When you hear the term “speech therapy,” you may think of a young child suffering from a lisp. But speech therapy is not just for children; older adults, too, can benefit from time with a speech therapist.
A speech therapist (also called a speech-language pathologist), provides therapy to help increase a person’s communication skills, including writing, reading, speaking, and gesturing, and can include swallowing problems that adults may encounter.
Speech therapy in nursing homes is very common. A speech therapist who provides treatment in a nursing home setting is less likely to focus on articulation and literacy. These therapists concentrate on swallowing and memory issues.
Older adults may need speech therapy for a variety of reasons. As we age, our vocal cords and larynx muscles can stretch and weaken, making it more challenging to communicate. Patients who suffer from a stroke may need speech therapy, as they can have difficulty using and comprehending language.
Adults with dementia also can benefit from speech therapy in nursing homes, as it can improve some memory processes for patients who have difficulty selecting words and remembering names. Some speech-language pathologists will work with the families of dementia patients to provide communication training.
Patients who have had a stroke will also work with a speech therapist. After having a stroke, it is tough for a patient to communicate as they try to talk, but when they can’t, the frustration levels rise. High stress and frustration do no good and this is why a speech therapist is critical. The speech therapist will work with the stroke victim on ways to communicate and helps to reduce the frustration.
Speech Therapy and Sudden Weight Loss
When a resident presents with signs of fast weight loss, it could be an indication that there is a difficulty with swallowing. If a resident has trouble swallowing, then he/she may not be eating enough or taking in enough calories, which happens regularly in nursing homes. Consequently, it is paramount to have a speech therapist on staff. The speech therapist will work with the nursing staff to come up with a plan for nutrition and hydration.
Best Tools Used by Speech Therapists
Some of the best tools speech therapists use when working with the senior population are magazines and newspapers. Although this may seem like an odd approach, it isn’t. By using magazines and newspapers, the resident learns about current events and can communicate about the topics with family and other visitors.
Speech therapy, along with a highly trained nursing staff, provide the best care available and stays abreast of any problems that may occur. Residents who are regularly assessed by speech therapists have fewer chances of developing unseen or undetected issues with communication and swallowing.
A resident that suddenly develops swallowing issues should be seen by a speech therapist as soon as feasibility possible. Communication is vital when trying to let others know what is wrong.