Help For Patients with Alzheimer’s and Dementia and Their Caregivers
by Mary Barr
The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia is a life-changing event. One may be tempted to throw in the towel and lose all hope. The diagnosis does not have to be the end of one’s story. Therapy and treatment can be effective in developing strategies and improving quality of life.
Throughout the treatment process, Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs) play a key role in giving the patient independence for the remainder of their life. To keep this independence, SLPs focus on cognition, communication, and swallowing (ASHA). Their goal is to “help the person with dementia use strategies to preserve communication and cognitive functioning for as long as possible” (ASHA). The strategies include: making directions for daily tasks, starting and maintaining a memory book to recall past events, and teaching caregivers how to communicate with the patients. For patients with issues swallowing, SLPs teach the patients safety measures when swallowing and they may also suggest a change in diet.
SLPs work directly with caregivers to ensure the patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s is getting the best care while they are at home. Some techniques given by SLPs are:
- Repeating key information
- Providing choices rather than asking open-ended questions
- Create written cues
- Keep information short and simple
More techniques and resources can be found on the ASHA website. They also suggest that caregivers attend support groups when coping and handling the stress of being a caregiver.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are life changing. Having a supportive team of professionals caring for these individuals is important for sustaining a healthy life for both the patients and the caregivers. Contact Pamela Rowe Speech Therapy of Jacksonville for more information.