There are five A symptoms seen with patients with Alzheimer's disease: Anomia, Apraxia, Agnosia, Amnesia, and Aphasia. This is part one of five about these symptoms and discusses Anomia.
Anomia - A Misfire in Communication Ability with Dementia
Anomia means just what you might think - 'without name' and is a difficulty in communication.
It can also be thought of that "Tip of the Tongue" phenomena, when that word you are searching for eludes you. For a healthy person, the word will eventually come to you. But for the person with dementia, that word usually does not come, as the brain message misfires. The cause is damage to the left hemisphere of the brain, where the language controls are. An example of anomia is a person who is starting to wash dishes and is looking for the dish soap, but cannot think of the right word for that object.
Instead of "Where is the dish soap?", you might hear "Where is the...um...um... wash?"
The person knows what item they need and have the right idea of what that item does (i.e. wash) but just cannot find the correct word. Instead the person substitutes the closest they come up with, by asking for the "wash".
It can be like listening to a person speaking halted English or a young toddler who only knows some of the right words, leaving you to fill in the blanks. In all situations, in can be very frustrating for the person trying to communicate something but coming up short.
So how can caregivers around the person help? Try these tips to help solve the struggles of anomia.
- Understand the person will have moments like this and be patient. Give the person time - sometimes the right word will come, especially if the person is not feeling pressured.
- If the person is obviously not finding the right word, help them out. Watch the gestures they might be using. For the example above, the person might be pointing at the sink of dishes.
- If you have asked a question, such as "What do you want for a snack?" and the person cannot find the right word, open the cupboard and show the choices so the person can point at it.
- If you know the person struggles with anomia, do not ask open-ended questions but instead give 2 or 3 choices. For the example above, try:
Get More Tips for Communication with the Person with Dementia