Did you know that senior citizens are the largest and fastest growing population in the United States? According to the U.S. Census, the 65-and-older population grew 15% between 2000 and 2010, to an estimated 40.3 million seniors. Because people are living longer than ever, groups across the nation observe National Healthy Aging Month each September. This campaign is designed to increase awareness of how seniors can increase their health, wellbeing, and quality of life in their twilight years. In support of this campaign, we’re dedicating this week’s blog to communication difficulties that are common in older adults, and how a speech-language pathologist can help.
Stroke-based Communication Disorders: Although a stroke can occur at any age, senior citizens are at higher risk than most, with the likelihood of stroke increasing with age. Problems with both speech (clearly saying words) and language (finding the words you want to use) are some of the most common issues following a stroke. Speech-language pathologists can work with a patient immediately after a stroke to increase communication improvement as the brain heals. A speech therapist can also provide strategies for improved communication even years after a stroke has occurred.
Swallowing Difficulties: Problems with swallowing can result from a number of age-related conditions, including neurological diseases like Parkinson’s, brain damage resulting from a stroke, or dementia. A speech-language pathologist can work with a person with swallowing issues to increase safety while eating and drinking, and provide recommendations for diet modification.
Dementia: Dementia is a common problem for aging seniors. Dementia doesn’t just affect a person’s memory—it can also create significant problems in understanding and producing language. A speech-language pathologist can work with the individual and their family to provide strategies to maintain meaningful communication for as long as possible, and increase language use in people with dementia.
Want to learn more? If you have any questions or would like to know more about speech-language therapy, give me a call at (212) 308-7725 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to chat and answer any questions you may have.
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