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How Speech Therapy Can Help Seniors

senior patient with a speech therapist

The ability to communicate effectively is always essential, but it becomes especially important as you age. While mild cognitive and voice changes are a natural part of the aging process, these shifts can impact your ability to communicate if they worsen over time. By learning when and how speech therapy can help, you stay in control of your brain health.

Rehabilitation from Stroke

As with physical or occupational therapy, speech therapy – most often associated with rehabilitation –  is prescribed by a physician. It’s an essential part of a recovery treatment plan, as a stroke often impacts your ability to physically form words, or cognitively find the right words to say. In fact, 1 in 4 stroke patients experience aphasia, a language disorder affecting the ability to speak and understand verbal and written language. Speech therapy is proven to be highly effective for these types of patients, but treatment needs to start as soon as possible post-stroke for maximum recovery.

A Treatment Plan for Memory Loss

Speech therapy is also crucial for seniors with swallowing problems, which may be an effect of Parkinson’s disease or another form of dementia, as it can increase your chance of choking. Even without swallowing problems, speech therapy can benefit seniors with memory loss, as it focuses on the areas of the brain that involve important communication skills like retaining information, responsiveness and problem-solving.

Speech therapists are not only trained to help preserve aspects of communication affected by memory loss, but they can also assist the family and friends of those with dementia to better communicate with their loved ones.

Maintaining Brain Health

It may surprise you to learn that the benefits of speech therapy for elderly people also go beyond treatment for specific conditions. By focusing on your communication, you can improve your mental engagement and socialization skills, which also play a part in keeping your brain healthy as you age. When communication is affected, it can lead to not being able to express discomfort, pain or other feelings that are important to quality of life. This can lead to isolation from others, which increases your chances of serious health risks. With speech therapy, you can maintain and even improve the speaking and processing aspects of your communication skills.

Are you or a senior you know experiencing any of the following conditions?

  • Swallowing problems
  • Impaired cognitive function (such as the ability to process and/or organize information)
  • Facial paralysis brought on by stroke or other condition
  • Memory loss related to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease
  • General weakness in facial muscles/vocal cords 
  • Trouble remembering the right words to say

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, it may be time to consider an assessment from a speech therapist who specializes in geriatrics to learn what, if any, recommendations they have for improving communication. These specialists are trained to know the difference between normal aging changes and something more serious.

Can I Afford Speech Therapy?

Speech therapy is covered by Medicare and may be covered by your private insurance as well. Make sure your speech therapist is certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and ask your physician for more specific information that applies to your treatment plan.

Contact us today to learn more about speech therapy at Freedom Village. Winners of the U.S. News Best Nursing Home Short-Term Rehabilitation Award for 2019-2020, our skilled therapy team will work with you to develop an individualized plan to get you back to an active life in your own home as quickly as possible.