Understanding Speech Language Pathology for Adults and GeriatricsApr 28, 2023
Speech Language Pathology, also known as Speech Therapy, is a field of healthcare that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of speech, language, communication and swallowing disorders. While most people associate speech therapy with children, it is equally important for adults and geriatrics who may face speech, language, voice, cognitive communication or swallowing difficulties due to a range of reasons such as aging, neurological disorders, or brain injury.
Speech Language Pathologist are trained and licensed professionals who work with adult and geriatric patients that have difficulty communicating, expressing their thoughts, or understanding language. SLPs also work with patients who have difficulty with their cognition or information processing skills including problem solving, attention, memory, organization, sequencing and reasoning, which can be a common problem for adults with neurological conditions and older adults.
Some of the common speech and language disorders that SLPs treat in adults and geriatrics include aphasia, dysarthria, apraxia, and voice disorders. Aphasia is a language disorder that results from brain injury or stroke and affects the ability to speak, understand, read, or write. Dysarthria is a motor speech disorder that affects the muscles used for speech, resulting in slurred or slow speech. Apraxia is a motor planning disorder that affects the ability to coordinate the movements needed for speech. Voice disorders can affect vocal quality, pitch, and loudness due to injury, disease, or voice overuse.
In addition to speech and language disorders, SLPs also work with patients who have difficulty swallowing, also known as dysphagia. This can be a common problem for older adults who may have age-related changes to the muscles used for swallowing or have a medical condition that affects swallowing. SLPs can assess the patient's swallowing function and develop a treatment plan that may include exercises, diet modification, or the use of adaptive equipment.
Overall, Speech Language Pathology is an important field of healthcare that helps adults and geriatrics maintain or improve their communication abilities and quality of life. SLPs work closely with the patient, their family, and other healthcare professionals to develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses the patient's specific needs and goals.
Nancy Wariari, MHA, MS CCC-SLP
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