This page is a printable version of: https://www.iow.nhs.uk/news/Supporting-those-caring-for-loved-ones-with-Dementia
Date: 28 September 2021
As part of marking this year’s Dementia Action Week (17 to 23 May), the Isle of Wight NHS Trust’s Speech and Language Therapy team are sharing helpful guidance on communicating with people with dementia and feeding tips for those with swallowing difficulties.
Dementia, which effects over 670,000 people in England, is an umbrella term used to describe a range of symptoms associated with damage to the brain. Dementia may affect a person's ability to speak clearly and fluently because of changes to the muscles that allow us to form sounds and some people might have difficulty understanding and using words and sentences, this is called dysphasia.
Stephanie Brett, Speech and Language Therapist said:
“If someone you care about has dementia, then adapting how you communicate will have many benefits, including being able to better understand the needs of the person you care about. A few small changes can make a big difference. You could try to use short, clear sentences, sticking to one subject at a time and repeating back what the person has said to you to double check its meaning with them."
Some people with dementia also struggle with swallowing difficulties. Difficulties in swallowing may arise from a number of medical causes. In dementia they may be caused by damage to parts of the brain that co-ordinate the muscles responsible for swallowing.
Speech and language therapists assess problems with swallowing and communication and they can offer support through various exercises such as repeating words, naming items in pictures and showing patients techniques that strengthen the muscles of the mouth, dietary advice and changes to medication.
Katherine Willing, Speech and Language Therapist said:
"Some people also have difficulties with swallowing which impact on people’s ability to socialise and can lead to physical problems such as choking and food going into the lungs.W e can assess the extent of these difficulties using a variety of swallow tests, and there are minor changes that families and carers can make to help improve eating and swallowing for someone with dyshphagia."
Amy Cogan, Speech and Language Therapist added:
"Providing support and advice to families and carers is extremely rewarding and even the smallest change can make a huge difference. In light of this we have created these short videos to show families and carers some simple methods to facilitate better communication and to make mealtimes safer and more enjoyable "
The videos produced by our Speech and Language Therapy team and provide guidance and tips on:
Tips on feeding someone with Dysphagia (Swallowing Difficulties)
Guidance on how to improve communication with people living with Dementia: