Here you will find a summary of evidence and research relating to dementia and the role of speech and language therapy.

Visit the RCSLT Research Centre for information and resources to support your evidence-based practice, ways to enhance your continuing professional development (CPD), information about clinical academic careers, resources to help you get involved in research and much more.

Please contact us if you have any suggestions or feedback on these pages.

Finding evidence

Access research articles through our RCSLT Journals Collection and more resources to support using evidence-based practice in our Research Centre.

ASHA Evidence Maps

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has collated recent research by clinical area or condition. This includes external scientific evidence, clinical expertise and client perspectives.

ASHA Evidence Map: Dementia

Systematic reviews

Carthery-Goulart, M.T., Silveira, A., Machado, T. H., Mansur, L. L., Parente, M. A. M. P., Senaha, M. L. H. et al. (2013). Nonpharmacological interventions for cognitive impairments following primary progressive aphasia: a systematic review of the literature. Dementia and Neuropsychologia, 7(1), 122-131.

Egan, M., Berube., D., Racine, G., Leonard, C. & Rochon, E. (2010).Methods to enhance verbal communication between individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease and their formal and informal caregivers: a systematic review. International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, vol. 2010. Article ID 906818.

Eggenberger, E., Heimerl, K. & Bennett, M. I. (2013). Communication skills training in dementia care: a systematic review of effectiveness, training content, and didactic methods in different care settings. International Psychogeriatrics, 25 (3), 345-258.

Jones, C., Tudor Edwards, R. & Hounsome, B. (2012). A systematic review of the cost-effectiveness of interventions for supporting informal caregivers of people with dementia residing in the community. International Psychogeriatrics, 24 (1), 6-18.

Kong, E., Evans, L. K. & Guevara, J. P. (2009). Nonpharmalogical intervention for agitation in dementia: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Aging & Mental Health, 13 (4), 512-520.

Selwood, A., Johnston, K., Katona, C., Lyketsos, C. & Livingston, G. (2007). Systematic review of the effect of psychological interventions on family caregivers of people with dementia. Journal of Affective Disorders, 101(1-3),75-89.

Thompson, C.A., Spilsbury, K., Hall, J., Birks, Y., Barnes, C. & Adamson, J. (2007). Systematic review of information and support interventions for caregivers of people with dementia. BMC Geriatrics, 7(18), doi:10.1186/1471-2318-7-18.

Cochrane Reviews

Cochrane Reviews are systematic reviews of primary research in human health care and health policy, internationally recognised as the highest standard in evidence-based health care. Search the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

Flynn, E.P. Smith, C.H ., Walsh ,C. D., Walshe, M. (2014). Modifying the consistency of food and fluids for swallowing difficulties in dementia (Protocol). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Issue 4, CD011077.

Sampson, E. L., Candy, B. & Jones, L. (2009). Enteral tube feeding for older people with advanced dementia. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Issue 2, CD007209.

Vernooij-Dassen M., Draskovic, I., McCleery, J. &  Downs, M. (2011). Cognitive reframing for carers of people with dementia (Review). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Issue 11,. CD005318.

Journal articles

Azuma, T. & Bayles, K.A. (1997). Memory impairments underlying language difficulties in dementia. Topics in Language Disorders, 18 (1), 58-64.

Bayles, K., Kim, E., Chapman, S., Zientz, J., A., Rackley, A., Mahendra, N., Hopper, T., & Cleary S. (2006). Evidence-based practice recommendations for working with individuals with dementia: Simulated presence therapy. Journal of Medical Speech-Language Pathology, 14(3), xiii-xxi.

Biernacki, C. & Barratt J. (2001). Improving the nutritional status of people with dementia. British Journal of Nursing, 10, 1104-1114.

Braun, M. Mura, K., Peter- wight, M., Hornung, R. & Scholz, U. (2010). Toward a better understanding of psychological well-being in dementia caregivers: the link between marital communication and depression. Family Process, 49 (2), 185-203.

Challis, D., Reilly, S., Hughes, J., Burns, A., Gilchrist, H. & Wilson, K. (2002). Policy, organisation and practice of specialist old age psychiatry in England. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 17, 1018-1026.

Clare, L. and Woods, B. (2001). A role for cognitive rehabilitation in dementia care. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, 11 (3-4), 193-196.

Comas-Herrera A., Wittenberg, R., Pickard, L. & Knapp, M. (2007). Cognitive impairment in older people: future demand for long-term care services and the associated costs’. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 22 (10), 1037–45. 

Gallagher-Thompson, D. & Coon, D.W. (2007). Evidence-based psychological treatments for distress in family caregivers of older adults. Psychology and Aging, 22(1), 37-51.

Gorno-Tempini, M.L., Hillis, A. E., Weintraub, S., Kertez, A., Mendez, M., Cappa, S. F., Ogar, J. M., Rohrer, J. D., Black, S., Boeve, B. et al, (2011). Classification of primary progressive aphasia and its variants. Neurology, 76, 1006-1014.

Gorska, S., Forsyth, K., Irvine, L., Maciever, D., Prior, S., Whitehead, J., Flochart, J., Fairnie, J. & Reid, J. (2013). Service-related needs of older people with dementia: perspectives of service users and their unpaid carers. International Psychogeriatrics, 25(7), 1107-1114.

Hopper, T., Mahendra, N., Kim, E., Azuma, T., Bayles, K., Cleary, S., & Tomoeda, C. (2005). Evidence-based practice recommendations for working with individuals with dementia: Spaced-retrieval training. Journal of Medical Speech-Language Pathology, 13(4), xxvii-xxxiv. 

Kim, E., Cleary, S., Hopper, T., Bayles, K., Mahendra, N., Azuma, T., & Rackley, A. (2006). Evidence-based practice recommendations for working with individuals with dementia: Group reminiscence therapy. Journal of Medical Speech-Language Pathology, 14(3), xxiii-xxxiv.

Le Dorze, G., Julien, M., Genereux., S., Larfeuil, C., Navennec, C., Laporte, D. & Champagne, C. (2000). The development of a procedure for the evaluation of communication occurring between residents in long-term care and their caregivers. Aphasiology, 14(1), 17-51.

Logemann, J.A., Gensler, G., Robbins, J., Lindblad, A. S., Brandt, D., Hind, J. A., Kosek, S., Dikeman, K., Kazandigian, M., Gramigna, G. D. et al, (2008). A randomised study of three interventions for aspiration of thin liquids in patients with dementia or Parkinson's Disease. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 51, 173-183.

Mahendra, N., Hopper, T., Bayles, K., Azuma, T., Cleary S., & Kim E. (2006). Evidence-based practice recommendations for working with individuals with dementia: Montessori-based interventions. Journal of Medical Speech-Language Pathology, 14(1), xv-xxv.

Mahendra, N., Kim, E., Bayles, K., Hopper, T., & Azuma, T. (2006)Evidence-based practice recommendations for working with individuals with dementia: Computer-assisted cognitive interventions (CACIs). Journal of Medical Speech-Language Pathology, 13(4), xxxv-xliv. 

Marin, D.B., Dugue, M., Schmeidler, J., Santoro, J., Neugroschl, J., Zaklad, G., Brickman, A., Schnur, E., Hoblyn, J. & Davis, K. L. (2000). The Caregiver Activity Survey (CAS): longitudinal validation of an instrument that measures time spent caregiving for individual with Alzheimer’s Disease. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 15(8), 680-686.

Matthews, F.E. et al, (2013). A two-decade comparison of prevalence of dementia in individuals aged 65 years and older from three geographical areas of England: results of the Cognitive Function and Ageing Study I and II. Lancet, 382(9902), 1405-1412.

Maxim, J., Arthur, A., Branes, L. E., Bond, J., Jagger, C., Robinson, L. & Brayne, C. (2001). Speech and language therapists as trainers: enabling care staff working with older people. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 36(S1), 194-199.

Murphy, J. and Oliver, T. (2013). The use of Talking Mats to support people with dementia and their carers to make decisions together. Health and Social Care in the Community, 21(2), 171-180.

Nolan, M. Ingram, P. and Watson, R. (2002). Working with family carers of people with dementia. Dementia, 1(1), 75-93. 

Orange, J.B. and Bouchard Ryan, E. (2000). Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias: implications for physician communication. Clinics in Geriatric Medicine, 16, 153-173. 

Searson, R., Hendry, A. M., Ramachandran, R., Burns, A. & Purandare, N. (2008). Activities enjoyed by patients with dementia together with their spouses and psychological morbidity in carers. Aging and Mental Health, 12(2), 276-282.

Smith, H.A., Kindell, J., Baldwin, R. C., Waterman, D. & Makin, A. J. (2009). Swallowing problems and dementia in acute hospital settings: practical guidance for the management of dysphagia. Clinical Medicine, 9(6), 544–8.

Stach, C.B. (2000). Vascular dementia and dysphagia. Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation, 7(3), 1-1

Wang, S., Fukagawa, N., Hossain, M. & Ooi, W. L. (1998). Longitudinal weight changes, length of survival and energy requirements of long term care residents with dementia. Journal of the American Geriatric Society, 45(10), 189-95.

Zientz, J., Rackley, A., Chapman, S., Hopper, T., Mahendra, N., & Cleary, S. (2007). Evidence-based practice recommendations: Caregiver-administered active cognitive stimulation for individuals with Alzheimer's disease. Journal of Medical Speech-Language Pathology, 15(3), xxvii-xxxiv.

Zientz, J., Rackley, A., Chapman, S., Hopper, T., Mahendra, N., Kim, E., & Cleary, S. (2007). Evidence-based practice recommendations: Educating caregivers on Alzheimer’s disease and training communication strategies. Journal of Medical Speech-Language Pathology, 15(1), pp. liii-lxiv.

Ask the experts 

Enderby, P. (2015). Ask The Experts: 'What is the impact on the individual with dementia and their carer and the multidisciplinary team when an SLT is involved in early assessment and diagnosis?’ Bulletin, November 2015 22-23.

Research impact case studies

Find a full list of case studies relevant to speech and language therapy in our Research Centre.

Research priorities

The RCSLT, in collaboration with the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) is working on a project to determine the top priorities for new research in speech and language therapy. Read our summary here 

In 2013, Alzheimer’s Society led a Dementia Priority Setting Partnership with the James Lind Alliance. The partnership consulted people with dementia, their carers and health and social care practitioners.

The top 10 priorities include:

  • The effectiveness of care and interventions for people with dementia and their carers;
  • Ways to encourage people with dementia to maintain nutritional intake
  • Early diagnosis; and acute and end-of-life care.

The creation of a World Dementia Council was one of the main commitments made at the G8 Dementia Summit in December 2013. The council aims to stimulate innovation, development and commercialisation of life-enhancing drugs, treatments and care for people with dementia, or at risk of dementia, within a generation. In September 2014 the WDC announced the next steps in its drive to speed up dementia research and increase investment.

Four main areas are being pursued in order to tackle the lack of effective treatment and sufficient funding to find a cure:

  • Integrated development
  • Finance and incentives
  • Open science
  • Public health/prevention 

Dementia Research Networks

The National Mental Health Dementia and Neurology Intelligence Networks provide commissioners, local decision-makers and other health professionals with intelligence, research and best practice. New profiling tools bring nationally reported data sources together in one place.

Alzheimer’s Research UK’s dementia research network includes over 700 scientists, connected to 15 centres of dementia research excellence. Alzheimer’s Research UK supports each centre with an annual grant for dementia research. Centres use their funds for small projects, research support and equipment. The network allows scientists to collaborate, sharing ideas, findings and resources. Each year the network gets together for an annual conference.

Join Dementia Research is aimed at people with dementia and their carers. They connect researchers with people who want to participate in research projects. Watch the “Join Dementia Research” video. Alternatively, visit their website for more information or to sign up.

Research priorities 

The RCSLT, in collaboration with the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) is working on a project to determine the top priorities for new research in speech and language therapy. Read our summary here.