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Effects of Parkinson’s on Speech and Communication

By Kevin McClarren, 9:00 am on

If your elderly loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you can help him or her maintain a higher quality of life by having a better understanding of its symptoms. Though most of the symptoms related to the condition involve motion, changes in speech and communication are not uncommon. Warren elder care experts discuss some of the ways Parkinson’s disease can impact your loved one’s speech.

As Parkinson’s progresses, changes in memory skills may make it difficult for your loved one to remember certain words. Seniors with Parkinson’s often have a sense of what they want to say, but lack the tools to find the correct words. Because of these difficulties, it may be helpful to give your loved one a long time to formulate ideas during conversations so he or she isn’t left out.

In addition to the mental hurdles to communication that come with Parkinson’s, speaking becomes more physically difficult as well. The disease can cause people’s voices to become quieter and develop a breathy, hoarse tone. Many seniors with Parkinson’s also speak slower than they did before developing the disease, while some actually begin to speak faster as the disease progresses. Often, these people try to speak so quickly they stumble over their words and stutter.

Trying to walk or do other activities while talking can exacerbate the problems with speech that can accompany Parkinson’s. Speech can become more difficult to understand, especially if your loved one is attempting to form complex sentences. Alternatively, speech can remain unimpaired while mobility decreases because focusing on talking may make it harder to maintain balance.

There are many therapies and devices that have proven useful in managing Parkinson’s speech complications. The Lee Silverman Voice Treatment is a month-long voice training course that has been proven to increase the clarity and volume of a person’s speech. Many seniors with Parkinson’s have found success using in-ear sound generating devices to induce them to speak louder. These devices can sense when speech is getting quiet and play a background noise in the ear. This causes the person wearing the device to speak louder so they can hear themselves over the noise.

For more information on caring for a senior loved one with Parkinson’s, reach out to Home Care Assistance. In addition to Parkinson’s home care Warren families trust, we also offer specialized Alzheimer’s, dementia, and stroke care, and our caregivers can provide assistance with mobility as well as cognitive and social stimulation to ensure your loved one remains healthy and happy. To learn more and to request a free consultation, please call a qualified Care Manager at 908.450.9400 today.