The number of people living with dementia is going to increase significantly over the coming 10-20 years. The authors of this article describe the breadth of the role of speech and language therapists (SLTs) working with people with dementia. They highlight the valuable contributions SLTs can make when people are pre- or just post-diagnosis, through education, conversational support and supporting people to plan for the future. They highlight the value of personally relevant exercises to maintain language at the earliest stage in the disease process. The authors go on to describe the plethora of approaches that SLTs may take when working with people with dementia, their families and carers as the disease progresses. This includes maintaining functional communication interactions through scripts, communication aids and training and support for those around the individual with dementia. The authors highlight some of the barriers to providing these services including the lack of knowledge in the general community and among other professionals about the breadth of the SLT role. They also emphasise the need for improved training of SLTs themselves, and the problems with certain funding models that preclude the effective delivery of person-centred care. This article is a call to arms for SLTs to address many of these boundaries; to develop research in this area, to become leaders in the field and to represent the profession to a wider audience, enabling people to understand the full scope of the SLT role.

Will you still need me when I’m 64, or 84, or 104? The importance of speech-language pathologists in promoting the quality of life of aging adults in the United States into the future.
Bourgeois M, Brush J, Douglas N, et al.
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Anna Volkmer

UCL, London, UK.

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