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Preventing Language Decline in Dementia 

Principal Investigator:
  • Regina Jokel, Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care
  • Alzheimer's Association

Project Overview

Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) is a form of dementia which impairs the ability to understand spoken and written language but other cognitive skills (including memory) remain intact for several years after its onset. Ideally, interventions to improve communication abilities in people with PPA would begin during the earliest stages when they can have the maximum benefit for increasing independence and quality of life. Unfortunately, communication therapies are not widely available to people with PPA due to how quickly the disease progresses and lack of research and guidelines on how best to treat these symptoms. Regina Jokel, Ph.D., and colleagues propose to use a unique approach focused on improving everyday communication to help people with PPA maintain language skills. The group-based therapy will focus on helping participants to relearn forgotten words and maintain them through social interaction. The researchers hypothesize that practicing in a group setting (as opposed to individual therapy) will help people with PPA hold onto communication skills longer which will, in turn, foster independence and improve quality of life. This novel group-based intervention will address language decline and quality of life in people with PPA. If successful, this type of intervention could be shared with researchers and physicians who treat people with PPA to help preserve communication abilities and independence for as long as possible.