Our bodies change in ways that often surprise us as we age. We expect to maybe slow down physically as we age, or that our hearing and eyesight might not be as sharp as it once was, however there are other changes that you might not be aware of. One example of an age-related change that often takes people by surprise is speech.
Just like other areas of health, there are normal changes to speech that occur as we age. This is often the effect of larynx muscles weakening and vocal cords losing some of their elasticity, but there can be other causes as well. If you’ve experienced slight changes in your speech lately or have noticed these types of changes in someone else, it’s important to understand the causes and what can be done to remedy the issue.
How Aging Affects Speech
Normal aging causes many changes to occur that can affect speech. As we age, our muscles become weaker, and this includes muscles in the throat and jaw. Along with this, there can be glandular and tissue changes. All of these factors combined can change our speech processes as we age. This is why the stereotypical portrayal of an elderly person’s voice is usually a little shaky and hoarse with variations in the pitch.
When we get right down to it, all of these changes affect the larynx, which is where our voice comes from. Lack of support to the larynx, reduced flexibility and hardening of nearby cartilage changes the way the sound is produced.
Speech changes in seniors can also occur in ways that are not directly related to the natural aging process. For example, health conditions like Parkinson’s Disease, stroke and dementia can also bring about changes in a person’s ability to communicate. In some cases, certain medications or even an injury may also be to blame.
Why Speech Therapy Is Important for Seniors
Changes in speech as we age can move beyond tonality and pitch differences. In some cases, these changes can reduce a person’s ability to effectively communicate. Not only is this frustrating for the person, and often their families, it can also be detrimental to their health and safety.
Speech therapy is an option for every senior who is experiencing changes in their voice patterns and performance. It’s smart to not wait until a speech problem is so advanced that it either requires extensive services or the point where it has reached the point where vocal function can’t be completely restored.
The signs of age related speech changes aren’t always easy to recognize, and may include:
- Hoarseness and changes it pitch
- Difficulty producing certain sounds or saying certain words
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulties participating in a conversation
- Changes in cognition
- Loss of hearing
Get the Help You Need for Age Related Hearing Loss Today
If your doctor has prescribed speech therapy, or you’re considered about a loved one’s deteriorating speech, we’re here to help. Princeton Health Care Centers offers speech therapy, along with our short-term rehabilitation and long-term care programs. Contact Princeton Health Care Centers to discuss care options for your loved one today.