If Aussie's advice to repair permissions doesn't resolve the issue, RAM might be the culprit.
I emailed Aussie DJ to see if he thought RAM might be the issue. He suggested I post, so here goes. Word might not be responding due to a lack of RAM. How much RAM do you have installed?
One way to get an idea whether more RAM will help or not, is to check Page outs and Swap used. First, use your Mac as you normally would, the longer the better (checking this right after starting up isn’t likely to show you anything). After you’ve used your Mac for awhile (again, the longer the better), go to Applications > Utilities > open Activity Monitor > in the top menu at right, select All Processes in the drop down menu > near the bottom of the window click on System Memory. If Page outs is more that about 10% of Page ins, and/or Swap used is large, chances are good that adding RAM will help.
Hope you'll post back with results.
Thanks so much to both AussieDJ and tjk. I suspect RAM is the culprit although wanted to believe that having only Word open couldn't possibly be a RAM issue I am fairly certain I've filled the available slots with RAM, but will run as normal this morning and then check as you've suggested. I forgot about repairing permissions (obviously) and will also give that a shot. I will let you know how it goes!