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Speech Therapy for Aging Adults: Who It Can Help, and How

Senior working with a speech therapist

As we age, many of us start noticing changes in our speech and communication abilities.

Our voices get softer, our words don’t come out as clearly, or we have trouble finding the right words to express ourselves.

For some, these changes are mild and don’t impact daily life too much. But for others, age-related communication problems can begin to isolate them from friends, family, and activities they used to enjoy.

The good news is that speech therapy can help with these challenges.

Working with a speech-language pathologist provides older adults with strategies, tools, and exercises to improve communication skills. At Atlantic Shores, our comprehensive speech therapy services are designed specifically for seniors.

So whether you’re looking to strengthen your voice, find the right words more easily, improve swallowing difficulties, or enhance communication after a stroke, our team of experts can help you regain skills to better connect with your community and loved ones.

What is Speech Therapy?

Speech therapy helps people of all ages improve and strengthen their communication and swallowing skills through exercises and strategies. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are the trained professionals who provide this type of therapy. They evaluate and treat speech, language, cognitive communication, and swallowing disorders in children and adults.

These therapists help aging adults relearn language skills, recover from conditions like strokes, improve speech clarity, and strengthen muscles involved in swallowing. Sessions often focus on exercises to improve the underlying physical capabilities involved in communication.

Who Can Benefit from Speech Therapy?

Speech therapy is not just for people who have suffered strokes or injuries. Many healthy adults can benefit from working with a speech therapist as they age.

Common Reasons That Seniors Seek Out Speech Therapy Include:

  • Age-related voice changes – As we age, our vocal cords weaken and thin out. This results in a softer, breathier voice that’s lower in volume and pitch. Targeted exercises can help strengthen the vocal cords.
  • Impaired speech clarity – Slurred or mumbled speech patterns can develop as we age. Speech therapy helps improve articulation and pronunciation.
  • Word-finding difficulties – It becomes common to have “tip of the tongue” moments. Word retrieval exercises provide memory improvement and word-finding skills.
  • Swallowing problems – Some older adults experience dysphagia or difficulty swallowing food and liquids. Speech therapy can help strengthen swallowing muscles.
  • Hearing loss – Hearing and communication are closely linked. Targeted strategies can help to improve communication when hearing declines.
  • Social isolation – Untreated speech problems can cause seniors to avoid social situations. Speech therapy builds confidence to stay engaged.

So, if you notice age-related changes in your speech, voice, language, or swallowing, know that you don’t have to accept it as a normal part of aging. Speech therapy can help you communicate more clearly and confidently.

The Speech Therapy Process

Embarking on your speech therapy journey typically involves an initial evaluation where your communication abilities are carefully assessed.

These comprehensive evaluations help identify specific focus areas during your therapy sessions.

In this evaluation, practitioners dive into your case history, discussing your medical background, medications, hearing status, and when symptoms first appeared. Then, a speech and voice exam will be performed, which involves attentive listening to assess vocal quality, volume, clarity, and flow.

The language skills exam tests, which often follow in the exam process, focus on various aspects that will provide valuable information to better individualize the plan of action in a comprehensive and targeted way.

The Speech Therapy Treatment

Post-evaluation, your speech therapist tailors a treatment plan to your specific needs and goals.

Since every person’s needs are unique, speech therapists tailor their approach to your individual goals. These plans may involve articulation exercises, enhancing speech clarity through repetition, or oral motor exercises to strengthen muscles used in speaking and swallowing, to name a few.

Here Are Some Additional Resource Recommendations Your Treatment Plan May Include:

  • Articulation exercises – To improve the clarity of speech sounds through repetition.
  • Oral motor exercises – To strengthen muscles involved in speaking and swallowing.
  • Communication strategy training – To provide techniques to compensate for word-finding or hearing difficulties.
  • Cognitive-linguistic exercises – To enhance word retrieval, memory, attention, and reasoning skills.
  • Vocal strengthening exercises – To increase volume and build endurance.
  • Swallowing exercises – To improve safe swallowing function.
  • Hearing and assistive listening devices – To optimize hearing abilities.

During your sessions, your speech therapist will guide you through targeted exercises and provide helpful strategies to practice at home between visits. With consistent participation in speech therapy, you can achieve noticeable improvements in your communication abilities.

Speech Therapy at Atlantic Shores Retirement Community

Many older adults hesitate to seek help for communication problems. Some mistakenly chalk it up to “normal aging,” while others feel embarrassed or worried about what people will think.

But ignoring speech difficulties often makes matters worse. The more prolonged problems go unaddressed, the harder they become to improve.

Like building any skill, communication requires practice. Speech therapy provides the structure and expertise to help you regain confidence in communicating. Investing in these services now means enjoying clearer conversations and more social connections for years to come.

At Atlantic Shores, we understand how much living a connected, engaged lifestyle means to seniors. Our comprehensive speech therapy services are designed to help older adults communicate to their full potential, while our experienced speech therapists have advanced training in working specifically with seniors.

Maintaining a Vibrant Lifestyle with Better Communication

Difficulty with speech, language, or swallowing doesn’t have to limit the joy you get out of life.

With effective speech therapy, you can continue to speak up in conversations with friends, articulate your needs clearly to family or care providers, and fully engage in your vibrant community.

Meaningful connection is an essential part of staying healthy, happy, and purposeful as we age. Our residents enjoy an active lifestyle with chef-prepared dining, fitness classes, social events, outings to local cultural attractions, and more.

Improving communication through speech therapy helps ensure you can participate fully and make the most out of every day.

Communicating your needs, wants, feelings, and opinions effectively is vital to maintaining autonomy as you age.

We’re Here to Help You Find Your Voice

Our compassionate therapy team empowers older adults to communicate to their fullest potential. We offer individualized speech therapy right within our community, so you can easily access care.

Whether you want to have a say in your care, participate in resident council meetings, provide feedback to community management, or simply share laughs with neighbors, your communication skills empower you to stay in control, and our speech therapists will be there to help you achieve your goals.