All too often seniors don’t realize the potential benefits that Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) services can have for them. This is due mostly to a lack of knowledge of what SLP services include, not realizing that many of the problems that seniors struggle with can be helped. It should never be assumed that just because a person has aged that they are not able to improve their communication or swallowing abilities.
Strokes, head traumas and neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease, all have the potential to impede an individual’s ability to communicate or swallow effectively.
For some people, it may be difficult to find the right words, feeling that the word is on the ‘tip of their tongue’ but they just cannot quite find it. Although this can happen to all of us at times, it is something that you can work on improve. Perhaps finding the right word is not the problem, but rather muscle weakness has resulted in challenges producing speech as clearly as you once did. Seniors may find that people are asking them to repeat themselves often as they are speaking too quietly or not producing sounds as accurately as before. A trained SLP can help seniors learn ways to increase their volume and produce speech sounds more clearly. Others may attempt to speak following a stroke, but their speech comes out jumbled or garbled. Sounds or words may come out in a mixed up order. This can be very frustrating, but there are ways a SLP can help.
Other individuals may find that their reading skills are not what they used to be. They may find it difficult to read and understand newspaper articles, magazines or books. It may take them longer to read, or they may have difficulty remembering what they read. For some, writing can become a challenge too. Although the person may know what they want to write, they may have difficulty finding the word they want or putting their thoughts into sentences that make sense. A SLP can help assess these areas and find strategies that may help seniors get back to the hobbies they used to enjoy.
It is important to note that the communication challenges that may arise as a person ages are not a reflection of the individual’s overall intelligence. Although it may be more difficult to read, write or speak, with the right support individuals can make tremendous improvements. The ability to communicate allows seniors to stay active and involved as they are able to maintain the important relationships with family, friends and neighbours.
Another area that may become a challenge is swallowing. Individuals may notice that they are coughing when eating or drinking, leaving them with a sense that the food ‘went down the wrong way’. Others may feel that food or drinks are sticking in their throat. Perhaps swallowing is uncomfortable or the individual is having trouble with drooling. A SLP can complete a swallowing evaluation and determine the best recommendations to help with these challenges too!
S.L Hunter has helped many seniors enjoy a higher quality of life by assisting them with their communication and swallowing challenges. We’re here to help.
The offices of S.L. Hunter & Associates are located at 5195 Harvester Rd. Unit 4B. We can be reached by telephone at 905-637-5522 or online at www.slhunter.ca.