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Helping a Senior with Parkinson’s Communicate

By Ted Holmgren, 9:00 am on

April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month, and with the month in full-force, we want to use this blog to address a common issue affecting seniors with Parkinson’s.

If you have a loved one who receives Parkinson’s home care in Chandler, then you likely understand the challenges they face on a daily basis. However, perhaps none of these challenges are as frustrating as the inability to communicate with friends and family. Here, you will learn the causes behind communication issues and what you can do to help your elderly loved one.

Causes of Speech Issues

There are a number of reasons why a senior with Parkinson’s may have trouble communicating. These include cognitive as well as physical limitations, such as:

  • An inability to remember which words to use. Sometimes, people with Parkinson’s are simply unable to put together or understand complex sentences.
  • Trouble understanding emotions and gestures. This can make it difficult for individuals with Parkinson’s to understand the context being used, and can make communication difficult.
  • Speech and voice trouble. It is estimated that 90% of Parkinson’s patients will experience voice changes or a complete inability to speak at some point in their lives.
  • An inability to speak while performing other tasks. Cognitive limitations may make it difficult for a senior with Parkinson’s to talk or carry on a conversation while attempting to walk or perform other simple, everyday tasks.

Giving the Right Kind of Help

Unfortunately, there’s no standard speech therapy that fits every senior with Parkinson’s. This is where you and your loved one’s Chandler caregiver will often need to be creative and keep trying until you find an approach that seems to work for you and your loved one. Some things that can make communication easier include:

  • Providing gentle cues if it seems as if your loved one is unable to remember a word or phrase that completes his or her thought.
  • Explaining emotions and gestures when necessary, and exaggerating facial expressions and gestures so that they are more easily recognizable.
  • Working with a speech therapist who specializes in treating patients with Parkinson’s. These individuals use specific tools and therapies to help regain control of the muscles used for speech.
  • Practicing speech while performing other tasks. Oftentimes, repeating a sentence or two while walking, washing dishes, or performing some other task can be therapeutic.

Does your loved one with Parkinson’s need additional help around the home? Home Care Assistance Chandler can help. Our caregivers are compassionate, patient, and expertly trained, and can assist on an hourly or live-in basis depending on the level of care your loved one needs. Learn more about the services available in your area by calling 480.448.6215 and scheduling a complimentary in-home consultation with one of our trusted Care Managers.