Speech therapy is not something reserved only for children in public schools. Adults of various ages have speech issues, whether that involves something as simple as stuttering or as profound as a mind-related speech disorder. Sometimes, speech impediments may result from traumatic incidents such as a stroke or head injury.
This means that senior citizens recovering from a stroke or other incident may require adult speech therapy in addition to other treatments. Many skilled nursing facilities have speech-language pathology experts to help residents recover their powers of verbal expression.
Possible Speech Issues
Ultimately, language and speech are tied to the mind, so it is in the mind that adult speech therapy begins. There are various ways in which one’s mind may affect speaking ability, including the following common speech disorders:
- Stuttering: A classic example of speaking difficulty is stuttering. This may involve stoppages, repeated sounds, or prolonged sounds when speaking. While it may not necessarily be tied exclusively to any single mental disorder, treatment still involves working with the mind. The patient is guided through a process in which fear and tension are overcome, and they practice pronouncing problematic word sounds.
- Aphasia: This results from damage to areas of the brain and thus may affect all areas of language, including reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Mild cases may manifest themselves as difficulty finding the right word, whereas severe cases may render the individual totally unable to comprehend what people are saying.
- Dysarthria: When parts of the brain that govern the motor aspects of speech are damaged, the result is dysarthria. This may manifest itself as slurring, slow speaking rate, uncoordinated or irregular speaking patterns, difficulty controlling facial muscles, and trouble swallowing. Often, this results from stroke or other neurological damage.
- Apraxia of speech: Similarly to dysarthria, apraxia has to do with the motor functions governing speech. However, it is far more specific in its results in that it primarily affects the brain’s ability to plan and sequence the movements needed in speech. This means the individual may not be able to respond to questions or commands (“stick out your tongue” or “say ahh”), but can still make spontaneous responses or recite rote lists of items, such as the days of the week or the alphabet.
Given the various nuances present in how speech difficulties occur, the type of treatment used needs to be tailored to the individual.
Adult speech therapy needs to be done on an individual basis in order to target specific problem areas. Therapy may be highly intensive depending on the patient’s needs, sometimes involving several hours every day over the course of a few months. It may also involve demonstrations and practice of whatever sound or word patterns are causing trouble. Family involvement may also be important in order to help speech goals be met.
In order to be successful, the speech language pathologist working with the individual must be well qualified in the specific area to be treated. At Senior Care Centers, we place a strong emphasis on ensuring that our residents get the best care available, including when it comes to adult speech therapy. For more information, contact us today.