Communication disorders in the elderly is not uncommon, and many family caregivers strive to get them the help they need. Because elderly people are more at risk to developing diseases and ailments that can impact speaking, hearing and comprehension, communication becomes a real challenge. Some disorders are minor and can be reversed or corrected, while others are permanent and quite detrimental to the elderly person’s quality of life. Here are a few things family caregivers need to know about communication disorders and helping a senior loved one adjust to new challenges.
What Causes Communication Disorders?
Communication disorders that affect hearing, speaking and comprehension are varied and there are many medical conditions that trigger one or more. Speaking can be affected by certain medical conditions like Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, ALS, oral cancer, and strokes. Other contributors to both physical and neurological challenges to communication include Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, trauma, medication side effects and more.
Hearing loss is generally the result of aging, and it is estimated that 1 in 3 seniors in the United States suffer with some degree of diminished hearing ability. It is one of the most common chronic conditions that elderly people face and it can interfere negatively with normal communication. Other communication disorders can affect writing, mobility and cognition. No matter what type of disorder an elderly loved one is dealing with, they should rely on their family caregiver to help them start treatments.
Improving Communication with Seniors
Family caregivers that want to make sure their elderly loved ones with communication disorders get the proper attention from professionals they need to take the first steps toward treatment. For example, an elderly person that has suffered a stroke and some of their facial muscles no longer work properly may have a hard time speaking. A speech and language pathologist can help them strengthen and control those muscles. They will also help them re-learn how to produce proper speech sounds. For hearing loss, an audiologist would work with the aging loved one on getting appropriate hearing aids and presenting other physical and technological options to compensate for their communication disorder.
Family caregivers will also have to compensate for their aging loved one’s communication challenges. With a drop in communication, many seniors experience depression, anxiety and a lower quality of life. Incorporating some easy and practical things into an elderly person’s interactions can be a big help. For hearing loss, family caregivers and home care assistants should reduce background noise like the television or radio, make eye contact when speaking, and enunciate.
Other tips to enhance communication with elderly loved ones includes using nonverbal communication, allowing plenty of time for speaking and responses, alphabet cards, hand-held communication devices, single hand sign language and computers. Family caregivers and home care providers can empower an elderly person with communication disorders in many ways, and make it so that they don’t feel as limited in their ability to interact and get their thoughts and ideas across.
If you or an aging loved one are considering home care services in Old Bridge, NJ, please contact the caring staff at Care Street Home Care of New Brunswick today. Call (732) 607-8870.