Each November, the Alzheimer’s Association heads a campaign to raise public awareness of Alzheimer’s disease with National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. In honor of their efforts, this month Speech Associates of New York will focus our blog on different aspects of Alzheimer’s disease, how it affects communication, and how a speech-language pathologist can help.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and is estimated to affect 1 in 85 people worldwide by the year 2050. While the cause of Alzheimer’s disease is not well understood, research indicates that the disease is associated with plaques and tangles in the brain. While treatments are available to help minimize the symptoms of the disease, unfortunately there is currently no cure available to stop or reverse the progression of the disease.
Alzheimer’s disease affects cognitive function, which in turn, affects language and communication. Mild impairments in semantic memory (memory of meanings, and concept relationships) are noted in the early phases of the disease. As it advances, language problems are characterized by a shrinking vocabulary and decreased word fluency. Together, this leads to a general decrease in oral and written language productivity, characterized by frequent, incorrect word substitutions. The individual with Alzheimer’s disease is typically capable of communicating basic ideas adequately for much of the disease’s course. However, in the advanced stages, language is generally reduced to single words and eventually, a complete lack of speech.
Next week, we’ll talk about the role a speech-language pathologist can play in helping an individual with Alzheimer’s disease maintain communicative function and quality of life for as long as possible.
If you or someone you love has a communication disorder, contact Speech Associates of New York and allow our professionally trained and certified speech-language pathologists help you communicate to the best of your ability. Our team provides in-home evaluations and therapy, and is trained in the assessment and treatment of a range of pediatric and adult speech, language and communication disorders. Call us today at (212)308-7725 and find out how we can help you communicate your best!