Did you know that Alzheimer’s disease is estimated to affect 1 in 85 people worldwide by the year 2050? In order to raise public awareness of this disease, each November the Alzheimer’s Association recognizes National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness month. In support of this campaign, Speech Associates of NY will focus our blogs for the month of November on how Alzheimer’s disease affects communication and how speech-language therapy can help improve communication levels and increase quality of life.
Although the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease is reduced memory and cognitive function, language and communication are also affected. As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, vocabulary and fluency of speech begin to gradually decline. Although an individual with Alzheimer’s disease is often capable of communicating basic ideas for much of the disease’s course, in the advanced stages, language is typically reduced to single words and eventually, a complete lack of speech.
Speech-language therapy can be an important part of maintaining quality of life as Alzheimer’s advances. A speech-language pathologist can help patients and their families maintain effective communication for as long as possible. In the early stages of the disease, a speech therapist works directly with the individual with Alzheimer’s, helping to devise strategies that allow them the greatest level of functioning and independence. This includes the use of internal memory strategies, such as visualization or repetition, and external support, like journals, planners, or memory books.
As the disease progresses, speech therapy sessions will often focus on stimulating conversational skills and providing caregivers with information and support on communicating with their loved one in the most efficient way possible. In addition to helping with cognitive and communicative difficulties, speech-language pathologists also assist with difficulties in eating and swallowing which can arise in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s.
Stay tuned! Next week we’ll focus on strategies for helping caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease maintain a high quality of life for both their loved ones and themselves.
For information on our New York based Speech-Language Pathology services, please call Speech Associates of New York today at (212) 308-7725 or visit our website at http://www.speechassociatesofny.com and find out how our team of professionally trained and certified speech-language pathologists can help!
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