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Role of SLPs


What is the Role of SLPs with Persons with Dementia?

Persons with dementia (PWD) of all stages can benefit from the specialized skills and therapeutic interventions provided by speech-language pathologists. All forms of dementia affect communication, whether by directly reducing linguistic skills, or indirectly through impaired processes such as memory, attention, and reasoning. These difficulties are collectively termed ‘cognitive-communication disorders’.


Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) can offer a range of clinical services to support PWD, their families, and their professional care providers (e.g., nurses, personal support workers, continuing care assistants). The goals of treatment with PWD are to maintain and maximize communication so the person can function optimally in their life.


Below is a sample overview of a process of consultation with an SLP.

Father and Son

Download Shoreline's information package "Communication Intervention for People with Dementia" here.


"The Role of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists in Dementia Care"

Speech-Language & Audiology Canada

"Person-Centred Focuse on Function: Dementia"

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association



Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia

"Caring for Someone with Progressive Dementia"

Province of Nova Scotia


True North Clinical Research
provide free memory screening in Nova Scotia

Behaviour, Cognition, and Communication in Dementia

2016 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures

Alzheimer’s Association

includes the Special Report on the Personal Financial Impact of Alzheimer’s on Families

Academy of Neurologic Communication Disorders and Sciences

Cognitive Changes

National Multiple Sclerosis Society


Cognitive Issues in Parkinson’s Disease

American Parkinson Disease Association

Diffuse Lewy Body Disease

Parkinson Canada


University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program

video series for family caregivers on responding to behavioural symptoms of dementia

Cognition and MS

Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada


Alzheimer’s Society

discusses changes in language and strategies for optimizing communication

Changes in Communication


briefly describes changes in communication and strategies for care partners

"Shifting Focus – A Guide to Understanding Dementia Behaviour"

Alzheimer Knowledge Exchange, Alzheimer Society Ontario, & Behavioural Supports Ontario

available in 8 languages

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Practice Portal – Dementia

Evidence Based Clinical Research – Progressive Neurogenic Communication Disorders

Academy of Neurologic Communication Disorders and Sciences 

Spaced Retrieval Step by Step

Jeanette E. Benigas, Jennifer A. Brush, and Gail M. Elliot

published by Health Professions Press

Systematic Review and Practice Recommendations for Use of Spaced-Retrieval Training with Individuals with Dementia

Academy of Neurologic Communication Disorders and Sciences

Clinical Intervention for Cognitive-Communication Disorders of Dementia

"Best Practice Guideline for Accommodating and Managing Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia in Residential Care: A Person-Centered Interdisciplinary Approach"

Ministry of Health – British Columbia publications/year/2012/bpsd-guideline.pdf

National Institute for Health Care Excellence: Dementia

"Cognitive-Communication Disorders of Dementia: Definition, Diagnosis, and Treatment (2nd ed.)"

K. A. Bayles & C. K. Tomoeda

published by Plural Publishing

"Dementia: Person-Centred Assessment and Intervention (2nd ed.)"

E. M. Hickey & M. S. Bourgeois

Published by Routledge

Hopper, T. L. (2003). “They’re just going to get worse anyway”: Perspectives on rehabilitation for nursing home residents with dementia. Journal of Communication Disorders, 36, 345-459. doi: 10.1016/S0021-99924(03)00050-9

Oren, S., Willerton, C., & Small, J. (2014). Effects of spaced retrieval training on semantic memory in Alzheimer’s disease: A systematic review. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 57, 247-270. doi:10.1044/1092-4388

Chiu, H.-Y., Chen, P.-Y., Chen, Y.-T., & Huang, H.-C. (2018). Reality orientation therapy benefits cognition in older people with dementia: A meta-analysis. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 86, 20-28.

Eggenberger, E., Heimerl, K., & Bennett, M. I. (2013). Communication skills training in dementia care: A systematic review of effectiveness, training content, and didactic methods in different care settings. International Psychogeriatrics, 25, 345–358. doi:10.1017/S1041610212001664

Swan, K., Hopper, M., Wenke, R., Jackson, C., Till, T., & Conway, E. (2018). Speech-language pathologist interventions for communication in moderate–severe dementia: A systematic review. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 27, 836-852. doi:10.1044/2017_AJSLP-17-0043

Resources for Memory and Communication Aids

"Memory Books and Other Graphic Cueing Systems: Practical Communication and Memory Aids for Adults with Dementia"

Michelle S. Bourgeois

published by Health Professions Press

"Memory and Communication Aids for People with Dementia"

Michelle S. Bourgeois

published by Health Professions Press

Best Alzheimer’s Products

consumer source for memory aids with voice recording features (e.g., talking photo album, talking tiles)

"The Memory Handbook"

Alzheimer’s Society

information on memory, strategies, and aids for those with mild memory loss


"Funding, Coding, and Documentation for Speech Generating Devices"

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

on demand webinar for professionals


Bourgeois, M. S., Camp, C. J., Antenucci, V., & Fox, K. (2016). VoiceMyChoiceTM: Facilitating understanding of preferences of residents with dementia. Advances in Aging Research, 5, 131-141.

Activities and Engagement

"101 Activities"

Alzheimer’s Association

"Activities to do with Your Parent who has Alzheimer’s Dementia"

Judity A. Levy

Ms. Levy is an Occupational Therapist with personal and professional experience with persons with Alzheimer’s dementia

published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Alzheimer’s Store

products designed for persons with Alzheimer’s such as puzzles, therapy dolls, one button radio, simple music player, painting activities, games, and activity boards

Best Alzheimer’s Products

products for entertainment (e.g., simple music player, flipper remote control, one button radio, DVDs, Video Respite series, CDs), nurturing and comfort activities (e.g., dolls and stuffed animals), reading and photographic collections, colouring books, and other activities

"Can Do Activities for Adults with Alzheimer’s Disease: Strength-based Communication and Programming"

Eileen Eisner

published by Pro-Ed Inc.


"Creating Moments of Joy (5th ed.)"

Jolene Brackey

published by Purdue University Press



information, workshops, videos, publications, and other resources on Montessori methods for dementia

"Engaging and Communicating With People Who Have Dementia: Finding and Using Their Strengths" 

Eileen Eisner

published by Health Professions Press


Busy: The Dementia Activities Specialist

games, books, and activities for persons with dementia and professionals delivering group programs



products designed by an occupational therapist for persons with dementia for leisure and stimulation including puzzles, games, colouring books, word games, books, and lacing cards


"Montessori-Based Activities for Persons with Dementia, Volumes 1 & 2"

Cameron J. Camp

published by Health Professions Press

My House of Memories app

National Museums Liverpool and Innovate Dementia

interactive collection of images, music, and information on objects from life in England from 1920-1980 to facilitate reminiscence and exploration of areas of interest

"Taking Part: Activities for People with Dementia"

Alzheimer’s Society

Mentia, Deva World (iPad app)

Adult Literacy Resources

New Readers Press

publisher of books for English learners, including a series of easy-to-read books for pleasure reading

News for You: available from New Readers Press

subscribers have access to easy-to-read news articles; text audio can be played in full or sentence-by-sentence

News in Levels

post news stories from around the world written in three levels with the option to listen to the audio recording of the text; simplified text and audio recording of Robinson Crusoe is also available


Shadowbox Press

publisher of a collection of books for persons with dementia

Two-Lap Book series

Health Professions Press

Emma Rose Sparrow, author

series of books designed for persons with Alzheimer’s disease available through Amazon CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Hearthside Book Club (book series)


Simple Pleasures for Special Seniors, Dan Koffman (book series)

Community Resources and Online Forums for Family and Care Providers


online community forums for persons with Alzheimer’s disease and caregivers

Community Resource Finder

Alzheimer’s Association

Dementia Action Alliance Resources

collection of print and online resources such as Facebook pages, blogs, videos, websites, and books

Dementia Forum

Resources for Creating Supportive Environments and Communities

Dementia Enabling Environments

information for families, professionals, and members of the community

Dementia Friendly America

tools and resources for supporting the development of dementia-friendly communities

Dementia-friendly Environments

Department of Health & Human Services, State Government of Victoria, Australia

information on enhancing the physical and social environment, wayfinding, stimulation, meaningful activities, spirituality, and related topics


Dementia Friends USA and Dementia Friends Canada

provide information on how persons with dementia can be supported in their community

Advance Directives


"Dementia and End-of-Life Care"

Alzheimer Society of Canada


Speak Up – Advance Care Planning

a source of information for consumers, families, and professionals; includes province-specific information for Canadians


"End-of-Life Decisions"

Alzheimer’s Association

information for consumers and families

End of Life Care

"Position Statement – The Role of Speech-Language Pathologists, Audiologists and Communication Health Assistants in End-of-Life Care, Speech-Language and Audiology Canada"

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

educational resources for professionals and consumer and family resources for end-of-life care

End of Life Resources and References

\American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Developing Dementia-Friendly Health Care Services

D:KIT, Dementia Action Alliance

a self-assessment toolkit to facilitate development of dementia friendly hospitals

Dementia Friendly Hospital Initiative

educational materials for hospital staff

What’s Design Got To Do With It?

Glen Hougan (professor at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design)

Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation

an introduction to the concept of design thinking in health care services and environments

Written for Health Professionals

"Evidence Based Clinical Research: Progressive Neurogenic Communication Disorders"

Academy of Neurologic Communication Disorders and Sciences

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