Caring for Seniors with Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA)

Everyone who lives with dementia experiences the disease differently. One possible symptom is primary progressive aphasia, Aphasia refers to a group of neurological disorders that impact a person’s ability to read, write and speak; over 2 million Americas suffer from some form of aphasia.

Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) is a type of aphasia caused by dementia or Alzheimer’s.

The onset of PPA is slow, starting with subtle difficulties speaking and processing language. The early stages are nearly undetectable to all but those who know the person best and can see the difference between their current speech and previous abilities.

As PPD progresses, the individual gradually experiences increasing difficulty finding words, naming people and objects, and articulating themselves in general. In the later stages, they may lose the ability to speak altogether.

What Does Primary Progressive Aphasia Look Like?

Emily Page, author of the book Fractured Memories, had the foresight to begin interviewing her father annually after he was diagnosed with PPA. Her videos provide an instructive view of how the disorder progresses over time.

The first video interview, filmed in 2012, shows a person who is clearly effected by the symptoms but still able to converse fluidly. One year later, his ability to answer the same questions has declined, though he is still able to joke around. The following year shows a greater decline, and the final interview clearly demonstrates the final stages of primary progressive aphasia.

Though sad at times, these videos are useful to anyone preparing to care for a senior who has been diagnosed with PPA. They show how a person’s ability to care for themselves declines with the increasing struggle of speech, and how that person’s family members can continue to support them throughout the course of the disorder.

Caring for Seniors with Primary Progressive Aphasia

There is no cure for PPA, and thus anyone diagnosed will continue to lose their ability to speak, read and write. Eventually, that person will struggle to live by themselves and require greater care in their day to day lives.

There are two main options for seniors living with PPA: moving to a care home for individuals with dementia, or living with family members who care for them. Home care organizations like Right at Home Canada can provide supplementary care in situations where a person with PPA is cared for by their family. In many franchise locations, Right at Home Canada offers care programs specific to individuals with different forms of dementia.

For more information about primary progressive aphasia, visit aphasia.org, a website run by the National Aphasia Association that contains resources for people living with aphasia, caregivers, and professionals.