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  • Writer's pictureEmily Halder

Speech Therapy for Aging Adults: Maintaining Communication and Cognitive Function

Aging is just not about losing youth - it’s a natural part of life that ushers in a new stage of opportunity and strength. Speech therapy for aging adults can help expand on that strength.

A group of older adults sitting on a couch.

As we get older, we may start to experience difficulties with communication, including speech, language, and cognitive retention. Speech therapy for older adults can help retain and improve communication and cognitive function.

What communicative challenges can older adults face?

  • Speech Articulation: Aging can result in weaker muscles in the mouth and throat. This makes it more difficult to clearly articulate and enunciate words.

  • Vocal Changes: Pitch, volume, and voice quality may change with age, so it can be challenging to be heard or understood.

  • Language Processing: Some older people may process language slower, leading to hardships in understanding and responding to conversations.

  • Memory Problems: Cognitive decline can weaken your memory. This can result in a hard time remembering words, names, or conversations.

  • Social Isolation: Due to their struggle with communication, aging adults may want to withdraw or isolate from a social environment, which can decrease quality of life.

  • Medical Conditions: Different conditions such as a stroke, Parkinsons, aphasia, dysphagia, or swallowing disorders can affect speech and communication.

How does speech therapy help aging adults?

At practices such as Blue Ridge Speech and Voice, speech therapy can play an important part in improving communication and treating speech disorders.

A blonde woman sitting next to an older Black woman.

First, speech therapy can enhance articulation and clarity, which can help aging adults speak more clearly and be better understood.

Second, speech therapy helps stimulate cognitive retention, which can mitigate or lessen cognitive decline. Memory exercises are often integrated speech therapy to help people better remember words, names, and information.

Third, by improving communication, speech therapy can be a confidence booster. With newfound confidence in their speech and language abilities, older adults will feel encouraged to engage in more social activities, as to deter social isolation and withdrawal.

Speech therapy for aging adults isn't one size fits all. Speech therapists will create individualized treatment plans customized to your specific needs and goals to foster the most effective outcomes.

The Impact of Speech Therapy on Mental Health

Effective communication is integral for nurturing independence. With better articulation and clarity, aging adults can better express their needs and preferences to others.

It’s important to keep your brain engaged, especially as you get older. You may have heard of people doing crosswords, Sudoku, or handicrafts to encourage mental stimulation. Speech therapy has a similar effect, because the strategies test the brain, which promotes mental agility and could slow down cognitive decline.

An older woman doing a crossword puzzle with a young brunette woman.

On an emotional level, overcoming communication challenges can attest to a sense of accomplishment. This can increase self esteem, while decreasing frustration and isolation.

Start Speech Therapy Today!

Speech therapy for aging adults is a powerful tool that can make significant advancements in your golden years. By working on communication and cognitive struggles, older adults can improve their overall well-being and continue to engage in the world around them. If you or a loved one is experiencing the challenges echoed here, don’t hesitate to reach out to a licensed speech therapist.

If you’re located in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, or Virginia, contact Blue Ridge Speech and Voice. Our team offers innovative speech therapy in a virtual setting to ensure comfort and safety. Call 828-222-3824 to learn more.

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