Abigail’s mother recently suffered a stroke and while she has had a remarkably good recovery, she struggles to regain her speech. Abigail set up several appointments with the speech therapist recommended by the doctor, but her mother always finds an excuse to cancel. Because her mother was growing more withdrawn and it was getting harder to communicate her wants and needs, Abigail knew she needed to push harder for speech therapy.
When aging adults are in recovery from serious health issues that affect their speech, many find it beneficial to attend speech therapy. Communication is a vital part of interacting with others, especially for aging adults who need to share how they are feeling as they recover from major and impactful illnesses or diseases. If an aging loved one is resisting speech therapy, family caregivers must do their best to identify the obstacle and address it so their elderly relative will consider speech therapy.
There are several conditions that can affect speech in aging adults. Dementia, a stroke, facial palsy, or a head injury are the most common, but other physical issues can also contribute. With age, facial and throat muscles weaken, and the vocal cords become less flexible. Dental issues can also change how people speak.
When a senior’s speech is seriously affected, speech therapists can help them relearn how to speak and help restore their ability to communicate verbally. Speech therapy involves working the muscles that control speech, doing different exercises, working on recall and memory, and even dealing with swallowing issues that may be impeding proper speech. The sooner the aging adult can get into therapy, the shorter the recovery time, generally.
If elderly relatives refuse to go to speech therapy, it’s up to family caregivers to figure out why. Some seniors who are dealing with dementia may not be able to make the connection between their speech issues and the therapist who wants to help them. Still other elderly adults refuse to go because of the hard work involved. Often, seniors can feel embarrassed about their speech issues and don’t want to put in the work to make any progress.
Ignoring speech problems won’t make things better, so family caregivers must work hard to convince their loved ones that the therapy will help improve their quality of life. They can enlist the help of family members, friends, and senior care providers to explain how they struggle to understand them when requesting help or answering questions. Senior care providers may also be able to talk to the aging adult in a more neutral way and gain some understanding of what’s going on. Doctors and therapists may also be able to gain some insight into why aging adults may be resistant to speech therapy.
It’s extremely challenging to get through daily life without effective speech, but due to health issues, many seniors face that scenario. With support from family caregivers, doctors, friends, senior care providers, and speech therapists, however, they can work their way into speech therapy and see improvements in no time.