05 Jun 2015

Let’s Talk, Let’s Eat: How Speech Therapists Help

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At Rockaway Care Center, we have a variety of therapists on staff to assist in recovery and daily living. One particularly special role is that of our speech therapists. Based on their title, most people assume that speech therapists help people with difficulties speaking. While that is a major aspect of their job description, speech therapists are also trained to assist with the use of the mouth and throat not just for speaking but also for difficulties swallowing (dysphagia), eating or drinking. Since speaking, swallowing, eating and drinking share similar mouth muscle function, it makes sense that speech therapists can extend their knowledge to help mouth and throat usage all around.

Speech therapists work with practically all ages – from toddlers to centenarians.  At Rockaway Care Center, speech therapists work with adults in the following departments:

1) Rehabilitation and Recovery. Our recovery program includes many people who benefit from speech therapy, including the following areas:

a. Post Surgery Care

b. Stroke

c. Neurology

d. Pain Management

e. Cancer of the mouth or throat

f. Ventilator Services & Weaning Program

g. Hospice Care – medications related to terminal illness

2) Golden Agers – Daily Living. As the body slows down, so might speech, swallowing, eating and drinking. Rockaway Care Center speech therapists help our golden age residents to live as easily as possible given their new physical realities.

One way in particular that speech therapists help those whose speech suffers is to have them repeatedly sound out phonemes (language sounds) until they are slowly able to form full sentences again.

Speech therapists help the elderly with the following conditions:

a. Parkinson’s Disease

b. Dementia

c. Dysphagia (swallowing difficulties)

d. Apraxia – Mind-mouth discoordination. This is when speech thoughts are difficult to form into words with the muscles of the mouth.

e. Learning tricks to speak, eat and drink with dentures, or without teeth.

The ability to speak, eat, drink and swallow are basic to anyone’s life. If those functions are impaired, the person not only suffers physically, but also emotionally and mentally. Therefore, speech therapy does not exist in a vacuum, but rather is part of a whole regimen of therapy intended to improve life, and speech therapists at Rockaway Care Center work in tandem with medical staff, psychologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and social workers. Together, we are here to provide comprehensive help for all of our residents’ needs.


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