Nope. Not at all.

In fact, a large proportion of Speech-Language Pathologists work with adults. And when I say adults, I mean young adults to senior adults in their 90s and beyond. The settings we work in also vary widely. In hospitals, our expertise is needed in all stages of care, from the ICU to the rehabilitation wing. Some hospitals, like Toronto Rehab, specialize in rehabilitation, so you will find plenty of us in places like that, too (I know there are others, but TRI is where I learned the ropes, so it is a special place for me!). Other settings include long-term care, palliative care, and specialized treatment centres, such as the Aphasia Institute.

So how does a Speech-Language Pathologist help adults? A very wide variety of issues can affect adults’ communication and swallowing function. (Yeah, we do that, too! Please see the April 15th article). A young adult can experience a brain injury of some kind that affects the parts of the brain that control speaking, understanding, thinking using language, and controlling the swallowing mechanism. Progressive diseases (those that get worse over time, such as ALS or dementia), are highly likely to affect communication and swallowing function. A stroke commonly affects different parts of the brain involved with different aspects of language, in addition to affecting muscle tone and control (which affects speaking and swallowing). The Speech-Language Pathologist is the go-to for many adult concerns.

But let’s not forget the SLP’s involvement in monitoring and teaching strategies to help people with hearing difficulties. Hearing often gets worse as we get older. Whether or not someone wears a hearing aid, the Speech-Language Pathologist plays a key role in providing recommendations to help the person or his/her family make the best of their communication skills.

Please join me this Thursday, April 24 at the Elgin Hearing & Wellness Show at the Canadian Southern Railway Station in St. Thomas. Come see the health care services that are available for adults in lovely Elgin County. Don’t forget to drop by my booth and say hi!