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Being able to communicate is a vital aspect of our ability to convey well-being, pain, pleasure, or any simple issue. Without this basic ability – one that many of us in good health take for granted – things can quickly get out of hand and escalate to emergency situations. There are numerous benefits of speech therapy for seniors that go beyond helping older adults to speak better, it can also be utilized as a tool to combat dementia and assist with stroke recovery. Read on to learn more about how we use speech therapy at Westminster Manor to help our residents live their best lives!
As we age, changes to our swallowing mechanisms impact our ability to swallow and digest foods and liquids. For example, materials that are consumed may leak from the digestive tract into the respiratory tract – a condition known as aspiration – and when foreign material enters the lungs, it can result in aspiration pneumonia, which is possibly fatal and difficult to treat. Speech therapists can perform swallowing evaluations and make modifications to an older adult’s diet, as well as undergo exercises with the patient to strengthen the underlying muscles.
Improving Speech Impacted by a Musculature Problem
Problems with the muscles that produce speech are known as dysarthria and stem from sensorimotor problems such as weakness, paralysis, or a change in muscle tone. This can lead to complications making sounds or accidentally substituting some words for others. Speech therapy is a non-invasive means of addressing these muscular deficiencies without involving surgical intervention by utilizing speaker strategies, environmental medication, and alternative communication.
Improving Speech Impacted by Brain Damage
A stroke event may have varying effects on a victim’s speech functions depending on the areas of the brain that are damaged. Aphasia is the general medical term describing a loss in the ability to understand speech due to a disruption in the brain’s pathways, and expressive aphasia is when a patient cannot speak but still maintains their understanding of expression. Speech therapy serves to re-open the damaged pathways in the brain to restore expression and speech by utilizing individual treatment plans including spoken, written, or computer exercises.
Preventing Weight Loss
Structural changes in musculature are not evident from the outside, which makes afflictions such as aspiration so urgently threatening. If food is being ingested but never reaches the stomach, patients may undergo severe weight loss and lack necessary nutrients in their diet. Speech therapists can suggest strategies for pacing and posture as a first line of attack against problems swallowing so that patients maintain their nutrition and weight without invasive medical intervention.
The first step in seeing if your elderly loved one can benefit from speech therapy is by making an appointment with a doctor, who may order an evaluation by a speech therapist. At Westminster Manor in picturesque Bradenton, FL, we offer outpatient therapy services to all residents with convenient treatments to get them right back to their favorite tasks and forms of recreation! Sunny skies and warm hearts beckon at Westminster Manor, contact us today to learn more.