Seniors are especially prone to ailments that can affect speech in a negative way. Because both understanding and hearing are important for seniors, it is a good idea to know a bit more about the different health issues that seniors often face in relates to communication disorders.
Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia
Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, may hinder communication and understanding in a massive way. That is because the part of the brain that is responsible for comprehension and speech is damaged. Even though dementia is incurable and progressive, that does not mean that therapies might not (temporarily) improve communication. Oftentimes sufferers need to adapt their communication patterns to the situation. This means that maintaining eye contact and smiling can be especially helpful when talking to people who have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Around 1 percent of seniors over the age of 60 throughout the nation have issues with Parkinson’s disease. This type of disease does damage to the basal ganglia, a region of the brain that is known to cause speech problems. These may manifest themselves in reduced fluency, problems with articulation, and voice changes.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS):
While most in the country know it as Lou Gehrig’s disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is the official name. This disabling disease is progressive and causes difficulty speaking, difficulty swallowing, muscle atrophy, and weakness. Communication can become more labored as the disease progresses, and there is currently no cure for ALS. It is possible to mitigate speech problems by working with occupational therapists and speech language-pathologists.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Multiple sclerosis may lead to problems with both understanding and speech. It is a problem that many seniors live with, despite it typically being diagnosed before old age. It may cause difficulty speaking, because of the associated problems with the swallowing reflex. Oftentimes someone with MS does not know that he or she has speech problems until someone else brings it up.
Stroke Related Aphasia
Aphasia is a disorder that affects someone’s ability to understand and use language. Stroke is the leading cause of aphasia. Around 25 percent of people who suffer a stroke eventually develop aphasia. There are no two sufferers whose symptoms are completely the same, because there are several different categories of aphasia. If the symptoms have persisted for more than six months after the stroke, it is not likely that the patient will recover.