Bridging the Gap: SLP Approaches for Persons With Early Stage Dementia Philosophically different pathways and opinions exist regarding speech-language pathology services for persons living with dementia. Many believe we should be involved in leveling or staging all dementia patients and that our services are medically necessary for most diagnosed with dementia. Others deem that speech-language pathology services are not beneficial for ... Article
Article  |   April 20, 2016
Bridging the Gap: SLP Approaches for Persons With Early Stage Dementia
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Michelle Tristani
    Speech Pathology Clinical Specialist, Kindred Healthcare
    Speech Pathologist, St. Elizabeth's Medical Center
    Alzheimer's Association Helpline Counselor, Boston, MA
  • Disclosures: Financial: Michelle Tristani has no relevant financial interests to disclose.
    Disclosures: Financial: Michelle Tristani has no relevant financial interests to disclose.×
  • Nonfinancial: Michelle Tristani has no relevant nonfinancial interests to disclose.
    Nonfinancial: Michelle Tristani has no relevant nonfinancial interests to disclose.×
Article Information
Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Part 1
Article   |   April 20, 2016
Bridging the Gap: SLP Approaches for Persons With Early Stage Dementia
Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, April 2016, Vol. 1, 4-11. doi:10.1044/persp1.SIG15.4
History: Received September 4, 2015 , Revised October 14, 2015 , Accepted November 20, 2015
Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, April 2016, Vol. 1, 4-11. doi:10.1044/persp1.SIG15.4
History: Received September 4, 2015; Revised October 14, 2015; Accepted November 20, 2015

Philosophically different pathways and opinions exist regarding speech-language pathology services for persons living with dementia. Many believe we should be involved in leveling or staging all dementia patients and that our services are medically necessary for most diagnosed with dementia. Others deem that speech-language pathology services are not beneficial for this population and that we should not be involved because of the progressive nature of the disease and its resulting obstruction to learning new information. Achieving a clinically appropriate balance is needed if we are to bridge the gap between both approaches. Realization of a middle ground calls for agreement regarding criteria for cognitive evaluation, components of skilled cognitive intervention, and a framework for significant progress. Once consensus is achieved for these preliminary elements, speech-language pathologists will be in a better position to: develop functional, reasonable, and necessary cognitive treatment procedures; formulate objective, measurable, and individualized goals; and prioritize safety, communication, and quality of life within cognitive management pathways for all stages of dementia. The early stage dementia diagnosis presents unique challenges and opportunities for speech-language pathologists. We begin here in reducing the gap in our cognitive approaches for the dementia population.

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