Does Dementia Cause Speech Problems?

Does Dementia Cause Speech Problems?

What Is Dementia?

Dementia is a neurological condition that causes memory loss and decreased cognitive abilities. It is a progressive condition, meaning it worsens over time. These problems with memory and thinking can make it difficult for the person to navigate their daily life. Remembering important information, solving problems, and planning their day becomes increasingly challenging. Completing routine everyday tasks such as getting dressed or taking medications can be affected as well. Because dementia worsens over time and can have significant effects on the individual’s quality of life, seeking support as soon as possible is essential. Speech therapy can be a very valuable and beneficial resource for people affected by dementia. Getting started with support for yourself or a loved one is as simple as scheduling your free introductory call

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Dementia?

In the majority of cases, dementia begins with memory loss. As time goes on, other signs and symptoms can begin to emerge. They can include:

  • Being Easily Distracted 
  • Frequent Forgetfulness and/or Confusion
  • Difficulty Making Plans and Setting Goals
  • Difficulty Following Conversations
  • Difficulty Expressing Their Needs and Wants 
  • Changes in Personality 
  • Depression
  • Difficulty Eating and Swallowing

In the later stages of dementia, difficulties with feeding themselves, walking independently, or speaking clearly are common.

What Causes Dementia?

Dementia alone is not considered to be a disease. Various brain conditions cause dementia. Some of these include:

  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Multiple Small Strokes
  • Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Huntington’s Disease

Reactions to certain medications and infections can also cause symptoms that are similar to dementia. In most cases, these symptoms will disappear after treatment. 

Does Dementia Cause Speech Problems?

As dementia progresses, brain cells are destroyed and patients experience a symptom called aphasia. Aphasia refers to the loss of the ability to speak and understand speech. Aphasia becomes worse as dementia progresses. It can become harder to recall the right words and process information and what others are saying. 

Dementia can take years to progress through its stages, with symptoms worsening through each subsequent stage. In the beginning phases, someone with dementia can carry on typical conversations but may forget a word or use the wrong word. However, resuming a conversation after an interruption can be difficult. These ‘hiccups’ in communication occur frequently in most people. Dementia affects the brain in a way that language difficulties become more pronounced. Turns of phrase, cliches, slang, and common expressions become difficult to understand and impossible to remember. 

It is also common for someone with dementia to start confusing the meaning of words. For example, They might say “I want bugs for dinner” instead of asking for their favorite meal or calling a television “the picture”. Another common challenge is difficulty thinking about multiple ideas at once and they may jump from topic to topic without completing a coherent thought or sentence.

In addition, the ability to comprehend speech is affected. Often, words coming into the brain with dementia can be just as confusing as what’s going out. If someone speaks rapidly (or in a high-pitched voice, has an accent, or uses complicated speech) an individual with dementia will likely struggle to follow along. Getting the right support for someone with dementia is so important, and the sooner the better. Get started by scheduling your free introductory call today! 

What Type of Dementia Affects Speech? 

Frontotemporal dementia is a broad term for a group of brain disorders that affect the frontal and temporal lobes in the brain. These parts of the brain are typically associated with language, personality, and behavior.

Some subtypes of this type of dementia can lead to loss of speech or language problems or impairment. 

Do People with Dementia Struggle with Speech? Can Dementia Cause Garbled Speech?

How severely speech and language are affected varies with each individual. In some cases a dementia patient may not speak at all, may have garbled speech, or may babble like a baby or toddler. At this stage of dementia, the brain has become so badly damaged that the individual may be seeking sensory stimulation, which can present in the form of oral stimulation.

How Can Speech Therapy Help with Dementia?

The goal of language and speech therapy is to improve dementia patients’ current cognitive function as much as possible, as well as to work on lost functions and teach coping skills in order for patients to manage their disease as effectively as possible. This means addressing memory loss problems and other cognitive deficits. In this way, language and speech therapy does not only mean working on speech-related issues, but also stimulating the brain so that language skills, including memory, are improved as well. In fact, an individual with dementia may speak just fine. Speech and language pathologists offer completely individualized therapy specific to those with dementia. This is important because studies are increasingly demonstrating that dementia patients benefit significantly from specific supportive treatments such as speech therapy.

How Speech And Language Therapy Addresses Memory Loss:

Memory loss is typically associated with three major problems, including a sense of isolation or loneliness due to skipping events out of fear of forgetting things. Additionally, they may feel anxious or worried about their perceived lack of purpose in life, as well as a feeling of loss of dignity. Speech and language therapy can help give those with dementia the appropriate tools to address these feelings and challenges.

Speech and language therapy will also often include family members and caregivers to teach them how to increase the chances of creating happy memories and encouraging positive emotions. Not only does this type of therapy help improve one’s ability to communicate and increase confidence, but research has also shown that it may also slow down the progression of dementia. 

Overall, patients who receive speech and language therapy have been shown to be able to understand their language much better, particularly those in the advanced stages of dementia.

Dementia patients can experience incredible benefits from personalized care. Great Speech offers a variety of highly personalized, and high-quality services. Get started by scheduling your free introductory call today!