What is a Speech-Language Pathologist?
All speech-language pathologists are trained to evaluate and treat speech, voice, language, cognitive and swallowing disorders that occur as part of the Parkinson's Disease process. However, some SLPs have completed additional certifications specifically for Parkinson's-specific treatment programs.
When Should I See a Speech-Language Pathologist?
You may also notice that you have a harder time thinking. Multi-tasking, remembering, and solving simple problems can be more difficult. You may feel like you're in a "brain fog" more than usual. This can lead to concerns about safety in the workplace and at home.
Another symptom that can occur is more difficulty with eating and swallowing. You or your loved ones may notice that you cough/choke more often while eating. You may start avoiding certain foods that are "hard" to eat.
All these symptoms can be addressed by a speech-language pathologist.
If you experience changes in your speech, thinking, and/or swallowing, ask your doctor to refer you to a speech-language pathologist.
What Should I Expect from a Speech Therapy Visit?
By now, you're probably used to the normal "drill" when you visit a new specialist. Your SLP will gather a complete case history from you. Questions will center around your experiences with communication, thinking, and eating/swallowing. Be sure to bring in a current medication list and discuss any symptoms you're currently experiencing--even if you don't think they're related.
During your evaluation, your speech-language pathologist will administer evaluations to measure speech and voice quality, your thinking skills, and your eating and swallowing safety.
The evaluation will take about 2 hours to complete. After it's complete, your SLP will discuss their finding with you and collaborate with you to create a treatment plan that takes your priorities and goals into consideration.
For More Information About Specific Speech Therapy Programs for Parkinson's Disease, Check Out Our Free E-Book
Then, there's your favorite loved one. The family member you've been looking forward to spending time with most of all. However, this year, you've noticed that Parkinson's Disease has affected their speech, making them much harder to understand.
Here are some hints that can help make it easier for you to understand your loved one in this situation.
5 simple strategies to improve communication when someone is hard to understand
Make Eye Contact
If possible utilize FaceTime, Skype, or similar technologies that allow you to incorporate visual information into your call. This can really help make your phone conversation more engaging and increase overall understanding.
Listening to your loved one with speech changes due to Parkinson's Disease will require more mental effort. Give them your full attention for the best outcome.
Know the Topic of the Conversation, If Possible
Encourage Hand Gestures
Encourage your loved one to incorporate gestures as much as possible into the conversation.
Avoid Walking and Chewing Gum
There are effective, research-based speech programs available for people with Parkinson's