An interview with Mike Howland, CEO
Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center
What can cause onset speech impairment in adults?
There are a variety of reasons why an adult may have onset speech impairment. The onset of speech, swallowing, and/or language disorders in adults may be caused by a stroke, traumatic brain injury, a disease that affects motor skill (ALS, Parkinson’s Disease), cognition (Alzheimer’s Disease), hearing loss, and/or anatomical/structural deviation of the oral cavity (e.g., vocal nodules, polyps, cysts, oral cancer).
How can family members best help a loved one that has a speech impairment?
It can be very difficult to come to accept that there is a disorder. A speech and language pathologist can be a partner who guides the patient and family to identify goals to work on together in order to foster communication and understanding. A few tips we would offer for adult speech disorders and hearing loss include:
• Maintain a natural conversational manner appropriate for an adult.
• Minimize distractions, such as a blaring radio, whenever possible.
• Include the person with a speech or language disorder in conversations.
• Ask for and value the opinion of the person especially regarding family matters.
• Encourage any type of communication, whether it is speech, gesture, pointing, or drawing.
• Avoid correcting the individual’s speech.
• Allow the individual plenty of time to talk.
• Help the individual become involved outside the home. Seek out support groups.
How can hearing loss impact an adult person’s quality of life?
Having a hearing loss can significantly impact a person’s ability to communicate with others, and lead to a reduced quality of life. The most common ways hearing loss can manifest in a person’s life is through:
- increased anxiety,
- social isolation and withdrawal,
- panic disorders,
- social phobias,
- difficulty concentrating, especially when communicating with others.
How can I tell if my parent has hearing loss?
Hearing loss is rarely sudden or total, unless you are exposed to an exceptionally loud noise. It’s usually gradual – sometimes so gradual that your family and friends may notice the problem before you do. Here are ten questions that will help you determine whether friend or family member is suffering from hearing loss. If you answered “yes” to three or more of these questions, you may want to schedule a professional hearing evaluation with an audiologist.
1. Do you have a problem hearing over the telephone?
2. Do you have trouble following the conversation when two or more people are talking at the same time?
3. Do people complain that you turn the TV volume up too high?
4. Do you have to strain to understand conversation?
5. Do you have trouble hearing in a noisy background?
6. Do you find yourself asking people to repeat themselves?
7. Do many people you talk to seem to mumble (or not speak clearly)?
8. Do you misunderstand what others are saying and respond inappropriately?
9. Do you have trouble understanding the speech of women and children?
10. Do people get annoyed because you misunderstand what they say?
How can family members help a loved one that has hearing loss?
Set Your Stage
1. Face person directly.
2. Avoid noisy backgrounds.
3. Get attention first.
Get the Point Across
1. Don’t shout.
2. Speak clearly, at moderate pace, not over-emphasizing words.
3. Re-phrase if you are not understood.
4. Use facial expressions, gestures.