Managing Speech Disorders During a Short-Term Care Stay

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As we recognize Better Hearing and Speech Month during May, it is important to understand how our ability to communicate can be affected as we age. This is particularly critical to consider if you or a loved one has experienced a medical emergency that has led to a speech or communication disorder such as a stroke, Parkinson’s disease, or other type of brain injury.

While speech disorders can present unique challenges and impact a person’s independence, a short-term stay at a post-acute care center can significantly improve a person’s ability to communicate effectively. This level of care provides each individual with comprehensive evaluations, personalized care, and the communication tools they require to achieve their unique goals and improve their quality of life.

Common Speech Disorders

Speech and language disorders may be caused by a variety of different factors as a person ages, but the most common causes include stroke, brain injury, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis (MS). Following one of these medical emergencies a person may have developed a common communication disorder such as:

Aphasia can affect how a person communicates, writes, and comprehends language. It is often caused by a stroke or severe head injury.

Cognitive-Communication Disorders can impact a person’s thinking and cognitive abilities. A person may have challenges with memory, problem solving, organizing or forming their thoughts, and paying attention.

Apraxia of Speech is a disorder that can affect a person’s speech production, or ability to articulate words, as the brain attempts to coordinate the movements required. This disorder is typically caused by a stroke or brain injury.

Dysarthria is a motor speech disorder that impacts the muscles used for speech and breathing which can involve slurred or a slower rate of speech. This is often cause by a nervous system disease such as Parkinson’s disease, MS, or other type of neurological disorder.

Managing Your Speech Disorder During Post-Acute Care

Upon arriving at a short-term care center following a hospitalization, your healthcare team will work with you and your family to develop a comprehensive care plan that is tailored to your unique communication disorder. This may comprise of a variety of strategies to help address your individual needs and challenges including speech-language therapy, augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), environmental modifications, and ongoing support and confidence building.

Speech Therapy

Participating in speech therapy is one of the most important approaches a person can take during their post-acute care recovery. Your care team will work with your speech-language pathologist (SLP) to develop a therapy plan designed to address your specific medical needs. They will initiate ongoing assessments to evaluate your progress and make modifications to your care as needed.

Speech therapy focuses on improving verbal expression, memory retention, and communication in speaking, problem solving, writing, and reading. This may include a variety of techniques such as working on identifying verbal and vocal cues, repeating words and sounds, or practicing tongue and lip movements to improve motor communication challenges. Speech therapy can also include a variety of exercises to enhance speech production including articulation exercises, vocal cord strengthening, and breathing exercises.

Alternative Communication Techniques

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) techniques may be offered at a post-acute care center for residents with severe speech impairments to help overcome communication challenges upon their return home. This may include visual boards, communication devices, voice-generating apps, or gestures such as sign language. This level of alternative support ensures a resident is still able to improve their communication regardless of their ability to speak verbally.

    Environmental Factors

    While a person is working on improving their communication skills during their short-term care stay, it is important to be aware of the environmental factors that can impact their recovery progress. Your healthcare team is dedicated to creating an environment conducive to managing and improving your speech disorder. This includes minimizing loud background noise, ensuring there is enough lighting, and using visual aids when appropriate to improve speech comprehension and facilitate clearer conversations.

    Tips for Communicating with Your Loved One

    If your loved one requires care for a speech disorder, it is important to consider providing them with additional encouragement and support by being a good communication partner. Whether your loved one has difficulty articulating language or faces challenges with expressing themselves, it is critical to help them understand you better. Consider these steps when you are communicating with your loved one who has a speech disorder:

    • Ask how your loved ones prefer to communicate.
    • Slow down your speech.
    • Keep words simple and use short sentences.
    • Use visuals, gestures, writing, and facial expressions.
    • Be patient while your loved one is communicating.
    • Let them know if you are having trouble understanding, don’t make assumptions.
    • Watch their gestures and visual cues.
    • Remove distractions such as loud music or TV noise.
    • Educate yourself about communication disorders.

    During your loved one’s recovery, it is essential to provide them with encouragement and empathy as they navigate their rehabilitation journey. Taking the time to understand and support them as they work to improve their communication challenges can foster a positive environment that is conducive to an optimal recovery.  

    Prestige Care is Here to Help

    If your loved one has been diagnosed with a communication disorder following a hospitalization, they may require speech therapy at a post-acute care center in order to help manage their speech challenges and accelerate their recovery.

    At Prestige Care, we understand the challenges and frustrations a person may encounter after experiencing a medical emergency that has impacted their ability to communicate. Whether an individual is experiencing speech challenges resulting from a stroke, or other neurological health condition, our speech therapists at Prestige work with them, their family, and each member of their healthcare team to ensure they are receiving the care they need to improve their speech and regain their confidence upon their return home.

    We provide each person with the tools they require to manage their communication disorder and empower them to overcome their language barriers. Our goal is to help each person regain their independence in communication to ensure they are able to stay connected with their loved ones and improve their overall quality of life.

    Learn more about our speech therapy programs by contacting a Prestige Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center near you.