Better Speech and Hearing Month: Dementia

May is Better Speech and Hearing Month! So SANY is dedicating this month’s blogs to raising awareness about different types of communication disorders. This week, we focus on dementia and the communication deficits that accompany it.

Of the more than 70 million people in theUnited Statesaged 55 years and older, more than 20% present with some type of communication disorder. One in particular that affects older adults is dementia. While dementia is primarily a cognitive issue, affecting the individual’s memory, there are significant communication issues that are experienced alongside it.

The type of communication disorder primarily depends on the type of dementia. Dementias that affect the cortex of the brain, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, tend to result in language disorders, in which the individual has trouble formulating language. Dementias that affect the subcortex of the brain tend to have speech-related issues, such as decreased vocal volume or dysarthria (the inability to produce speech sounds accurately).

What can you do to better communicate with someone with dementia?

-Minimize distractions

-Make eye contact

-Make sure you have the person’s full attention before speaking

-Speak slowly

-Use short, simple sentences

-Avoid open-ended questions; Instead, try to use a yes/no or multiple choice format.

-Avoid complicated language forms, like sarcasm, humor, or metaphors

A professional speech-language pathologist can also help the individual improve and maintain communication skills as well as provide valuable information to caretakers and family members about how to develop strategies for daily communication.

If you or a loved one are experiencing a communication disorder, contact Speech Associates of New York today to find a professional speech-language pathologist who can help you communicate to your fullest. Remember, early intervention is the key to maintaining and developing strong communication skills.

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