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3.13 Use therapies to help people maintain independence

Speech therapy and occupational therapy can help people with dementia

Speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists can help people with dementia to maintain their independence and go about their daily life. As a care partner, it is important to know about what services are available too!

Speech therapy

Speech therapy is delivered by trained healthcare professionals known as speech language pathologists who help with a person’s ability to communicate. Speech therapy doesn’t just help with speaking (e.g., pronunciation), but with all aspects of communication including expressing yourself and understanding others. Speech language pathologists can help with word-finding difficulties, when you have trouble telling a story, or following a conversation. 

They may work with your family and friends to improve two-way communication.  

There is growing research on the benefits of speech-language therapy to improve the communication of people with dementia. 

Occupational therapy

Occupational therapy is delivered by trained professionals known as occupational therapists who help people manage their everyday activities. For example, they might help a person practice taking public transportation, so that they are confident and safe getting to places on their own. They might help the person practice walking safely with a cane outside the house, and practice carrying their purchases home afterwards. They might also help people use their smartphone for navigation using a map app, or to call a driver using a rideshare app. 

Research studies consistently show that occupational therapy helps people with dementia keep doing things that are important to them and delays the need to go into a nursing home. 

  • Learn more about how occupational therapists help people here.
  • You can search for an occupational therapist in your area here.

Ask your doctor

  • Talk to your doctor about speech-language or occupational therapy, and whether it could help the person with dementia.