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In our last post, I gave you a closer look into physical therapy at Waunakee Manor. Learning the value of all the different types of services we offer here empowers you and your loved one to get the best care and understand a significant part of your health journey. This can help alleviate the stress and anxiety of working through difficult issues. Information is power, and feeling in control is key to being comfortable in the care process.

That’s why we decided to bring you this series on the essential therapies we provide. This post will give you a more in-depth overview of another crucial part of our care strategies here at Waunakee Manor: speech therapy.

Speech therapy is the therapeutic treatment of issues relating to speech, language, communication, cognition, and swallowing. Speech therapists specialize in this type of therapy and are also sometimes known as speech pathologists.

Speech therapy can be helpful on its own or as part of an integrated therapy approach with physical and occupational therapy. Either way, it is an extremely beneficial and important piece of the care puzzle.

Some speech therapy activities that can benefit your loved one include:

  • Articulation of words and phrases – This focuses on correctly vocalizing and physically forming words with the proper pronunciation and sounds.
  • Communication-based activities – Community members work to improve communication and engagement through reading and effectively conveying ideas.
  • Oral exercises – These strengthen mouth muscles which promote healthy eating, swallowing, and drinking.
  • Additional oral motor skills – Rehabilitating and strengthening mouth and throat muscles is a critical component that helps with speech therapy.

Speech therapy is required when communication or swallowing issues develop due to several reasons, including:

  • Chronic pain or after significant health events (such as a stroke) – Speech therapy is frequently warranted after a neurological event, such as a stroke.
  • Age can also be a factor -– As we get older, our vocal cords can become weakened and more fragile. A speech therapist may be required to assist in this situation.
  • Other illnesses, diseases, chronic conditions, or disorders – For example, our speech therapists help those with multiple sclerosis.
  • Additional symptoms from health incidents – Speech therapy may also be needed after an accident, medical incident, or procedure when there is persistent brain fog or confusion. If this manifests in difficulty with communication, speech therapy can be very beneficial.
  • Need for better communication – I will discuss this in detail further down, but speech therapy can be very effective when thought of as the sum total of improving communication, not just the rehabilitation of the mechanics of speech. As always, we like to look holistically at our community members and their therapy needs.

Benefits you or your loved one may experience from speech therapy:

  • Strengthened vocal cords – This is one of the primary and most straightforward benefits of speech therapy. It is so crucial for anyone experiencing speech and communication issues later in life or after an injury.
  • Improved eating and swallowing – Helping your loved one enhance skills for safer eating practices and swallowing can provide them with greater independence and a more enjoyable dining experience. We also assist them with vital guidance and management of dietary requirements. Based on each community members’ needs and abilities to eat and swallow, we will adjust their diet accordingly. Importantly, this helps to ensure safety while eating during meals.
  • Increased brain strength and mental health (especially for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia) – The practice of communication, articulation, and even eating can help preserve and possibly slightly improve cognitive functions and memory. We also work with our community members on techniques to help them live more easily with some of these cognitive and memory-based deficits. Where there is little room for improvement, we provide tools to adapt to and work around these cognitive hurdles.
  • Enhanced quality of life – Improving an individual’s ability to eat and increase socialization and independence through better communication can have a tremendous impact on our community member’s happiness and enjoyment of day-to-day activities.
  • A complete rehabilitation process – After a trauma such as a stroke or other damage to the mind, speech therapy may be a necessary step on the road to recovery.

The goal of speech therapy:

As with physical therapy, the speech therapist’s goal is to get you back to where you were before.

Being able to care for yourself, speak, and converse is essential not just for our community members’ happiness and well-being but also for their safety and health. Through these practices, we hope to help those we work with reclaim control of their voice, speech, and life.

Whether they have been dealing with these issues for a while or this is a relatively new issue, we look to set a benchmark of improvement and work hard to help those in our care achieve an increased level of speech and communication. We focus not just on your speech but on communication, understanding, and how that helps you move through your world.

A common challenge we face when working with our community members is reading pill bottles or communicating needs around medication. This and other simple tasks that most of us take for granted, such as using a phone, which is essential if the need arises to call for help, requires good and intelligible speech patterns. These common actions are essential for many of our community members, so we go above and beyond to help with this.

What makes speech therapy special at Waunakee Manor?

Some of the examples above deal with multiple layers and types of therapy. In a positive therapeutic environment, you are treating the whole person. This means not focusing on one specific type of therapy.

Since our therapists are in-house, we have more freedom to communicate with other elements of your loved one’s treatment and bounce ideas off each other. Difficulties with communication can have many causes, and some answers may require outside-the-box thinking, or at least outside of speech therapy. Sometimes, that extra step is needed to help folks truly return to where they want to be.

We find it is easier, with a more interconnected approach, to determine those key pieces. If we were siloed in our therapy, like many other long-term care communities, these answers would be more difficult to assess or may not ever present themselves.

We work better together!

After reading two of these pieces, I hope you have a better appreciation for rehab and therapy’s holistic nature. This is the extra level of care that truly makes a difference for our community members and is what makes Waunakee Manor special.

And you’re part of this complete picture as well. We know how difficult having a loved one who needs these therapies can be, and how difficult it is to go through therapy yourself. So, we never want you to feel like you can’t reach out to us with any questions and concerns, or just to make sure everything is going smoothly.

It is also vital that we always keep an open line of communication about your loved one. We see them every day, but often with a particular goal or type of care in mind. You see them as your dad, your mom, your brother, your sister, or a life-long friend. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, please let us know. You can be an essential part of their care because you know them in a way we don’t.

So, when you need us, don’t hesitate to give us a call or send us a message. Together, we can make a difference for those we care about most.