More than Motor: A New Program for Seniors with Parkinson’s Disease

Point-of-care worker talks with a senior and other family members

Award Date: 2018

Project Lead(s): Tasneem Dharas, Operations Manager

Project Title: More than Motor: The Memory and Language Program for Seniors with Parkinson’s Disease

What is the issue?

Seniors living with Parkinson’s disease may experience memory and thinking problems that affect their ability to communicate well. As a result, their quality of life may be reduced. Current communication improvement strategies for these people tend to focus on the physical ability to speak, not cognitive ability 

What did we do?

We developed a Memory and Language Program to help people with Parkinson’s disease improve their memory and ability to communicateFirst, we tested a small-scale version that focused on speech and language goals. We refined the program based on their feedback and added activities to help solve problems that were interfering with their communication.  

Ten seniors with Parkinson’s disease and communication difficulties participated in the program. They attended five weekly sessions led by a speech-language pathologist and an occupational therapist. The sessions focused on memory strategies for communicating better. The participants also received activities to practice at home and a journal to track their progress.  

What did we find?

All participants improved their ability to communicate and found the program helpful. They felt more confident when using the new strategies