Memory loss is one of the more well-known symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. However, there are many other abilities and skills that become impaired as well. People who have dementia experience changes in the brain’s temporal lobe and it affects their ability to process language. Even in the early stages of the disease, caregivers will be able to notice a decline in formal language, which people rely on to communicate verbally. Some of these symptoms include confusion during the conversation, word loss, decreased speech and not being able to follow a storyline. Read on to learn more about Alzheimer’s Disease and speech impairment!
Loss of Words
As a child begins learning a new language, nouns are kept in the left side of the temporal lobe. When dementia starts, it begins in this region of the brain. Therefore, it is common for people to start using the wrong word, even for simple objects. They might even forget the name of a familiar person. When this happens, a caregiver should respond with curiosity and compassion. As the disease progresses, formal language disappears. The person living with Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia is left with little ability to communicate their needs. He may stop talking or rely on non-verbal cues such as emotional and facial expressions.
Behavior as Communication
Sometimes, behaviors are the only way to communicate what the person wants or needs. These are dementia-related behaviors and they are messages about feelings, ideas, and needs. For example, a caregiver who provides personal care too fast will cause frustration for someone with dementia as he can’t process what is happening. This can lead to anger, resistance, and even aggression. All this can be prevented if the caregiver understands the needs of the individual, which is to go slower.
The Silver Lining
Thankfully, the brain’s temporal lobe is two-sided. The right side remains intact while the left side deteriorates. This usually happens at the end of the dementia journey. The right side of the temporal lobe enables a person to toe-tap to the rhythm of music, engage in basic social talk, clap and even dance. A person living with dementia will find great joy and comfort in listening to their favorite music or singing along to old songs. Some of them even retain the ability to recite favorite poems or scriptures, word for word. And this can happen even in those who are otherwise non-verbal. Caregivers and loved ones can learn new ways to interact with people with dementia by engaging in activities that make use of the right side of the temporal lobe.
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