Promoting Communication Health

Compiled by, Lisa Mowry, Speech Therapist,
Hebrew Health Care Rehabilitation Services from
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

To reinforce the important messages about communication disorders during May (Better Hearing and Speech Month), the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) released tips to raise awareness to help more than 70 million Americans age 55 and older identify and prevent a speech, language or hearing disorder.

As people age, normal changes occur in hearing, language, memory, and swallowing. Once an individual turns 55, their changes of having a hearing loss, suffering a stroke, developing dementia or Parkinson’s disease increases which can lead to a related communication disorder.

Warning signs of speech, language, and hearing problems include:

• Sudden trouble talking, thinking, or moving parts of your body – this could be a sign of a stroke, and you should see a doctor immediately.

• Turning the TV louder or asking people to repeat themselves.

• Trouble remembering appointments or how to do familiar tasks.

• A hoarse voice or easily losing your voice.

• Trouble speaking clearing that gets worse over time.

Tips for preventing communication disorders:

• Reduce your risk for stroke – stop smoking, control your blood pressure, exercise regularly.

• Use helmets and seat belts to prevent brain injury.

• Get regular checkups, including hearing tests, to stay in top form.

• Protect your voice – don’t yell or talk in noisy places, drink plenty of water, and avoid smoking.

• Turn down the TV or radio when you talk with others – you’ll hear each other better and you won’t have to speak loudly.

• Keep your mind sharp – do puzzles, read, and keep up with current events.

• Stay active and social – do things with friends and get involved in your community.

PROMOTING COMMUNICATION HEALTH 

For most Americans 55 and older, unlike many disabilities, speech, language, and hearing problems can be prevented. The key is early identification and intervention; the earlier a problem is identified the sooner treatment can begin.

If you suspect that you or family members have a communication disorder, consult a certified speech language pathologist or audiologist. Speech-language pathologists and audiologists play an important role in working with individuals who are 55 and older. These professionals can assist this age group in differentiating between normal aging and having a communication disorder. They can provide tips and techniques to prevent communication problems and keep your speech, voice, and language in top form.

For more information about speech, language, and hearing disorders and prevention, visit http://www.asha.org or contact Lisa Mowry, our Speech-Language Pathologist at lmowry@hebrewhealthcare.org.

About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for more than 166,000 audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems including swallowing disorders.

Winter Fitness Tips

Jim Vernadakis PTA, Assistant Director of Rehabilitation Services

Have you made your New Year’s Resolution yet? The most common for the New Year is to lose weight and as we all know diet alone may not be enough. If you are not one for expensive health clubs or personal trainers, a simple walking program may be for you, and consider that exercising in the cold burns more calories!

Here are a few tips, but most importantly always see your doctor before starting any exercise program.

1. Check the thermometer and dress accordingly. The National Safety Council states that temperatures as low as 20 degrees with a 30 mph wind is safe to exercise in provided you dress properly.
2. Dress in layers. The inner layer should be of material that whisks moisture away. Wear wind repellant fabrics such as Gore-Tex.
3. Start slowly. Until you’ve mastered the cold weather, shorten your workout. If you usually walk 4 miles in warm weather, begin with 2 miles and slowly increase.
4. Protect your skin. Limit skin exposure and wear sunscreen on uncovered skin. Watch for signs of frostbite!!!
5. Try to workout later as temperatures warm.

Here are a few popular cold weather activities and estimated calories burned in 60 minutes:
• Ice Skating – 500 calories
• Cross country skiing – 500 calories
• Downhill skiing – 300 calories
• Walking – 200 to 300 calories