MacBook Pro (OS X 10.6.8): can't update adobe flash - now Word, Chrome, etc. all crashing on startup

I am not computer savvy, so if you answer, please be slow and deliberate. thanks!
Was having Adobe shockwave/flash problems while running Chrome, which is not completely unheard of. Restarted my MacBook Pro (OS X 10.6.8), which included a software update (though I'm not sure exactly what programs were updated).
Now Chrome will not run at all. Every time I start, it crashes immediately. Have tried SEVERAL times to trash/download it, but the same version seems to keep appearing in my Applications folder. Have also tried trashing the Library/Application Support/Google/Chrome folder to no avail. Appears back in its place after dragging it to the trash. 
In addition, Adobe flash videos for Safari and Firefox (which I just downloaded as a tester) also will not work. Each attempt to update Adobe Flash also ends in a crash. And now I've discovered the same for everything Microsoft (Word, Excel, PowerPoint). The program shuts down and the Microsoft error message appears breifly, followed by the same crash "Mircrosoft Word Error Reporting Quit Unexpectedly" box.
Again, have tried several times to download Chrome & Adobe Flash to no avail. All system updates have been made to date. What to do next?

Has your computer started running slowly as well?  Everything taking forever to work?
if so, this is the same type of issues I'm having.

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