When people think of speech therapy, they often imagine small children playing games that help them to eliminate stutters or lisps, but communication problems can arise at any age and it is necessary that these conditions are dealt with as quickly and effectively as possible. Many of the conditions that are common in older adulthood can affect the speech center, vocal cords, and swallowing centers of the brain, making even the most basic of life’s tasks more difficult. For these seniors, a speech pathologist can help to greatly improve the way they function and relate to their world, improving both physical and mental health outcomes in both the periods immediately following an injury or illness as well as in the long-term. Princeton Health Care Center has speech pathologists on staff to help patients with the following concerns.
Speech Therapy For Brain Damage
Strokes become more common as people age, and an incident can affect speech and comprehension, depending on the parts of the brain that were impacted. When aphasia occurs, it can take different forms, all of which can be improved by working with a speech pathologist. Patients with expressive aphasia can still understand others but may not be able to speak themselves, while those with receptive aphasia may sound clear but not make any sense or comprehend the speech of others. A speech therapist can assess whether the recovery of verbal speech is possible in these patients by creating new pathways for speech to occur. If speaking capabilities cannot be restored, speech therapy will seek to find the most effective ways for individuals to communicate with friends, family members, and their medical team, either via written methods or with the help of assistive technology. No matter what methods are taken, the goal is to consistently improve communication for the patient to help them continue to form connections with the outside world.
Speech Therapy For Dementia
Many residents of long-term care facilities suffer from dementia of varying degrees. Depending on the severity of the patient’s condition, patients in Memory Care facilities may experience difficulties with memory, recall, attention, and problem solving. Speech therapy improves both verbal and nonverbal language, allowing those with Alzheimer’s and similar conditions to learn strategies that help them communicate with and comprehend others. Though these conditions are usually incurable, communication techniques taught by a speech pathologist can greatly improve the quality of life.
Speech Therapy For Musculature Problems
Paralysis, muscular weakness, or decreased muscle tone can result in dysarthria, making it difficult for the patient to produce sounds or causing them to involuntarily substitute the wrong sounds for the correct one. Speech pathologists can assist with these sensorimotor problems by creating a series of exercises or coping strategies to strengthen the right muscles, as well as coordinating care with primary care physicians and other caretakers to decide on the right medications to aid in recovery and pain management. Dysphagia can cause patients to have difficulty swallowing solid food, liquids, or both, resulting in aspiration when materials leak from the digestive tract into the respiratory tract. For these individuals, speech therapy strives to find noninvasive ways to maintain nutrition by establishing correct postures and pacing strategies to help prevent aspiration and decrease the risk of serious conditions or death.
Improve Health Outcomes with Speech Therapy
If strokes, muscular weakness, or dementia have made communication difficult for you or someone you love, contact Princeton Health Care Center today to be connected to the care that will make living more enjoyable.