It can be emotionally draining to watch an elderly parent or a beloved senior begin to experience communication issues as a family caregiver.
Perhaps you have memories of meaningful talks with your elderly parent or can remember them speaking out and entertaining people at the neighborhood jamboree party. Whichever memories you have, it can be frustrating and a bit scary to watch your loved one having difficulties keeping up a simple conversation or stop talking completely.
But why do elderly stop talking? Developing communication disorders is a very common occurrence among older adults, and it can eventually take a significant toll on their quality of life. The best thing you can do to help as a family caregiver is to look for new ways to communicate with your beloved elderly, making sure they feel loved, supported, and understood.
Why Do Elderly Stop Talking?
Over time, most older adults begin to have trouble speaking, hearing, and processing information, affecting their speaking ability. Although some of these changes are natural and entirely normal, in some instances, difficulty in communicating can be a sign of a severe underlying condition.
If your elderly parent or beloved senior is fronting changes in their ability to speak, listen and communicate, it might be due to some common conditions or diseases. Here are some conditions linked to communication disorders in the elderly.
1. Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia can greatly affect an elderly’s ability to speak and communicate. When parts of the brain responsible for comprehension and speech are damaged, it can impact their ability to process and understand language. Concurrently, dementia symptoms can make it harder for older adults to articulate thoughts and express their feelings clearly.
Although Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias are progressive and incurable, sometimes therapies can improve communications skills among the elderly with the disease. However, since Alzheimer’s is irreversible, you must be prepared to adapt your loved one’s communication patterns when speaking with them.
2. Stroke-related Aphasia
Aphasia is a communication disorder that impedes one’s ability to understand and use language. According to the National Stroke Association, stroke is the leading cause of aphasia in older adults and a quarter of seniors who have a stroke are likely to develop aphasia.
There are several different types of aphasia that may affect seniors, and it’s a good idea to consult with a healthcare provider or physician if you think your elderly parent may be at risk.
Most people do rather recover from aphasia, but not when symptoms have persisted for more than six months after the stroke. The effective treatment for aphasia is speech therapy.
3. Hearing Loss
Approximately one-third of all adults above the age of 60 may experience some hearing problems, and that number may increase to half in seniors over 80. Sadly, hearing loss can be very troubling to the elderly and their families in large if not recognized.
But there are several actions family caregivers can take to help, including helping connect the elderly with specialized physicians or developing new communication strategies.
Both minor and major hearing loss can crumble an elderly’s comfort and communication ability. Even worse, it may greatly impact an aging adult’s confidence and skill at keeping up with a conversation. Common signs of hearing loss include:
- Frequently asking partners to repeat themselves
- Listening to music or watching TV at deafening volumes
- Avoiding social interactions
- Feeling tired and stressed to concentrate while listening
- Finding it difficult to carry on with a conversation
4. Sensory and Cognitive Changes
Some common effects of aging can also impact a senior’s communication ability. For instance, minor or major vision loss can affect an elderly’s ability to speak the lines and hold conversations.
Most aging adults usually experience slower mental processing and less working memory, making it more difficult to keep up with complex, all-around conversations.
5. Dysarthria and Dysphonia
Mental and physical changes can, over time, impact an elderly’s ability to speak clearly, which in most cases could cause them to stop trying to communicate. A typical speech disorder, dysphonia, can make speaking difficult and painful. At the same time, dysarthria disorder may affect pronunciation and speech rhythm.
Dysarthria can sometimes be related to Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), which can also contribute to communication disorders among the elderly.
Frequently Asked Questions on Why Do Elderly Stop Talking
At What Stage of Dementia is Loss of Speech in the Elderly?
Stage 7 (Late-State Dementia). An elderly in this stage usually cannot speak or communicate and requires help with most activities, such as walking. During this stage, caregivers should mainly focus on providing comfort and quality of life.
Why is Communication Important with the Elderly?
In your interaction with the elderly, effective communication can reduce conflicts, misunderstandings, and stress. Maintaining a cheerful mood and enhancing good interpersonal relations are also essential.
When communicating with your beloved senior, pay attention to the physical, psychological, and environmental aspects of the individual situation, and apply proper communication skills. Appropriate time arrangement and thoughtfulness are also essential.
How Can I Improve Communication with the Elderly?
As adults grow older, it becomes harder for them to communicate effectively. Cognitive and sensory losses that usually come with aging can often create barriers to communication. Luckily you can overcome these impediments with a bit of effort and attention.
Here are some essential tips to help you communicate more effectively with the elderly.
1. Sit face to face
2. Allow more time for the elderly
3. Maintain eye contact
5. Avoid distractions
6. Use short, simple words and sentences
7. Speak slowly, clearly, and loudly
What Does It Mean When an Elderly Suffering from Dementia Stop Talking?
The neurological reason older adults living with dementia stop talking differ from one person to another. The part of the brain that controls speech may be damaged from vascular incidents for some seniors, while for others, the tangles and plaques linked with Alzheimer’s Disease may impede communication.
As a family caregiver, it’s crucial to know when to reach out for help. Managing an elderly adult’s care plan can be plenty to handle on your own, especially when your beloved senior is having challenges with speaking, hearing, or communicating.
In such cases, home care offered by an experienced elderly companion can be a valuable resource for the older adults and the family caregivers who love and support them. An elderly companion can help provide personalized care and services an aging adult needs to live independently. Besides, this companion is a welcoming face who can enrich an elderly life by sharing meals, playing games, and always being there when needed.