Understanding Speech Changes in Parkinson’s Disease

Most people associate Parkinson’s disease (PD) with its motor symptoms, such as tremor and muscle rigidity. However, PD affects the body in other ways. One of the non-motor symptoms that your aging relative with PD may experience is changes in their speech. The changes can be frustrating and make it difficult to communicate with others.

Home Care Services Los Angeles CA - Understanding Speech Changes in Parkinson’s Disease

Home Care Services Los Angeles CA – Understanding Speech Changes in Parkinson’s Disease

Speech Problems that May Occur

Not everyone with PD will experience speech problems. And, those who do have speech problems won’t all have the same kinds of symptoms.

Some of the speech changes that can occur with PD are:

  • Slurred speech.
  • A quiet voice that sounds breathy or hoarse. It can be difficult for others to hear, so the PD patient may be asked to repeat themselves often.
  • Rapid speech.
  • Mumbling.
  • Monotone voice.
  • Slowed speech because of an inability to think of the right words.

When talking about the speech problems of PD, you may hear the doctor use terms like:

Hypophonia: This term is used to describe the soft voice caused by muscles becoming weaker.

Dysarthria: This is a motor symptom that affects speech. It happens when PD impacts the muscles used to produce speech.

Tachyphemia: This term describes when a PD patient speaks too rapidly and stammers. It is sometimes called cluttering.

Tips for Dealing with Speech Changes

Difficulties with speaking can make communication so difficult and frustrating for seniors with PD that they withdraw from social interactions. There are some medications that may help with speech problems, but they may still occur as the medication wears off.

Some ways the older adult can deal with speech changes when they do happen are:

  • Sit or stand up straight.
  • Try to relax.
  • Imagine speaking to a crowd in a large room so that the voice must be projected without shouting.
  • Use short sentences and stress the important words.
  • Speak slowly and concentrate on forming the words clearly.
  • Sing! Singing is a good way to exercise the muscles used for speaking, which may make speaking easier.

Your aging relative may also want to work with a speech pathologist to improve their communication. They can help with all of the aspects of communication, including speaking, facial expressions, and body language, which can all be impacted by PD. The speech pathologist will work with the older adult to address their specific problems and concerns.

Home care services can also help your older family member with PD to communicate and remain involved with friends and families. A home care services provider can be an advocate for the older adult when they feel embarrassed about their speech. The home care services provider can also help them to communicate what they are trying to get across by interpreting their language and assisting them during conversations.

Sources: https://parkinsonsdisease.net/symptoms/speech-difficulties-changes/

https://www.verywellhealth.com/parkinsons-disease-related-speech-and-language-problems-2612189

https://www.parkinsonsvic.org.au/parkinsons-and-you/speech-and-communication/

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