Why do people with Parkinson’s Disease speak softly?

Individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s may have struggle with communicating.  This is one of the possible effects of Parkson’s Disease and is caused by dysfunction in the muscles of the face, mouth and throat.  This can lead to, among other challenges:

  • Speaking very softly
  • Speaking in a monotone voice
  • Mumbled Speech
  • Speaking too quickly

In addition, the loss of dopamine, a chemical in the brain, reduces the ability to recognize that speech is impaired. Thankfully there are ways to reduce the impact that this can make. 

First, as friends and caregivers, we can help by showing kindness, patience, and wisdom.  For example:

  • Unless someone asks you to, don’t try to finish their sentences for them.
  • Give lots of time and attention to try and hear and understand what’s being said.
  • Be honest. Say, “I’m having a hard time hearing/understanding you. Could you repeat that?”
  • Ask questions that require a short answer instead of a lengthy response.

Secondly, for the person diagnosed with Parkinson’s, speech therapy and programs like BIG and LOUD, are a tremendous aid.  Therapists can get certified in the LVST LOUD program. The LVST website summarizes the program like this:

“LSVT LOUD is an intensive, one-on-one treatment delivered over one month’s time. One-hour sessions, four sessions per week, four weeks in a row and includes daily homework and carryover exercises.

The goal is for individuals to “rev up” their stronger voice with daily practice so they can use it comfortably in daily communication. Further, this will become a life-long habit of practice, even after the 16 sessions of treatment are completed.

This concentrated approach is critical for the positive changes LSVT LOUD achieves, consistent with what studies on motor learning and neuroplasticity (the ability for your brain and nervous system to adapt and evolve) show is most effective.”  Read More

If you’d like more information on LVST BIG and LOUD in the Grand Rapids area, call Leaves Personal Care for a consultation.

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