Being able to communicate clearly and effectively is crucial to living a satisfying life. Expressing your feelings, stating your needs, and socializing with friends and loved ones are important to both your physical health and your emotional well-being.
Unfortunately, many older adults struggle with their speech and language. Age-related illness, injury, or chronic health conditions can hinder your ability to communicate, and when left untreated, can contribute to feelings of isolation and depression. With speech therapy, you can improve your quality of life by restoring lost communication skills and reconnecting with the world.
The Goal of Speech Therapy for Adults
Speech disorders in older adults are often caused by one or more of the following health conditions:
Stroke or brain hemorrhage
Brain injury due to an accident or fall
Progressive, degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s
Depending on the region of the brain affected, language and speech processing may be impacted in different ways. No matter what the cause, speech-language pathologists can help to improve voice function, muscle movement, cognition, and language. Speech therapy for adults is about more than learning how to talk. It’s about the ability to form coherent thoughts, and getting those thoughts across in a way that others can understand – with the ultimate goal of living a full, healthy, independent life.
Different Approaches to Treat Speech Disorders
Because there are so many different causes of speech disorders, treatment must be individualized. Different conditions necessitate different services and treatment plans. Some of the more common approaches to treating speech disorders include:
Many speech disorders are a function of muscle weakness. Strokes, brain injury, or Parkinson’s disease can cause conditions such as dysarthria and apraxia, leaving you physically unable to move your tongue or lips in order to form the words you need to say. In these cases, treatment focuses on getting your muscles to move correctly, by repeatedly practicing mouth movements and deliberately slowing down your speech.
Sometimes, speech disorders are a result of cognitive deficiencies – an inability to recall the right words, or trouble getting the words to travel from your brain to your mouth. This is quite common after a stroke and is a significant issue in patients suffering from dementia. To improve speech for these individuals, speech-language pathologists will often work on improving attention span, developing problem-solving skills, and practicing the recall of important information.
Some types of speech disorders can improve with the help of group therapy. Speaking with other patients in a safe, supportive environment enables you to practice newly developed communication skills and strengthen your vocabulary, preparing you to function independently.
Augmentative and Alternative Communication
For severe speech or language problems, augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) can give you a way to communicate without using your voice. There are many ways to use AAC, including body language, pen and paper, or even speech-generating devices. A speech-language pathologist can help to identify the right method of AAC for you.
Recover speech and communication at Bella Vista Health Center
At Bella Vista Health Center, we understand the unique challenges facing older adults who struggle with speech disorders. That’s why we have the best speech therapy programs San Diego has to offer, designed and customized by dedicated speech-language pathologists in a caring treatment environment. Whether you or a loved one has suffered from a stroke, traumatic brain injury, or a degenerative illness, we have the tools you need to regain the ability to communicate.
Call us at (619) 644-1000 to find out more about our speech therapy services.