When someone starts talking, we do not understand at all what the hidden process is in extracting sounds, words and sentences. It is so normal for us to speak that it seems easy to turn our thoughts into semantic expressions. We do not even think about this very complicated and, of course, interesting subject. Of course, when we travel to a foreign country or when we are going to see a foreign film, we realize how complex and important it is to understand the language. The ability to convey the meaning in mind to others is as complex, fascinating, and important as understanding what they are saying. In this article, we discuss the function of language and the degradation of this function in old age due to dementia.
Difficulty understanding language and speech
1. Hearing loss
The first step to understanding the language and professions of others is to use the ear. Hearing loss or hearing loss is one of the defects that increases with age. With age, more mass forms in the ear canal and has a negative effect on hearing. General practitioners or their assistants can easily remove these masses by rinsing the ear. Ear infections can also damage and irritate the eardrum and other parts of the middle ear. If the ear infection is not treated quickly, there is a possibility of permanent damage to the ear components.
One of the major causes of deafness in old age, Sensory hearing loss Is. This problem is caused by damage or damage to the inner ear and the nerves in the ear that are responsible for transmitting auditory signals to the brain. Using a hearing aid eliminates this problem.
The link between forgetfulness and hearing problems
Now the question is, if a person does not have the ability to remember and on the other hand has a hearing problem, will it be possible to make a connection between hearing loss and forgetfulness?
If a person is forgetful and you have doubts about their hearing, you should definitely check their hearing ability. If he does not remember the words and you want to see if this problem is rooted in his hearing loss, after you have said the sentence, you should ask him to repeat it again. It also helps the person to remember and recall. After this examination, if necessary, provide a hearing aid for him.
Now, what if someone uses a hearing aid but still does not understand what others are saying? As dementia progresses, most people lose the ability to understand language and speech due to damage to the temporal lobe. In order to be able to talk to these people, we need to use simpler words and sentences. The tone of voice, facial expressions and body movements help us in this regard and allow a better communication to be formed and our meaning to be conveyed more easily to the patient.
2. Defects in the temporal lobe
After we hear the words clearly and correctly, the outer and lower part of the temporal lobe comes into action. The job of this section is to unravel and decipher the meaning of the words for the brain. The temporal lobe is located next to the temples and just behind the eyes. This part of the brain, in addition to understanding words, also has the ability to understand and classify people and what they say and hear.
The temporal lobe is categorized: individuals and related information are located in the frontal lobe of the brain (e.g., Maryam: University friend; Shahrzad: Office colleague; Niloufar: Child friend); Animal information is in the middle of the temporal lobe (lion: zoo animal, chicken: farm animal, cat: pet); Object-related information is available in the back of the temporal lobe (chair: furniture; ball: sports equipment; shoulder: toilet / cosmetics). This form of information storage in the brain allows us to create a treasure trove and database of words and use them in speaking.
In the left temporal lobe, titles and letters are stored. In the right lobe, attributes attributed to those letters are stored, such as vocabulary, size, lightness, or other features, such as softness and hardness. Therefore, if there is a defect or problem in either of these two parts of the temporal lobe, it becomes difficult for us to understand the language and to speak and use the language.
Right temporal lobe and help control emotions and nonverbal communication
Pay attention to the following sentences. We can say the same thing with different emotions and in different forms:
- Simple sentence: he went to the store.
- Question sentence: Did he go to the store?
- Surprise sentence: He went to the store!
These three sentences are made of similar components but have different shapes. Changing the meaning of similar sentences is possible with the help of the right temporal lobe. This part of the brain knows people and things, but instead of understanding who they are or what they are, it understands how we feel about them. For example, by seeing a person or object, it examines whether we like it, are curious about it, or find it annoying; At the same time, as mentioned, the characteristics of people and objects are also identified in this part of the brain.
Loss and destruction of the meaning of words and objects in dementia
As mentioned earlier, the temporal lobe on the left side of the brain is responsible for storing words related to objects and people, and the right lobe stores the properties and quality of objects and people that are remembered well. Obviously, by damaging the temporal lobes of the brain due to dementia, access to this information is lost.
Therefore, it is not only difficult to remember the names of people and objects, but also to understand their characteristics, ie their nature, quality and use. These problems can occur at all levels of dementia, but are more common in the middle and late stages of the disease.
3. Defects in the frontal lobe
The forehead loop is responsible for making the necessary arrangements for speaking. This part of the brain first selects the idea and content to be spoken, and then communicates between these ideas and the content and words in the temporal lobe. Finally, part of the left temporal lobe converts words into sounds and uses them in the correct grammatical arrangement; That is, it follows the grammatical rules of the language for the use of words. Therefore, by creating a defect in the frontal lobe, the brain will be unable to convert meaning into words and sentences with a specific grammatical style.
Common difficulty finding words at different levels of dementia
Finding words to speak is very common in people with dementia. There is a problem even in people who are in the middle levels of the disease. As people get older, they often have trouble remembering people’s names, places, books, movies, and specific names in general. This is common to all words in patients with dementia, and the normal words used in speech may be forgotten.
Patients with this condition also have difficulty using the right words. For example, they can not choose the right words for their purpose (instead of roses, they say red flowers) or they have to think for a while to reach the desired word. The relatives of these people usually come in while talking to them and help them find the right words.
Damage to the right and left temporal lobes, and the frontal lobe of the brain, and loss of effective communication between the two are very common in dementia. It is also somewhat difficult for normal and healthy people to find the right words to express the meaning. This is why when we get sick, tired, or in general our condition is not as good as it should be, we have trouble finding the perfect words to speak. Now, consider how much more difficult this forgetfulness and difficulty in choosing words is for patients with dementia.
The link between dementia and body language
Is there a connection between body language, communication and dementia? Problems with speaking and speaking are rooted in problems controlling the vocal cords. Speaking is the result of cooperation and communication between the tongue, vocal cords, mouth and lips. When dementia destroys part of the frontal lobe (the part that transmits or communicates communication signals to the vocal cords), words and sentences become difficult to pronounce.
Strokes are the most common disorder that destroys this part of the brain. As a result, speech and language disorders are more likely to occur in vascular dementia, which is caused by a stroke. Of course, various neurological problems and disorders can cause speech problems. Fatigue, illness, or alcohol consumption can also cause such problems.
Understanding non-verbal and non-verbal communication in patients with dementia
Emotions and other dimensions of non-verbal communication often persist in moderate to severe dementia. Therefore, even if your loved ones who have this problem do not notice your words, they still understand your kindness in words, they understand the joy of your smile and they notice the hidden feeling in your caresses.
There is also this understanding of emotions and body language about negative reactions. This means that if there is anger, fear and sadness in your words and behavior, patients with dementia can recognize these feelings in you. In fact, the sensation is transmitted to the patient through body language, facial expressions and tone of voice.
This is also true when communicating with someone who does not know your language. Therefore, in such communications, you should be careful about the tone of your voice and body language. With this in mind, it will be easier and more possible to better convey what you mean to the other side.
Other causes of speech impairment in people with dementia
If a person with dementia is able to utter words and sentences in a state of fatigue (provided they do not drink alcohol and are not drunk), what is the problem?
Many types of dementia, including vascular dementia, can cause difficulty speaking. Of course, there are other reasons for this. For example, taking some medications has side effects such as difficulty speaking. In any case, after seeing such a thing in your loved one, be sure to take him to the doctor.
If this speech problem occurs suddenly while the person is talking or after waking up, he / she should talk to a doctor or emergency medical center immediately; Because this change in speech may have been caused by a stroke.