How to Address Apraxia of Speech in Adults
When our elders are faced with a health issue, sometimes it can result in other health issues. For instance, someone has high blood pressure that leads to a heart attack. Or a loved one has a stroke and then loses function in one part of their face. It is often a struggle for our once vibrant loved ones to deal with debilitating health problems. And speech is at the top of the list when it comes to things we do not wish to lose control of. How else can we express our emotions, anger, or communicate desires?
How Does an Adult Develop Apraxia?
When we discuss apraxia of speech, often we speak of young children who have difficulty speaking due to developmental issues. For adults, it can be an entirely different matter. Here are the top causes of apraxia of speech in an adult:
- Head injury (from a fall or an accident)
- Brain tumors
- Progressive neurological disorders
Apraxia does require a diagnosis and often includes assessing the oral-motor skills, speech sound production in a variety of contexts, and melody of the speech. As you can see, it’s quite easy for an elderly person to develop apraxia at such a late stage in life.
Treatments for Apraxia in Adults
Treating an adult patient with apraxia can be a little more challenging than with a child, although we’re sure there are a few parents who will readily admit that their child was certainly not a cooperative patient! Adult patients often suffer emotionally at their sudden loss of communication and a speech therapist must be extremely calm and patient when dealing with this sort of manner. Some treatments will include:
- Mouth exercises to help re-train muscles
- Repeating words spoken by a therapist
- Retraining lips and tongue for proper pronunciation
- Learning sign language
Some of these treatments will depend on the severity of the apraxia. Just like a child, the adult will need to practice outside of speech therapy to see the best improvement they can. They have the same options as a child as well, such as practicing with another person and using apps on their mobile device or computer.
Apraxia of speech can be a frustrating issue to handle. When dealing with an older adult, one who has been speaking for a long time, it can be even more frustrating. They feel ashamed of this new inability, they try so hard to make the words and yet their body fails them; and at times they often feel like no one is listening. The aging process has suddenly crept in on them and they worry about their future intensely. Gaining the ability to speak as they once did, or as close as possible, is a huge boon to their self-esteem and often helps them heal quicker from their ailments.