6 Signs You Need a Speech Therapist as a Senior
Up to 10% of adults in America are currently living with communication disorders or language impairments. So if you are worried about your communication, you are not alone.
Language impairments can affect you from birth but more commonly develop as our bodies get older. This happens as your vocal cords lose their elasticity and the muscles in your larynx weaken. Certain health complications that can have a big impact on your communication also become more common as you get older.
Struggling with your speech can be overwhelming and may leave you feeling isolated from your friends and family. Fortunately, help is at hand. A speech therapist can help you improve your communication with daily exercises and dietary or medication changes.
So how do you know whether or not you need a speech therapist? Read on to find out six signs that it might be time to get support with speech therapy for seniors.
1. You Find Yourself Not Responding to Questions
Losing your ability to communicate can leave you feeling self-conscious. Conditions like adult stuttering might mean that you feel less confident during conversations.
Elderly person speech therapy could help if you often find yourself:
- Pretending not to hear a question
- Not replying or only replying in short sentences
- Choosing to do activities that require minimal communication
- Avoiding social contexts so you don’t have to talk
This can all be very isolating. Learning more about speech and language pathology could help you understand what is happening. Daily speech exercises will also help you regain your confidence in conversation.
2. You Have to Rely on Nonverbal Communication
If you are struggling with verbal communication, you may find yourself relying more on non-verbal cues instead.
This can include:
- Nodding or shaking your head to answer questions
- Pointing at objects you need or fetching them yourself rather than asking for them
- Conveying emotions using your facial expressions and body language
If you find yourself relying on non-verbal communication, it is worth speaking to a speech therapist as soon as possible.
3. You Find It Difficult Communicating With People That You Don’t Know
When it comes to communication, we often understand the people that we know best easily.
In fact, we will pick up on non-verbal ticks or methods of communication without even thinking about it. And we can become used to their less-than-perfect verbal communication. This all means that the people you see most regularly may not have any difficulty understanding you.
However, you may find that you have more difficulty communicating:
- In the store
- At your bank
- In the doctor’s surgery
- Over the phone
Struggling more with conversations outside of your home could be a sign that your verbal communication is suffering. If you find that you often need help communicating in these situations, it is worth visiting a speech therapist.
4. You Are Having Difficulty Eating or Swallowing
Changes to the movement of the lips and the strength of your larynx do not just affect your ability to speak. They can also make it more difficult to eat and swallow safely.
Difficulty swallowing is known as aphasia and affects roughly one million American adults. This might mean that you find it difficult to swallow food or that you cough a lot when swallowing. People with aphasia usually find it easier to swallow liquids compared to solids foods.
Aphasia can have a big impact on your nutritional health as well as your ability to communicate. Fortunately, speech therapy exercises can strengthen your larynx to improve your swallowing.
In the meantime, a therapist can recommend nutritional alternatives that are easy for you to eat. This ensures that your nutritional health doesn’t suffer while you are strengthening your larynx.
5. Your Voice Has Become Hoarse
Having a hoarse voice can be frustrating. This can make you sound gravelly or raspy when you speak or you might only be able to speak very quietly.
Often a hoarse voice will accompany a common cold or the flu. However, it might also be a sign that your vocal cords are suffering.
You should get help from a speech therapist if you notice that:
- Your hoarse voice isn’t accompanied by the common cold or flu symptoms
- Your hoarse voice persists long after symptoms have subsided
Speech therapy exercises will help you strengthen your vocal cords to restore your vocal quality.
6. You Are Experiencing Any Cognitive Changes
As your vocal cords and larynx age, your speech can deteriorate. However, several other conditions can affect your vocal communication as well. Often these involve cognitive impairments, such as dementia, Parkinson’s Disease, or ischemic strokes.
Often these will be accompanied by other cognitive impairment issues, such as:
- Difficulty remembering things
- Short attention spans
- Difficulty organizing thoughts or physical possessions
- Impaired problem solving or reasoning skills
- Changes in emotional regulation
- Changes in physical coordination
If you have experienced any of these symptoms, it is a good idea to get a neuropsychological evaluation as soon as possible. If you are living with a condition that affects your cognitive abilities, a speech therapist will still be able to help you.
They can give you exercises to slow down the effect of conditions, such as dementia and Parkinson’s, on your speech. They will also help you find new ways to communicate as your condition progresses. Or if you have suffered a stroke they can help rehabilitate your communication skills.
Get Support From a Speech Therapist Today
Communication impairments can have a huge impact on the quality of your daily life and can leave you feeling very isolated. So it is extremely important that you don’t suffer in silence with them.
If you have noticed any of the six signs above, it might be time to get help from a speech therapist. In that case, get in touch today to find the best speech therapy for seniors near you.