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Speech Therapy for People with Alzheimer's or Dementia

If you’re the relative or caregiver of a person dealing with Alzheimer’s or dementia, it can be an extremely difficult and challenging situation. As your loved one experiences mental decline, it's difficult to know how best to help them stay comfortable and safe in their preferred environment.

One option to consider is speech therapy: in this blog post, we'll discuss why speech therapy may be beneficial for those facing cognitive disorders such as these, ways to make it easier and more accessible, plus resources you may not have considered before now.

In this article we will discuss:

Daughter comforts senior mother with arm around her, talking about getting help with dementia speech therapy from Better Speech

What is dementia?

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe the symptoms which occur as a result of damage to the brain caused by certain diseases or small strokes. Dementia is progressive, which means that over time, symptoms will deteriorate. The rate at which dementia will deteriorate depends on which type and at what stage a person’s dementia is at. Severity will depend on:

  • The individual.

  • Lifestyle.

  • Adherence to medication.

  • Type of dementia.

  • Age of onset.

  • Other medical conditions.

Dementia mainly affects men and women over the age of 65, however occasionally younger people can have dementia.

Types of dementia

There are many different types of dementia. Some of the most common forms of dementia include:

  • Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's is the most common disease to cause dementia. Short-term memory problems are the early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.

  • Vascular dementia. Vascular dementia is when the oxygen supply to the brain can be disrupted leading to some of the brain cells dying.

  • Lewy bodies dementia. Lewy bodies dementia is when abnormal cell structures develop in the nerve cells.

  • Fronto-temporal dementia. Fronto-temporal dementia is when personality and behavior changes are most noticeable and problems start in the front of the brain.

Speech therapy can be beneficial for dementia patients

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What causes dementia?

The cause of dementia is damage to the brain; there are many different diseases that can cause this damage. The most common cause of dementia is old age.

How is dementia diagnosed?

Dementia is diagnosed by a medical professional, working within a multidisciplinary team and will take many different aspects into consideration. It may take a few assessments until a final diagnosis is given. The speech and language therapist plays a key role in assessing, identifying and treating individuals with dementia.

After initial diagnosis, a speech-language pathologist (SLP) must first obtain a detailed, heightened awareness of the daily challenges against which the individual with early-stage dementia is battling. His or her initial loss of independence can be overwhelming. Struggles in the early stage may include but are not limited to denial; depression; short-term memory loss; paranoia; repetitive question-asking; and changes in sleep patterns, smell, and taste. Persons with early-stage dementia also experience difficulty with visual perception, word retrieval and semantic memory, way-finding, driving, executive functions, and financial and medication management.

What problems caused by dementia can speech therapy help with?

There are many different problems that are caused by dementia which speech and language therapy can help with. Our speech and language therapists can help individuals who have dementia with attention and listening problems, communication problems, swallowing difficulties, and voice and speech problems.

Speech and language therapy can improve any aspect of a patient's communication difficulties caused by dementia, it may also improve the coping strategies for the patient to support the independence and confidence of the patient.

How does speech and language therapy help dementia?

Speech and language therapy helps people who suffer from dementia. Speech and language therapists can offer help and advice on language, communication, information processing, memory, as well as eating, drinking, and swallowing guidelines. Speech and language therapy can include assessment and advice as well as support for the individual and their family. Speech therapy for dementia has so many benefits!

A couple spending time around the city.

What would speech and language therapy treatment for dementia involve?

There are many other approaches that may help dementia depending upon the individual and stage of dementia. Some of these methods may be discussed in an initial appointment with the speech and language therapist.

Speech and language therapy treatment for dementia will involve a tailored speech and language therapy program and will take into account the severity of dementia. Speech and language therapy for dementia may involve assessment, reports, reviews, therapy programs, support groups, advice and education.

The widespread question, "Can dementia patients learn?" remains a hot debate among cognitive clinicians, including speech pathologists, occupational therapists, neuropsychologists, and physicians. An SLP's assessment of new learning capacity is comprehensive and therefore yields the development of a clinically appropriate and effective treatment plan. Because early-stage dementia appreciates some new learning abilities, the door remains open for a multitude of traditional as well as advanced cognitive treatment procedures and compensatory strategies.

An SLP manages dysphagia in persons with dementia via the use of compensatory techniques categorized as the following:

  • management of cognitive challenges during mealtime: environmental modifications and alertness, attention, and behavioral modifications; and

  • management of cognitive-based dysphagia: oral acceptance, oral apraxia, and oral preparatory compensatory techniques and adaptive equipment.

To learn more about speech therapy for people with Alzheimer's or Dementia, book a consultation with us at Better Speech. At Better Speech, we offer online speech therapy services convenient for you and tailored to your child's individual needs. Our services are affordable and effective - get Better Speech now.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does speech therapy help dementia patients?

Speech therapy can be very beneficial to dementia patients. Many times when treating dementia patients, the therapy is not considered 'restorative' but rather is considered 'maintenance' therapy. This is because dementia is known to be a degenerative disease in many cases, and so maintenance therapy is the attempt to maintain as many of the individual's skills as possible. This might look like creating a memory book for the patient, and going through that memory book with them to remind them of who their loved ones are, what their homes look like, etc.

What are some of the benefits of speech therapy for dementia?

How often does someone need to see a speech therapist for dementia?

How long does speech therapy for dementia usually last?


Cheri Gipson

I am a speech-language pathologist who specializes in language skills and pronunciation. I obtained my Master’s of Science degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Western Illinois University and I have worked in the field of speech pathology for over 20 years. One of the things I enjoy most is helping people learn.

In my spare time, I enjoy writing tips on how to improve online teaching for both the larger language schools and also as a private ESL teacher. Teaching is my passion, and I love seeing students make progress. Every day is a new adventure, and I am grateful for the opportunity to help people learn and grow!


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by Patricia D. Myers

I'm not an English native speaker and I wanted to improve my speech. Better Speech onboarding process is AWESOME, I met with different people before being matched with an AMAZING Therapist, Christina. My assigned therapist created a safe place for me to be vulnerable and made all the sessions fun and helpful. Thanks to her, I received great feedback from my clients.

by John L. Wilson

Better Speech is a great program that is easy to use from home and anywhere online. Shannon was amazing at engaging our shy son - and building on their relationship each session! Her commitment to knowing him improved his confidence to speak and practice more. Truly appreciate her dedication. She cares for her clients.

by Christy O. King

Better Speech is an excellent opportunity to improve your speech in the convenience of your home with flexible scheduling options. Our therapist Miss Lynda was nothing short of amazing! We have greatly appreciated and enjoyed the time spent together in speech therapy. Her kind, engaging and entertaining spirit has been well received. She will surely be missed.

by Patricia W. Lopez

This service is so easy, i signed up, got a therapist and got to set up an appointment right away that worked with my schedule. so glad to see that services like speech therapy are finally catching up to the rest of the convenience age! therapy is great, i can't believe how many good tips, exercises and methods in just the first session. really recommend it!

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