Dementia involves a general deterioration of memory, communication and reasoning which leads to increasing difficulty in carrying out the activities of everyday life. There is also a high incidence of eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties associated with dementia. The need for access to specialist dementia care, including services such as Speech & Language Therapy, is recommended by charities such as the Alzheimer's Society and in the NICE guidelines for dementia. Early intervention is advised.
You may find that you:
- have difficulty remembering the names of things; people, places and objects
- struggle to understand what people say to you
- cannot follow television or radio programmes
- forget what people have told you
- struggle to understand what you read in letters, newspapers, books
- are slow to make a response
- talk a lot but what you say is no longer that meaningful
- lose track of what you are saying
- repeat yourself without realising
- become very frustrated
- find it difficult to write
- avoid social situations through embarrassment or fear
- become insensitive to other people's communication or misread humour and sarcasm
- have difficulties eating, chewing, drinking and swallowing. Food or drink may 'go down the wrong way' and you cough or choke
- have frequent chest infections.
Our Speech & Language Therapy can help by:
- Assessing your communication difficulties and in some cases, contributing to the early diagnosis of dementia.
- Explaining the diagnosis to you and your family to reduce the levels of frustration.
- Providing training for people you see on a regular basis about ways to communicate with you and how to make these interactions more effective.
- Finding strategies which are acceptable to you to help your communication in everyday life.
- Advising on memory prompts (diaries, calendars, audible prompts) and low-tech communication aids which may assist your current communication.
- Monitoring changes over time and reviewing the strategies in use to ensure that your communication needs are being met in the best way.
- Anticipating your future needs as your condition progresses.
- Supporting you and your family when you need it with a flexible service which you can access quickly when changes occur.
- Helping you to communicate those things which are most important to you whilst you are able to.
- Assessing and managing any problems with eating, drinking or swallowing so that you are able to do these safely with a reduced risk of chest infections.