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Language Disorders

Complications In Diagnosing Language Disorders In Older Adults

During the aging process, changes in bodily systems such as vision, hearing, or motor control for speech may cause changes in everyday language activities, such as reading the newspaper, following a conversation, or speaking clearly on the telephone. But as implied in the discussion of aphasia, one must be careful to account for or rule out difficulties of this sort before diagnosing a language (or other cognitive) disorder. Depression, while not a normative condition in older adults, is worth noting here as well, because it can reduce performance in testing situations and thus, without careful assessment, masquerade as a language or other cognitive disorder.

Education, and potentially related factors like literacy and language practice or use over the lifespan, also may complicate assessment and diagnosis of language disorders. Performance on aphasia tests, for example, shows a clear relationship to education. As such, unless an examiner is appropriately cautious, traditional assessments may overdiagnose difficulties in people with little formal education or language proficiency. On the other side of the coin, many measures may not be sufficiently sensitive to detect definite changes in highly educated or literate individuals.




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Additional topics

Medicine EncyclopediaAging Healthy - Part 3Language Disorders - Language Disorders In Older Adults, Language Deficits In Early Alzheimer's Disease And Other Progressive Conditions