Our life develops in different ways: someone is happy, living in a large, full-fledged family, for others, it is a compelling painful circumstance, and it is difficult for someone to contact because of remoteness. The situation becomes more difficult when close people are sick or require constant care. Anyway, it is important to build communication with the elderly harmoniously, to understand all the specifics of the attitude towards them, to help them in regaining their self-reliance and sense of their own need. Often there are situations when our relatives cannot really explain where and what hurts them. And it’s worth paying attention to them because the lack of attention to such symptoms can lead to undesirable consequences. Speech therapy can play a truly important role in improving the health of older people, especially those suffering from stroke, traumatic brain injury, or cancer of both the mouth and throat.
Speech therapists are usually called speech pathologists (SLP), providing therapy that focuses on a person’s ability to speak, understand and swallow. Their treatment plans are designed to improve cognition, communication and solve problems of the elder, such as nutrition and hydration, which some health professionals do not take into account with regard to speech and swallowing problems. Moreover, patients feel much better thanks to this treatment, — a healthy lifestyle means prevention of stroke for the elderly.
Speech therapy has a majority of benefits for the elderly, so sometimes it can be used even for frivolous problems, as well as preventing stammering or fear of talking to other people. Certain therapy is often used after head injuries, the onset of dementia, stroke or head diseases. It is important to note that speech therapy can sometimes become necessary because of the aging process. The vocal cords lose elasticity, and the muscles of the larynx can be weakened. It becomes difficult to communicate with such a person, and sometimes it’s even impossible to understand the elderly. Here are some signs indicating it is worthwhile to use speech therapy:
● Does your elderly relative have difficulties with requests or answers to other people?
● Do they have difficulties with daily personal affairs because of the lack of clear conversations?
● Does the elderly person have troubles swallowing or feel that the food is “stuck” in the chest or throat?
● Are there any doubts an elderly person can adequately communicate when an emergency occurs?
● Does your relative communicate compulsorily?
● Does the elderly person speak loudly, being not able to hear others?
● How often does your elderly person change words when communicating?
Aphasia is usually developing after a stroke. It is a condition, worsening the ability to understand and use the language in a right way. Every fourth survivor of 700,000 people, suffering from stroke every year experiences aphasia. More methods of treatment are constantly developing, which increases the chances of recovery. The degree of the disease is usually depends on the stroke intensity, since even an ischemic stroke can slightly impair face and, moreover, cause some difficulties in swallowing. Fortunately, pathologists are actively trained in the skills of helping older people. They enhance functional communication and cognitive skills, training safe swallowing skills. Among all the treatment methods used after a stroke, can be named:
● Singing – Creating melodic intonations for words, difficult for pronunciation;
● Intensified therapy – creating scenarios using oral words and lack of visual signals;
● Visual perception of speech – drawing analogies of certain words with pictures for cognitive retraining;
● Support groups with peers – older people share their achievements and successes in fighting the disease;
● Dietary / fodder modifications – relief of dysphagia due to hydration methods, special diets and feeding;
● Muscle retraining or compensation strategies;
● Exercises for both development and maintenance of muscles.
Cognitive communication usually takes into account all the possible conditions associated with both dementia, and memory disorders. Because of this, it is difficult for older people to process and remember information. Moreover, the problem-solving skills and skills are violated, so a speech pathologist can help in the early stages of dementia, using a variety of techniques. Keeping language skills, memory cannot work so well. Speech therapists try to work with older people and their families to solve problems with swallowing difficulties. Therapists use a majority of the techniques commonly used after a stroke. Thus, many of our patients are involved in daily life with the support of our doctors, family, and tremendous friends.