Nermina Cordalija, Nejla Kalajdzisalihovic


The paper discusses studies on language in typical cognitive aging and dementia conducted on English language processing. For the most part, the studies on language in aging and dementia presented in the paper have been done with speakers of English. We describe language comprehension and production of two groups— typically aging individuals and individuals with dementia. We provide between- group comparisons with regard to language comprehension and production and point out different levels of impairment affecting comprehension and production. Moreover, taking the findings of the studies into account, which observe language impairments as secondary to motoric, although they may constitute early markers of an undiagnosed condition (Kemper et al. 1995), it is tentatively proposed that content and function words need to be given special attention in analysing language comprehension and language production, respectively. At the same time, cognitive reserve through language learning and in the case of bilingual and multilingual speakers is proposed as a strategy to delay the onset of dementia (De Bot & Maconi, 2005). Finally, we discuss elderspeak and its impact on the quality of life of typically aging individuals and individuals with dementia.


dementia; aging; language comprehension; language production; content words; function words; cognitive reserve; elderspeak

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