When most of us think about speech therapy, we usually imagine school-based speech therapists aiding children in getting rid of their lisps, and other scenarios early in life. However, speech therapy isn’t just for the little ones. On the contrary, speech therapy can be extremely effective for elderly individuals, including your aging parents. Communication becomes increasingly more important as your parents age, which is why speech therapy can provide a surprising number of benefits for you and your family, such as the following:
Strengthens Vocal Cords
Similarly to many other parts of the human body, our vocal cords are also subject to wear and tear over the years, losing their elasticity with age. This leads to the larynx muscles weakening, making it more difficult for an older adult to communicate due to problems such as a raspy or hoarse voice. While speech therapy may not be able to reverse your loved one’s damaged vocal cords, it can help to strengthen their vocal cords and improve their quality of communication overall.
Improves Ability to Swallow
Another common difficulty that those with age-weakened muscles have is losing the ability to swallow. This can lead to difficulties with eating, as well as hazards such as choking on food. Speech therapy can strengthen your loved one’s vocal cords, as well as their larynx and jaw muscles. This helps your loved one to improve and feel more comfortable with their swallowing reflex, keeping mealtimes running safely and smoothly.
Contributes to Stroke Recovery
Stroke-related disorders become increasingly more common as people age, including your parents. Speech therapy is often recommended to older patients who’ve suffered a stroke, typically for those who experience stroke-induced aphasia and apraxia. Patients suffering from aphasia find difficulty in using the appropriate words to express their thoughts, which can be improved with speech therapy. On the other hand, apraxia is when a patient becomes unable to move their lips properly to form their intended words. Speech therapy for apraxia involves repeating certain sounds to help a patient turn said sounds into full words.
Aids in Treating Dementia and Memory Loss
Older adults who suffer from memory-impairing conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia can also reap a bunch of benefits from undergoing speech therapy. Speech therapy can help to slow cognitive decline, especially in the brain functions related to communication. It also helps to address the cognitive aspects of communicating, such as problem-solving and attention span.
Boosts Overall Quality of Life
Communication is important for just about anyone, which is why it can be heartbreaking and demoralizing to become unable to communicate as one ages. Hence, it’s only natural that older adults with untreated speech problems often become prone to social isolation, mental health concerns, and other issues. Thus, speech problems are just the tip of the iceberg. Speech therapy enables your aging parents to communicate and remain socially engaged by giving them the practice and confidence to speak, improving their overall quality of life.
Our senior living community is eager to help your loved one on their health and wellness journey! To learn more about how we can serve your family, read up on our Assisted Living program.