Is Speech Therapy Worthwhile After an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis?
Around 6.5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s. As hard as it is to hear your mom has this form of dementia, it’s pretty common for families to go through this. Take a moment to process everything your mom’s doctor tells you, and then take steps to help her maintain as much independence as possible.
She’s going to need someone to drive her to her appointments and area businesses. That’s one of the first changes. You may find her becoming unable to handle financial transactions without guidance. She’s not going to be able to cook her own meals as the disease progresses. But, there are family caregivers and home care aides to help her with those daily routines.
Speech therapists should be part of your mom’s care team after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Her ability to remain independent for as long as possible does take some work. Physical therapy can help her stay mobile. Speech therapy boosts her ability to communicate and comprehend what others are doing and saying.
An Expert Can Help Her Find Her Words
Your mom’s ability to recall words diminishes over time. As tempting as it is to fill in the blanks for her, it helps more if you encourage her to find her words. A speech therapist can help her come up with ways to improve her recollection.
Instead of trying to remember a word, your mom might find her speech therapist encouraging her to draw it out or point to a picture in a book or selection of cards. If it helps your mom communicate, even if it seems to be a childish method to you, you must support her and appreciate that your mom can effectively communicate.
Work on a Memory Book
Her speech therapist may ask you to put together a memory book. Come up with a book that shows your mom’s life in different stages to help her with memory retention skills. A book that shows her childhood with the home she grew up in and the family members and friends who were a big part of her life.
Help With Throat Control
A speech therapist helps with throat muscle control, too. Over time, the throat muscles may not work as effectively. By working on swallowing, it can help lower the risk of aspiration pneumonia.
Arrange Speech Therapy Before Your Mom’s Speech Deteriorates
Always talk to your mom’s memory care team about her current status. Often, this is measured using the MMSE. This can help estimate how much the decline has occurred between doctor’s visits. Using this as a gauge, you’ll know when speech therapy is important.
Often, your mom will start with a speech therapist early into the disease to try to retain speech skills for as long as possible. Attend these sessions when allowed as they can also help you find ways to best communicate with your mom as her speech and comprehension skills decrease.