Cognitive deficit, an inclusive term that is also used interchangeably with “cognitive impairment,” describes the different diminished areas of cognition or mental knowledge and understanding. Cognitive deficit is not limited to any particular disease or condition but may indicate someone’s underlying long or short-term health condition which could be progressive and permanent.
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is an early stage of memory loss or the loss of cognition, such as language or visual/spatial perception. MCI impacts a person’s ability to maintain independence or perform most activities of daily living and can accompany Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Symptoms of cognitive deficit include:
- Trouble remembering things — frequently asking the same question or repeating the same story again and again
- Difficulty in learning new things and concentrating
- Vision problems and trouble speaking
- Difficulty recognizing people and places with new circumstances or situations becoming overwhelming
- Confusion or agitation
- Mood changes
- Change in behavior or speech
- Difficulty performing usual daily tasks
MCI Affects Individuals with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s & Dementia
Individuals with Parkinson’s may experience MCI. Feelings of distraction or disorganization can accompany cognitive impairment, along with finding it difficult to plan and accomplish tasks. Areas affected by MCI for Parkinson’s clients include difficulty with attention, speed of mental processing, memory issues and language abnormalities that diminish quality of life.
Alzheimer’s and dementia patients often face many of the same challenges. However, researchers have found that more people with MCI than those without it go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or a related dementia. An estimated 10 to 20% of people age 65 or older with MCI develop dementia over a one-year period.
Speech Therapy Can Help
Upon a diagnosis with MCI, it is important to begin care as soon as possible to sharpen cognition. Setting up a meeting with a certified Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP), planning early speech intervention and establishing speech therapy goals helps slow progression of issues related to MCI. This improves a person’s quality of life, interpersonal and familial relationships and the impact of potentially worsening symptoms.
Speech and language therapy means not only working on speech-related issues, but also stimulating the brain so that language skills, including memory, also improve. A key goal of care is to improve current cognitive function as much as possible and to work on recovering lost functions. This involves developing coping skills in order for individuals to manage their disease as effectively as possible and addressing memory loss and other cognitive deficits.
Benefits of Virtual Speech Therapy
Most individuals with MCI (22%) are seniors and online speech therapy is especially beneficial in improving access to care. Virtual care lessens caregiver burden, stress and improves quality of life for those who prefer the familiar surroundings of home instead of traveling to brick-and-mortar setting.
Scheduling flexibility is one of the most appreciated aspects of Great Speech virtual speech therapy. SLPs have wide availability, including evenings and weekends, to accommodate busy schedules that may be strained by ongoing appointments with doctors or other treatment regimens. This is a significant relief for families and caregivers who are juggling their calendars to ensure access to care.
Another innovative feature of this approach to online speech therapy is access to the Great Speech Portal — only offered by this program: ‘synchronous’ 1:1 sessions with an SLP as well as ‘asynchronous’ sessions for the individual and caregiver to participate in “homework” sessions between visits with the speech therapist. This program attribute creates additional chances to reinforce learning and allows clients to accomplish their goals in a shorter period of time.
As a result of virtual speech therapy, individuals struggling with MCI are able to improve conversation skills and activities with friends and family — which is why we like to say, “We deliver happiness.”
If you or someone you love is experiencing communication challenges resulting from MCI, request a FREE screening by scheduling an introductory call today.