My mom thinks, after a few sessions, that her doctor-ordered speech therapy is a waste of time. Should we put up with the stress of forcing her to do this if she doesn’t want to? | Chicago Long-Term Care Planning Attorney Anthony B. Ferraro

You better go talk to the physician involved before you assert yourself here. Also, discuss this with the speech therapist to find out what type of therapy work your mother is undertaking. The therapist should have her individualized care plan available to discuss. It should include a goal and various steps for meeting it.

Speech therapy does a lot more than most people realize. It is not just about talking more clearly. Some of the most important work may have to do with swallowing issues, which can be quite dangerous if not addressed appropriately. As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, for example, swallowing becomes more difficult, sometimes to the point of being life-threatening. Choking is a big concern.

Speech therapists can assess such situations and apply therapies as needed. Rather than just having a person form sounds and letters, speech therapists also conduct swallowing tests on people with dementia — sometimes with the use of X-rays. These can help form care plans. It is easy to see why an Alzheimer’s patient might not understand all of this.

You probably will want your mother’s doctor to explain the seriousness of the situation to her, and why the speech therapy is needed. Then, if your mother complains in the future, you can rely on the authority of the doctor. You also will both be more knowledgeable and familiar with the reasons for speech therapy.  For more information from the Alzheimer’s Resource Kit, click here.