Your Loved One Is Diagnosed with Dementia, Now What?

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Thank you for our guest blogger this month, Jessie Hillock, of The Memory Compass. 

 The time following a diagnosis of a memory impairment (whether it be Alzheimer’s, dementia, primary progressive aphasia, etc.), is overwhelming with so many questions regarding the future. When researching disease progression and community resources, one valuable resource that probably will not first come to mind is a speech-language pathologist. You are probably thinking, “A speech-language pathologist? My loved one can talk just fine!” Many of us are aware of a speech-language pathologist assisting with articulation or possibly working on communication post stroke. However, another area of expertise of some speech-language pathologists with career focus in geriatrics is in treatment targeting cognitive-linguistic skills. We know that with the progression of dementia, cognitive-linguistic skills such as word finding, short term memory, sequencing, following directions, and both written and auditory comprehension decline. We also know that behaviors tend to be a characteristic of the disease progression and often times these behaviors are a form of not being able to communicate an unmet need or feeling. Speech-language pathologists are skilled in providing non-pharmacological interventions with the goal to maintain quality of life of the person with dementia for as long as possible.

Individuals coping with memory impairment often struggle with transition of environments such as going to outpatient clinics and appointments. Caregivers often experience stress when assisting their loved one to these appointments. A local speech-language pathologist, working the past 6.5 years within the skilled nursing and assisted living facility setting, was very aware of the benefit of cognitive-linguistic therapy. To alleviate the stress and in order to provide services in the most functional setting (the home), a mobile private practice was born. The Memory Compass LLC is the first in-home outpatient Memory Therapy and Family Coaching private practice of its kind in Indiana. Service offerings include Medicare Part B reimbursable speech-language pathology sessions with goals that are patient and family centered. These include providing an assessment to determine current cognitive skill level, education related to disease progression, individualized communication approaches for caregivers to utilize based on the individual’s cognitive skill level, compensatory strategies (such as visual aids or task breakdown) to decrease confusion and promote independence, environmental adaptations to promote safety, as well as development of appropriate cognitive stimulation activity to promote daily stimulation. With our services being provided in-home, we enhance care provided by other healthcare professionals (case managers, neurologists, primary care physicians, etc.)

Unfortunately, individuals with memory impairment are going to have disease progression. However, with the tools provided by The Memory Compass, the goal is to maintain quality of life and decrease caregiver burnout. Another Service offering The Memory Compass provides is private pay Family Coaching. This can be especially beneficial for family members of an individual coping with dementia who may live far away, but who would like further 1:1 education and training on appropriate communication approaches, what to expect with disease progression, environmental adaptations, and other community resources.

Families of individuals coping with memory impairment as well as other healthcare professionals may contact The Memory Compass directly to learn more about the services provided.


The Memory Compass, LLC

Zionsville, IN and surrounding communities

Phone: 317-501-7424

Fax: 317-762-7915

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