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How Parkinson’s Affects Communication Skills

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Seniors with Parkinson’s experience both non-motor and motor symptoms. These cognitive difficulties and mobility problems are part of the progression of Parkinson’s disease, and result in special communication challenges for seniors with PD. Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Parkinson’s care in Douglas County, presents these five ways PD affects communication.

1. Emotions

People use emotional response to connect with one another. Many seniors with Parkinson’s experience facial paralysis that makes it difficult to convey emotions. Understanding the intention behind the words is a large part of the communication process.

2. Gestures
Parkinson’s patients are often unable to express themselves using nonverbal communication such as body language. They cannot gesture with their hands, face, and body like many people because PD often causes stiff muscles. Listening to your loved one closely helps bridge the communication gap.

3. Speech
Most seniors with PD will experience vocal changes over time, making it harder to hear them when they speak. Their speech quality often becomes quieter and breathy. Studies have shown this decline in speech is due to brain changes that affect the ability to follow internal cues that control sound. Exercising the voice has proven to be effective in increasing clarity and volume.

4. Walking

Physical changes to the limbs and body affect movement, making it more difficult for seniors with PD to communicate while in motion. Family members and in-home caregivers might notice a loved one’s voice becomes soft and the clarity decreases when they are moving around. Longer pauses are also common when a senior with PD is trying to express themselves while walking.

5. Memory
Memory loss and cognitive challenges slow think time in Parkinson’s patients. This delay causes seniors with Parkinson’s to process things slower, and seniors often feel that they know certain words but cannot immediately recollect them.

Communication skills can be improved by using vocal and memory exercises. Patience with each other and thinking outside the box allows PD patients to express themselves in their own way.

For more information on caring for a senior loved one with Parkinson’s, reach out to Home Care Assistance of Douglas County. As a trusted provider of hourly and live-in senior care in Douglas County, promoting senior health, wellness, and an overall high quality of life is our top priority. To learn more, call a friendly Care Manager at 720-287-1685 and request a free in-home consultation.