Is Speech Therapy a Waste of Time?

Is Speech Therapy a Waste of Time?

Many doctors recommend speech or occupational therapy when someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Patients may fight it – but is it a waste of time?

If your loved one has begun speech therapy but is resistant to it, it would be advisable to talk to her doctor about the benefits and also sit down with the speech therapist to discuss in detail what therapy is doing for her. Therapists typically have a care plan, which consists of a goal and steps to meet that goal. The attending doctor is also involved with that process, because he or she is the one who wrote the order for skilled services.

Speech therapy does a lot more than many of us realize. These therapists not only assist individuals with speech difficulties but also with swallowing issues. As the disease progresses, swallowing can become difficult and sometimes life-threatening. If your loved one can’t swallow, she might choke and die. Speech therapists assess this serious situation and respond as needed. Many times they conduct a swallowing test on the person with dementia through X-rays. Test results are used to create a plan of action. A person with dementia probably wouldn’t understand this.

Ask your loved one’s doctor to explain to her the seriousness of the situation. That way, when she complains about going to speech therapy, you can back up the doctor, because you have become more educated and knowledgeable about the reason for speech therapy.


William Hammond

William G. Hammond, J.D., is the founder and owner of the Elder and Disability Law Firm, P.A., in Overland Park, Kansas. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame (B.A. Govt. 1977) and the University of Notre Dame Law School (J.D. 1980). Mr. Hammond, licensed to practice law in Kansas and Missouri, is an author and lecturer. He is co-author of The Kansas and Missouri Nursing Home Guide and the Alzheimer's Legal Survival Guide. He also writes Elder Law Today, a monthly publication for professionals. Mr. Hammond lectures frequently on Elder Law issues as well as on the legal issues faced by families who have a loved one with Alzheimer's. He is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. He and his wife, Mary, live in Olathe, Kansas, with their five children, Danny, Katie, Laura, Matt and Molly.

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