Speech, language disorders are preventable, treatable

6/12/2014, 12:09 a.m.
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Julie Herrera, a case manager at North Shore Medical Center, attended the hospital’s Better Hearing and Speech event to learn more about communication disorders. Lance Wiener, Speech Language Pathologist, gave information on speech and language disorders and the treatments and therapies available to help these conditions.

Speech and language disorders can take many forms and may limit academic achievement, social adjustment and career advancement. An individual may be born with a speech or language disorder, or it may be caused by accidental injury or illness.

Speech Language Pathologists are the professionals who treat all types of speech, language, and related disorders. They hold at least a master’s degree and are certified by the American Speech Language Hearing Association. In Florida, they also are licensed by the state. Speech Language Pathologists work in many different settings. North Shore Medical Center’s team includes Lance Weiner, SLP-CCC, Jimena Blanco, SLP-CCC and Tanya Dalce, SLP-CCC.

Better Hearing and Speech Month is celebrated nationwide during May in order to raise public awareness of speech and language disorders, which affects 14 million Americans.

“Fortunately, most people with speech and language problems can be helped,” said Weiner. “Even if the problem cannot be eliminated, we can teach people with speech and language problems strategies to help them cope. People may not fully regain their capacity to speak and understand, but a Speech Language Pathologist can help them live more independently.”

May’s national awareness focus is to promote communication health of an aging America. To reinforce the important message about communication disorders during May, the Division of Speech Language Pathology at North Shore Medical Center share the following tips on how to help more than 70 million Americans age

55 and older identify and prevent a speech, language or hearing disorder.

As people age, normal changes occur in hearing, speech, language, memory and swallowing.

The warning signs of speech, language and hearing problems include:

• Turning the television louder or asking people to repeat themselves

• 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:

• Get regular checkups, including hearing tests

• Protect your voice; don’t yell or talk in noisy places

• Drink plenty of water

• Avoid smoking

• Turn down the television or radio when talking 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

Unlike many disabilities, speech, language and hearing problems can be prevented. The key is early detection and intervention; the earlier the problem is identified the sooner treatment can begin.

If you suspect that you or your family members have a communication disorder, consult a certified Speech Language Pathologist or Audiologist. These healthcare professionals play an important role working with individuals who are age 55 and older.

They can assist this age group in differentiating between normal aging and having a communication disorder. In addition, tips and techniques can be provided to prevent communication problems and keep your speech, voice and language in top form.

For more information about speech, language or swallowing disorders and prevention, contact the Rehabilitation Services - Speech Language Pathology Outpatient Division at North Shore Medical Center at 305-835-6155.