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.

Preventing Falls Among Seniors

Each year, one in every three adults age 65 and older falls. Falls can lead to moderate to severe injuries, such as hip fractures and head traumas, and can even increase the risk of early death. Fortunately, falls are a public health problem that is largely preventable.

Tips

Falls are not just the result of getting older. Many falls can be prevented. Falls are usually caused by a number of things. By changing some of these things, you can lower your chances of falling.

You can reduce your chances of falling by doing these things:

1. Begin a regular exercise program.Senior doing Yoga

Exercise is one of the most important ways to reduce your chances of falling. It makes you stronger and helps you feel better. Exercises that improve balance and coordination (like Tai Chi) are the most helpful.

Lack of exercise leads to weakness and increases your chances of falling.

Ask your doctor or health care worker about the best type of exercise program for you.

2. Make your home safer.

About half of all falls happen at home. To make your home safer:

  • Remove things you can trip over (such as papers, books, clothes, and shoes) from stairs and places where you walk.
  • Remove small throw rugs or use double-sided tape to keep the rugs from slipping.
  • Keep items you use often in cabinets you can reach easily without using a step stool.
  • Have grab bars put in next to your toilet and in the tub or shower.
  • Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors.
  • Improve the lighting in your home. As you get older, you need brighter lights to see well. Lamp shades or frosted bulbs can reduce glare.
  • Have handrails and lights put in on all staircases.
  • Wear shoes that give good support and have thin non-slip soles. Avoid wearing slippers and athletic shoes with deep treads.

3. Have your health care provider review your medicines.

Have your doctor or pharmacist look at all the medicines you take (including ones that don’t need prescriptions such as cold medicines). As you get older, the way some medicines work in your body can change. Some medicines, or combinations of medicines, can make you drowsy or light-headed which can lead to a fall.

4. Have your vision checked.

Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor.  You may be wearing the wrong glasses or have a condition such as glaucoma or cataracts that limits your vision.  Poor vision can increase your chances of falling.

This article is from the CDC, please visit their website for more information on Falls and tips on Fall Prevention.

Wii-Hab: How a Video Game Can Help Rehabilitation

Video games are usually considered to be just for kids, and just for fun. But a new therapy known as ‘Wii-hab’ uses the Wii gaming system to help seniors remain active and improve hand-eye coordination. It is not a replacement for normal therapy, but it is a fun and effective way to add some variety to a program. The video below explains more about the ways that Wii-hab works!

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