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Changes in Speech May Reveal Early Signs of Alzheimer’s

Written by OurParents Staff
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2 minute readLast updated February 12, 2024

A study published in Bioengineering (Basel) noted that changes in speech may reveal early signs of Alzheimer’s or other cognitive diseases. Researchers observed that speech and language impairments, such as difficulties in finding words, decreased verbal fluency, and changes in speech patterns are among the earliest signs of cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease. The study’s authors are hopeful that tracking Alzheimer’s speech patterns could play a crucial role in detecting dementia early, ultimately leading to more treatment methods and a greater understanding of the disease.

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The way you talk might reveal early signs of Alzheimer's

One of the initial signs of Alzheimer’s that often goes unnoticed is a change in how someone communicates. They may have difficulty finding appropriate words, their speech may lose its usual flow, or you might notice a shift in their typical language patterns. The study, “Speech- and Language-Based Classification of Alzheimer’s Disease: A Systematic Review,” delves into this phenomenon.[01]
Conducted over five years (from 2015 to 2020), it thoroughly examines the link between speech and early signs of Alzheimer’s. This comprehensive review sheds light on the subtle yet telling alterations in speech that can signal the onset of Alzheimer’s. It also provided the necessary insights for early detection and intervention and looked at how to communicate with someone who has dementia.

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One major discovery from this research is that certain ways of speaking are intrinsically linked to Alzheimer’s. For example, your loved one might pause more when they talk or use simpler language than before. This happens because Alzheimer’s affects how the brain processes language. There are several diseases linked to communication disorders, which makes early detection and prevention of Alzheimer’s even more important.
The study also found that computer programs, especially machine learning algorithms, are swift and accurate when noticing these changes in speech. Some of these programs, like Support Vector Machines (SVM) and Artificial Neural Networks (ANN), show promise in pinpointing the speech of healthy people from those with Alzheimer’s.
In short, this review shows that looking at how people talk could be a new way to spot Alzheimer’s early. It’s a method that’s less invasive and more affordable, and it could lead to catching the disease’s impacts sooner.

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Using speech analysis to detect early signs of Alzheimer’s

Nearly 5.8 million people living in the United States have dementia.[02] With no cure in sight, doctors hope that early detection, using methods like speech analysis, will lead to earlier treatments and a better understanding of normal aging versus dementia.
Researchers cannot estimate how much a test would cost for a single patient, but it would be relatively inexpensive. A doctor only needs a digital tape recorder and a computer program to analyze the results. Maria Carrillo, chief science officer at the Alzheimer’s Association, says that family doctors “can do a lot to help us if they knew what to look for.”
As we learn more about the early signs of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia through research, it becomes increasingly important to plan ahead for our loved ones’ care. If your parent is showing signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s and you’re finding it challenging to provide the care they need, it may be time to consider memory care or assisted living communities. Contact a Senior Care Advisor who can help you understand your options and find a solution that best meets your loved one’s individual needs.


  1. Vigo, I., Coelho, L., & Reis, S. (2022, January 11). Speech- and Language-Based Classification of Alzheimer’s Disease: A Systematic Review. Bioengineering.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, October 26). Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias.

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