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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Communication Difficulties and Seniors


Communication Difficulties and Seniors

There are many different hearing, language, and speech problems that affect the senior community. By understanding the symptoms, seniors can seek the treatment they need and identify the problem as early as possible. At  Odd Fellows Home we provide audiology services which involve an Otoscopic evaluation and a hearing screening. A licensed speech therapist also provides treatments to residents who have speech difficulties. A holistic treatment plan is created involving the physician and different departments like nursing, activities, rehabilitation, etc.
SeniorsList.com has listed below some common communication difficulties experienced by the senior population:
Hearing difficulties affect over 10 million seniors in the United States and the most common cause of this is presbycusis which is age-related hearing loss. This loss of hearing happens slowly, and first results in the difficulty to hear high-frequency sounds as someone talking. As this condition gets worse, lower-frequency sounds can become difficult to hear as well. Some of the symptoms include: difficulty hearing in noisy places, ringing in the ears, and voices sounding slurred or mumbled. It will also be easier to understand a man’s voice than a woman’s. While there is no cure for this condition, there are some treatments available with the most common being hearing aids. Of course any purchase of a hearing aid should be completed by licensed audiologist.
Aphasia is a condition where seniors experience impairment in language ability. Symptoms may include the inability to understand language, inability to form words or pronounce words, and inability to read or write. The major causes of aphasia are strokes and head injuries. And because of the complex nature of aphasia there is no universal treatment method. It presents itself differently in patients and, therefore, requires a team effort in providing a treatment plan. This may include a doctor, social worker, speech pathologist, psychologist, and occupational therapist. Overall treatment has been known to create positive outcomes when learning to adjust to these limitations in communication.
Dysarthria is a disorder that interferes with the normal production of speech. People who have dysarthria often have challenges with vocal quality, range, tone, strength in speech, and timing. Causes of dysarthria include degenerative disease (Parkinson’s, Huntington’s disease, and ALS), embolic stroke, and traumatic brain injury. Treatment is typically done by speech pathologists and includes a variety of techniques.
If you notice a change in speech, memory, organization, or communication in general than it should be reported to your physician or the senior’s physician immediately. These problems can often occur when there is an underlying problem, so it’s important to address this as soon as possible.
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