National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month: Part 2

Each November, the Alzheimer’s Association heads a campaign to raise public awareness of Alzheimer’s disease with National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. Although we’re officially in December now, we’d like to continue our blog series on communication deficits in Alzheimer’s disease in support of their efforts. Last week we discussed some of the basic background of Alzheimer’s disease; today we’ll talk about the role a speech-language pathologist can play in Alzheimer’s management.

Alzheimer’s affects cognitive function as a whole, which is accompanied by a decline in the ability to use and understand language. Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease and unfortunately there is no known way to stop or reverse the progression of the disease. However, a speech-language pathologist can help the individual and their family to devise ways to help augment communication and maintain quality of life.

In the early stages of the disease, a speech-language pathologist can be extremely beneficial to an individual’s ability to maintain functional communication for as long as possible. Speech therapists will often work directly with the individual with Alzheimer’s, helping to devise strategies that allow them the greatest level of functioning and independence. Often, this includes the use of internal and external memory strategies, such as repetition of material and journals, planners, or memory books. As the disease advances, speech-language pathologists often work with the individual’s family members or caregivers to provide education in the most effective way to assist their loved one in communicating.

In addition to helping with cognitive and communicative difficulties, speech-language pathologists also assist with swallowing difficulties, which can arise in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s. Check in next week, when we will discuss some of the ways that speech-language pathologists can help facilitate eating and swallowing in late stage Alzheimer’s disease.

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!

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