The elderly suffer from a wide variety of diseases that may impact their ability to communicate effectively. Diseases such as strokes, dementia, head injuries, etc. often cause problems with communication, behavior, organization, and the ability to solve problems easily.
These are all areas that may benefit from speech therapy services. There are a number of consequences to ignoring speech and communication problems.
They can include:
A comprehensive speech therapy evaluation can determine if there is a language-based problem, what the nature of the problem is, and how best to address through treatment. Sometimes what appears to be a “memory” problem may actually be a problem with processing auditory information or mentally organizing information so that it can be recalled at a later time. Speech therapy can focus on teaching the patient techniques to process, organize, or recall information. The focus of speech therapy may also include instruction in compensatory strategies such as writing down information, recording information, color-coding information, or recording events in a journal.
There are also times when a speech therapy evaluation may be needed to rule out a speech, language, or cognition problem. In cases where there does not appear to be a speech or language deficit, it may make sense to look at other possible factors. These can include medications, dehydration, depression, or an underlying medical problem. It is not normal for an elderly person to have difficulty communication, organizing their thoughts or completing everyday tasks related to personal, medical, and financial management. Problems with these tasks should be reported to the primary care physician so that signs and symptoms can be determined, possible causes identified, and proper treatment rendered.