How Is Speech Affected By Alzheimer's?

How Is Speech Affected By Alzheimer's?

Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative disease that tends to develop slowly and gradually, in most cases increasingly worsening over several years. As it progresses, Alzheimer’s disease eventually affects most areas of the brain. Skills and abilities related to memory, thinking, cognition, judgment, language, personality, problem-solving, and movement can all be affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

There are five stages that are associated with the progression of Alzheimer’s disease: preclinical Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease, mild dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease, moderate dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease, and severe dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease. The term “Dementia” is used to describe a set of symptoms that affect social and intellectual abilities significantly enough to interfere with the individual’s daily function. Dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease can be present throughout all stages of the disease, and as a result, speech and communication abilities can also be affected significantly from the onset of the disease and onward. If you or someone you love is struggling to communicate because of Alzheimer’s disease help is available. Time with a speech therapist can be incredibly beneficial for those affected by the disease. Get started by scheduling your free introductory call today! 

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a disorder of the brain that gradually destroys memory and thinking abilities and, eventually, the skills required to carry out simple tasks. In most cases, the late-onset type symptoms first appear in the individual’s mid-60s. Early-onset Alzheimer’s can occur between a person’s 30s and mid-60s however this is very rare. Among older adults, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. 

The disease gets its name from Dr. Lois Alzheimer, who In 1906, noticed changes in the brain tissue of a woman who had died as a result of an unfamiliar mental illness. Her symptoms included unpredictable behavior, language problems, and memory loss. After she died, Dr. Alzheimer conducted an examination of her brain and discovered many abnormal clumps (now referred to as amyloid plaques) and tangled bundles of fibers (now referred to as neurofibrillary, or tau, tangles).

These plaques and tangled fibers in the brain are considered to be some of the main features of this disease. Another aspect of Alzheimer’s is the degeneration of the connections between nerve cells (neurons) in the brain. Neurons transmit messages between various parts of the brain, and from the brain to different muscles and organs throughout the body. There are many other complex changes to the brain that are thought to play a role in Alzheimer’s as well.

Initially, this damage occurs in parts of the brain that involve memory, including the entorhinal cortex and hippocampus. As the disease progresses, It later affects areas in the cerebral cortex, such as those responsible for reasoning, social skills, and language and communication. Over time, many other areas of the brain are damaged as well. Time with a specialized speech therapist can help to slow the degeneration process and retain communication skills. Support for you or your loved one is available now, schedule your free introductory call today! 

How Does Alzheimer’s Affect Speech?

When the brain deteriorates as a result of this disease, speech, and language processing abilities deteriorate as well. 

Speech difficulties related to Alzheimer’s disease can be serious, and a specialized therapy plan is an essential part of supporting someone with the disease. Without time with an experienced speech and language pathologist, these challenges can become worse and further impact independence and overall quality of life. Schedule a free introductory call with us here at Great Speech today, and we’ll make sure you or your loved one makes consistent progress toward regaining lost skills.

What Stage of Alzheimer’s Disease Affects Speech the Most?

Early Stages 

In the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s Disease, difficulties recalling words or finding the right vocabulary to express thoughts are common. In this stage, a loss of verbal fluency is also common, causing individuals to stutter, stop speaking or not finish their sentences. The use of filler words, (such as “um,”) and slower speech will also occur, as well as difficulties understanding and interpreting formal written and spoken languages. Typically at this stage, symptoms are mostly mild. Individuals form sentences and express thoughts but perhaps at a slower pace than they once did.

Moderate Stages

Throughout the moderate to severe stages, symptoms become increasingly noticeable. Individuals at this stage will often struggle to form simple sentences or follow conversations. Many people may begin slurring, stammering, repeating words, and using incorrect words or phrases. This is a challenging time for those who are affected by the disease and their loved ones. Plenty of support, encouragement, and patience are essential.

Severe Stages

In the severe stages of this disease, individuals may not be able to form coherent thoughts and speech. It is common for someone with Alzheimer’s to frequently repeat phrases or ideas that they have heard from others. When speech does occur, it is often incoherent or illogical. It is common for individuals to sing, babble, or say words that are unrelated to the situation or conversation.

How Can Speech Therapy Help with Alzheimer’s Disease?

Therapy for speech, language and cognitive impairments provides the tools that are necessary to improve language functioning and independence as much as possible.In order to do this, speech-language pathologists create a custom treatment plan that focuses on improving skills related to memory and language. These treatment plans must always take into account the current cognitive status of the individual.

With speech therapy for Alzheimer’s patients, the goal is to increase communication in all its forms, including speaking, reading, conversation, gesturing, and writing. It provides patients with the help and support they need to perform at their highest ability.

A Speech-Language-Pathologist (SLP) can help an individual with dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease remain as independent as possible. During their appointments, they may work on such things as attention, problem-solving, memory, and higher-level thinking skills. The speech therapist may also focus on training family members, loved ones, and caregivers on how to optimize communication with the person with Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s can be a very cruel disease, but there is help and support available. Get started today by scheduling your free introductory call now!