May is Better Hearing and Speech Month. The Speech Therapists at the Brian Center of Durham would like to help raise awareness to help more than 70 million Americans age 55 and older identify, prevent and treat a speech, language, cognitive or swallowing disorder. As people age, normal changes occur in speech, language, memory, and swallowing. Once an individual turns 55, their chances of having a hearing loss, suffering a stroke, developing dementia or Parkinson's disease increases which can lead to a related communication disorder.

Warning signs of speech, language, and hearing problems include:

  • Sudden trouble talking, thinking, or moving parts of your body could be a sign of a stroke, and you should see a doctor immediately
  • Difficulty or discomfort while swallowing
  • Trouble remembering appointments or how to do familiar tasks
  • A hoarse voice or easily losing your voice
  • Trouble speaking clearly that gets worse over time

Tips for preventing communication disorders:

  • Reduce your risk for stroke - stop smoking, control your blood pressure, exercise regularly
  • Use helmets and seat belts to prevent brain injury
  • Get regular checkups, including hearing tests, to stay in top form
  • Protect your voice - don't yell or talk in noisy places, drink plenty of water, and avoid smoking
  • Turn down the TV or radio when you talk with others - you'll hear each other better and you won't have to speak loudly
  • Keep your mind sharp - do puzzles, read, and keep up with current events
  • Stay active and social - do things with friends and get involved in your community

For most Americans 55 and older, unlike many disabilities, speech and language problems can be prevented. The key is early identification and intervention; the earlier a problem is identified the sooner treatment can begin.

If you suspect that you or a family member has a communication or swallowing disorder, please feel free to contact Brian Center Health and Rehab - Durham. We can assist in differentiating between normal aging and having a communication disorder. Our speech therapists can provide tips and techniques to prevent communication or swallowing problems and keep your speech, voice, and language in top form.

Thank you to our dedicated and knowledgeable Speech Therapists in Durham - Melissa Isner, Emily Wilkie, Erin Maruzzella, and Jennifer Lord for all they do for the residents and patients here at Brian Center Health and Rehab - Durham.

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