What is "dementia"?

Characteristics of dementia include issues related to loss of memory and loss of cognitive ability. Dementia is progressive for the majority of people who have it.

Alzheimer’s disease is a highly researched type of dementia. The majority of individuals who are diagnosed with dementia have this type.

Depending on the diagnosis, the characteristics exhibited can vary for people with dementia. Despite this variation, individuals with dementia will typically all have a gradual loss of skills. Daily activities that are needed to live independently may be challenging for people with dementia, and become more challenging over time. These deficits may be seen with communication skills, swallowing, personality (changes), ability to follow directions, and ability to complete activities of daily living independently.

Therapy Benefits include:
A speech-language pathologist (SLP) uses strategies to preserve communication and cognitive functioning for as long as possible, including using written cues to increase memory recall, developing memory logs or books, and training staff and family members how to best communicate with individuals with dementia. A speech therapist may also play an important role in ensuring safe swallowing precautions and proper diet to reduce the risk of aspiration or choking.


  • Make communication concrete and break down in to simple points
  • repeat key information to help maintain focus
  • provide closed-ended questions to help with decision making (e.g., "Would you like orange juice or cranberry juice?" instead of "What do you want to drink?")
  • Pair verbal information with written cues for activities of daily living (such as how to get ready for the day or how to use the telephone)
  • Use written calendars to remind the person about appointments or to take medications
  • Attend local support groups to learn about how others cope with the stresses of caring for someone with dementia