Speech Therapy and Dementia
Dementia is a condition that causes memory loss and other thinking problems that deepen over time. According to the World Health Organization, around 50 million people have dementia worldwide. Every year there are close to 10 million new cases.
It is very common for older adults who have experienced a stroke or dementia to have problems with speech. In the middle and late stages of dementia many patients have difficulty communicating and understanding when others communicate to them. In fact, people with dementia represent the third-largest caseload for speech language pathologists working in U.S. healthcare, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).
If you have a loved one struggling with speech and other forms of communication, seeking out a speech pathologist to work on speech therapy could be a great option. Speech therapy works on both verbal and non-verbal language skills for patients with two basic components.
1. Addressing articulation, fluency, and voice-volume recognition through mouth coordination
2. How to use and express language through a variety of traditional and alternative communication forms
Speech therapy that addresses articulation might focus on recovery of speech, language and memory skills. A speech pathologist will focus on improvements of oral muscle strength and functioning required for speaking and swallowing, and even appropriate diet recommendations. Patients can learn to express language through writing, signing, and body language, as well as alternative forms like technology – computers, tablets, and social media.
Small changes like incorporating a marker with a notebook so your loved one can write things or draw pictures can be a simple way to make communication easier. Some families try to learn simple sign language or hand gestures as a new way to communicate as well.
A speech pathologist teaches patients to modify their environment. This helps them adapt to the ongoing cognitive changes caused by dementia. Memory-boosting techniques like errorless learning, spaced retrieval, and memory books have also proven helpful.
Creating a memory book with your loved one can be a fun way to talk about their life and the things that are important to them. In a memory book you can include anything that will bring back specific moments from your loved one’s life. Include photos, dates and descriptions of events that are important and that will assist in sparking memories and conversations.
Dementia is a heartbreaking condition; families need to build a support team to help them through this time. Many dementia patients will eventually lose the ability to communicate and the use of other cognitive functions. That is why it is imperative to find the right treatment and the right care team.
If your loved one is struggling with symptoms of dementia our skilled caregivers can help. Call Visiting Angels today, at 570-768-4747, to learn more about our home care services and the ways we are helping our dementia clients and their families.