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Speech Therapy for Elderly

May 22, 2014

An amazing benefit of joining a retirement community is the potential for close and convenient medical care. Physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy are a few rehabilitative services that are frequently offered for senior citizens. Speech therapy focuses on a person’s capacity for speech, language, comprehension and swallowing.

Speech and language pathologists evaluate patients and create treatment plans to improve communication, cognition, nutrition and hydration. For adults, common medical conditions that may benefit from speech therapy are dementia, stroke, brain injury, oral cancer and Huntington’s disease.

doctor looking into senior woman's ear Your first speech therapy appointment
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association suggests patients complete a few tasks before seeing their speech pathologist. First, make a list of what you want to talk about and current medications so as to not forget anything. It’s also beneficial to look up your disorder or the symptoms you’re experiencing so you go into the doctor’s office somewhat prepared. Once you’re there, ask all of your questions and consider taking notes if you’re worried about recalling everything they said later. Repeat information back to the audiologist to confirm your understanding and ask for contact information in the event that further questions come up.

Treatment for dementia
Speech therapy is often used in dementia patients to preserve brain function associated with communication. It can also be effective for elderly people who develop swallowing problems, as therapists can recommend a diet plan that eliminates the risk of choking while eating.

Speech pathologists assess cognitive-communication skills then identify specific impairments, barriers, facilitators and troublesome activities. ASHA defines cognitive-communication issues as those which affect how someone processes and remembers information, reasons and solves problems and exhibits control over their speech and language.

After assessing the patient’s weaknesses and strengths related to cognitive communication, the speech pathologist will present a formal diagnosis and recommend proper treatment options. They may also refer a patient to another type of doctor for further examination.

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