Every six minutes, someone in the United States receives a new diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. The disease typically appears after the age of 60, affecting an estimated 1% of people older than 60 and 5% of people over age 85.
This neurological disorder impacts movement, but speech and communication issues are also very common symptoms. In fact, 89% of individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s experience some form of speech and voice disorders. These difficulties include challenges associated with a person’s voice, body language and making conversations.
With the help and support of speech therapists, there are many ways for people to improve their communication skills and potentially slow down the deterioration of the disease.
At Great Speech, we recognize the importance of this annual awareness event and are grateful for the opportunity to provide support for individuals and caregivers. With so many of our clients impacted by this disease, especially seniors age 60+ on Medicare, we understand how devastating communication issues can be to a person’s emotions and ability to express their feelings and needs.
Please join us in furthering a greater appreciation of these challenges and help us reach more people who can benefit from virtual speech therapy.
How does Parkinson’s disease Affect Communication Skills?
While many people consider Parkinson’s disease to be primarily a movement disorder that affects the central nervous system, including the brain, it can also affect cognition and the ability to speak and communicate effectively:
- Vocal volume may change, and people can develop a hoarse vocal tone, monotone, slur, stutter or may even begin to trail off at the end of a sentence without completing their thoughts.
- Slowing thought processes may make it difficult to find the right words, understand or respond to others in the flow of a conversation.
- Changes can be particularly frustrating for older adults who are accustomed to communicating clearly and freely. This can diminish their interest in socializing or impact work/family relationships.
- Diminished memory and retention challenge individuals with word choice and appropriate word use.
Speech Therapy Helps Parkinson’s Patients and Caregivers
Speech therapists can provide patients with a meaningful assessment and advice on all aspects of speech and communication. Therapists focus on strategies and therapeutic activities that help individuals maintain or restore the ability to communicate. They are trained to uncover speech and communication issues, provide symptom management and recommend specific exercises and programs.
The support of a speech therapist is particularly effective when a person is in the early stages of the condition and the changes may be subtle. Timely monitoring allows the therapist to track changes and document progress.
Family caregivers can also benefit from working with speech therapists. By learning new strategies to assist their loved ones, such as speaking slowly, using short phrases and clearly articulating words, caregivers can provide comfort and support.
Virtual speech therapy is especially helpful for older patients who are dealing with Parkinson’s mobility issues as well as the natural effects of aging that lead to transportation challenges. These issues make leaving home difficult since there may not be assistance readily available in the community and elderly patients may not want to impose on family or friends. Accessing speech therapy services from the comfort of their home is far more convenient and can help improve quality of life with minimal effort.
Expanded Insurance Coverage for Virtual Speech Therapy
Today, Parkinson’s disease patients have more options than ever before for health plan coverage of virtual speech therapy services. Great Speech is proud to partner with the following insurance plans:
- Amerigroup NJ
- Avmed Medicare FL
- BCBSIL Medicare & commercial
- CarePlus Medicare FL
- Cigna Commercial
- Cigna Medicare Advantage
- Devoted Medicare FL
- Healthcare Highways
- Healthnet, a Centene company
- Humana Medicare FL
- MMM of Florida Medicare FL
- Molina Medicare & Commercial FL
- Molina Georgia
- Optum / NAMM California
- United Healthcare Florida
- Wellcare GA
- Zenith American
Great Speech also accepts HSA/FSA & private pay clients.