are 'self-soothing.'”
That study link goes to an abstract of a report on dementia only. Almost all the small amount of discussion I could find references old people who are not cognitively impaired.
Here is another, named Mismatchedsock, from the metafilter page:
"I work in a hospital with an almost exclusively retired population. I'm in and out of different rooms all day long for 10-15 minute stretches and I'd say 20 percent of my patients do this. Some of them also have hearing loss but it doesn't always coincide. I used to think it was because they were nervous. But if I asked, most of them said they didn't realize they were doing it."
In general, it is adult children who have commented on this phenomenon, one they universally find annoying, as AMTIRED2 and ugeh37 report at agingcare.com:
”Mom is constant with the same verbal sounds - nothing in the house to trigger it, Oh ho ho- from the moment the little souls [sic] feet hit the floor in the morning to bed time - it is like chalk screeching across a black board in my head.”
”My mother...makes noise constantly. Sometimes it's kind of musical, but when I say musical think of the random, chaotic, insane, melody you might here in a horror movie about a psycho.
“Much of the time it's just random humming. Very loud random humming. She does it constantly, from the time she get's up, until she lays down at night. If she's moving, she's making noise.
“I've tried ignoring it, and sometimes I can manage it, but its like Chinese water torture.”
At another website, commenters discussed the grunts and groans of ageing bodies such as while taking off boots or shoes, getting up from a chair, climbing stairs, etc. but this isn't what I mean.
As far as I can tell, my weird little sounds are unrelated to any physical effort. They just appear and as I noted above, I have no idea if I always hear them or if they happen sometimes without my awareness.
Fortunately, this is no big deal, nothing to get exercised about. Just strange.
Do any of you know what I'm talking about?