This year, the week of July 6 to July 12 is designated as Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness week. Alzheimer’s is a disease which primarily affects an individual’s cognitive functioning and memory. Because the intellectual issues that accompany this disease are so disruptive, people often lose sight of other effects such as communication difficulties.
In addition to memory issues and disorientation, a person with Alzheimer’s may also have difficulty formulating language. Since Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease (meaning it continually worsens over time), a speech-language pathologist cannot “fix” the patient. However, they can assist them in maximizing the language that they have, and better communicate with those around them.
When working with a patient with Alzheimer’s disease, the speech-language pathologist will conduct an evaluation to see which areas of language and communication have experienced the greatest decline and which are relatively in tact. Then, using this information, the speech therapist will work with the patient to improve the areas of deficit. They will also utilize their relatively strong capabilities to assist them in communicating in their daily lives. Often, late-stage Alzheimer’s patients will also have difficulty with feeding and swallowing. A speech-language pathologist can assist in this area too, providing suggestions and techniques to improve nutrition and mealtime routines.
Do you think a loved one may be experiencing the early signs of Alzheimer’s Disease? Take a look at the following link to learn the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s and how to distinguish them from typical, age-related memory loss. http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_10_signs_of_alzheimers.asp
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.