Speech therapy at home can help eligible patients improve essential skills such as swallowing, processing information and communicating. Often, home health speech therapy patients are dealing with medical issues like stroke, dementia, cancer or brain injuries. Others may have speech issues related to changes in the vocal cords and muscles that often come with age.
If you’re struggling with any of these issues and are eligible for home health, there is no need to suffer in silence. Amedisys speech therapists can work with you, your caregivers and your doctor to create a treatment plan tailored to your needs. You’ll receive encouragement, support and tools to help you manage your condition, in the safety and comfort of home.
WHAT IS SPEECH THERAPY FOR ADULTS?
It is provided by speech-language pathologists (SLPs), also called speech therapists. These specialists have extensive education and training that qualify them to deliver speech therapy services. All Amedisys speech therapists are certified through the American Speech-Language Hearing Association.
With home health care speech therapy, a speech therapist comes to your home. This can be your private residence, a family member’s home, a group home or a senior living community. Our speech therapists can help you recover after an accident or surgery, or manage an acute or chronic illness. You’ll also learn healthy lifestyle tips and exercises you can do on your own to think, communicate, and eat or drink more effectively.
AMEDISYS SPEECH THERAPY SERVICES
What do speech therapists do, and who does speech therapy help? Our in home speech therapy services depend on your needs and doctor’s orders. Some examples include:
- Assessment and treatment of cognitive, language, communication and swallowing disorders
- Care plans to address swallowing and communication problems and improve safety
- Education for patients and caregivers that may include oral motor and breathing exercises, safe swallow strategies and compensatory strategies
- Exercises to strengthen speech muscles and prevent deterioration
- Memory, reasoning, planning, attention, organization and problem-solving tasks
- Visual and auditory aids and other tools for patients with cognitive impairments
- Diet planning, feeding and hydration techniques, and positioning changes to help with swallowing problems
- Articulation, voice and resonance services to improve speech
- Language services such as writing, word-finding, reading and comprehension
- Alternative ways of communicating (verbal and nonverbal), such as special devices, computer, tablet and smartphone
TYPES OF CONDITIONS TREATED
Home based speech therapy can be used to treat a wide variety of conditions. If you’ve had a stroke, certain types of cancer, dementia, a brain injury or neurological condition, you may benefit from exercises to re-learn essential skills so you can stay independent at home. With home care speech therapy, we often treat patients with:
- Inability to talk or communicate
- Brain, throat or mouth cancer
- Parkinson’s disease
- Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) or chewing, often as a result of stroke, progressive neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s and MS, head and neck cancer, pneumonia, dry mouth or other oral changes
- Difficulty finding the right words or using or understanding language, or halting or unclear speech (aphasia or other communication disorders, often related to stroke or brain disorder)
- Using words out of order or trouble forming words (apraxia, often due to stroke)
- Slow, slurred or difficult to understand speech (dysarthria, often related to Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or stroke)
- Weakened vocal cords and/or larynx muscles
- Alzheimer’s disease/dementia and related attention, memory, and problem-solving challenges
- Difficulty speaking, often caused by stroke or brain injury
- Articulation disorders, or the inability to form certain words
- Fluency disorders such as stuttering and cluttering
- Resonance disorders, often related to neurological disorders
- Receptive disorders, often related to hearing loss or head injury
- Expressive disorders, often related to head trauma, medical conditions and hearing loss
- Cognitive-communication disorders, often related to brain injury, stroke or a neurological condition
- High risk of falling, by assisting with cognition, screening for hearing loss, nutrition and hydration
If you meet eligibility requirements, speech therapy for adults may be covered by Medicare, Medicaid or other insurance and provided in the comfort of your home.
SPEECH THERAPY MAY HELP ELIGIBLE PATIENTS IN SITUATIONS LIKE THESE
Rose’s voice is hoarse, raspy and hard to understand due to Parkinson’s disease. With speech therapy, she did exercises to maintain her strength and is now getting out of her room and feeling less depressed.
Don’s COPD makes it hard for him to coordinate his breathing and swallowing. His speech therapist helped him retrain on this skill through breathing techniques, teaching compensatory strategies and respiratory coordination.
Sherry has dementia. Through speech therapy, Sherry has practiced memory and problem-solving tasks. Her caregiver daughter has learned how to help manage her mom’s symptoms and stimulate Sherry’s cognition so she can maintain her current level of cognition as long as possible.
HOW MUCH DOES SPEECH THERAPY COST?
Is speech therapy covered by insurance? If you’re eligible for home health and your doctor orders it for you, the speech therapy cost is typically covered by Medicare, Medicaid and some private insurance plans.
Call an Amedisys home health agency today to learn more.
ARE YOU ELIGIBLE FOR HOME HEALTH SPEECH THERAPY?
If it’s difficult for you to leave home, you may qualify for home health. To be covered by Medicare, you must meet eligibility criteria for home health care. These include:
- You’re considered homebound. This means it’s difficult for you to leave home and you need the help of a supportive device (walker, wheelchair, etc.) or another person to do so; and
- You need part-time or intermittent skilled care. This may include speech therapy, skilled nursing, physical therapy or occupational therapy; and
- Your doctor orders home health for you.
If you don’t meet these home health criteria, speech therapy at home may be an option for you if you pay for it out of pocket or through private insurance. Speech therapy also may be available through an outpatient clinic, rehabilitation center, doctor’s office, private speech therapist practice or hospital.
SIGNS YOU MAY NEED SPEECH THERAPY
If you’ve never had speech therapy before, you may assume changes you’re experiencing are an inevitable and irreversible part of aging. But speech therapy services can greatly improve patients’ quality of life. Look for these signs that you may need speech therapy for adults:
- Have you noticed changes in your speech such as speaking in fragmented phrases, speaking slowly or saying words in the wrong order?
- Is swallowing difficult? Do you cough while eating or feel like something is stuck in your throat or chest?
- Do you find it difficult to request things you need or respond to questions?
- Do you worry about your ability to explain your feelings or needs in an emergency?
- Is it hard to understand others or speak in a way other people can understand?
- Have you stopped speaking as much as usual?
- Is your voice hoarse or raspy?
- Do you get frustrated or angry because it’s hard to understand others or express yourself?
- Do you have a hard time paying attention or solving problems?
- Are you having trouble managing finances or keeping doctor’s appointments because of difficulty communicating?
- Have you been injured (for example, as the result of a fall) or gotten into a dangerous situation?
These may be signs you would benefit from speech therapy at home. If you’re dealing with issues like these, ask your doctor if you meet the criteria for home health speech therapy.
HOW TO DO SPEECH THERAPY AT HOME
What can you expect from speech therapy home visits? What happens in speech therapy for adults, and how does speech therapy work?
With Amedisys, in-home speech therapy starts with an assessment. During the initial visit, we’ll get to know you and your environment and talk with your family/caregivers. We may ask you to do certain tasks or answer questions to help understand your needs.
Your home health SLP will develop a plan that includes the best exercises and tools to help address the tasks you’re having a hard time doing. They will also rule out other factors that may be causing or contributing to your challenges, such as medications or dehydration. You’ll work together to create goals of care and a visit schedule.
At each speech therapy home visit, your therapist may:
- Ask about your medications and any scheduled doctor’s appointments
- Ask if there have been any changes from your last visit
- Check your vital signs, such as your weight, pulse and oxygen saturation
- Educate you and your caregiver so you can be empowered to manage your condition and care at home
- Give you exercises to work on between visits so you can achieve your goals faster
After visits, your speech pathologist will report your progress back to the rest of the home health team and your physician to make sure everyone is up to date on how you’re doing.
HOW LONG DOES SPEECH THERAPY TAKE?
How long speech therapy takes depends on your needs and doctor’s orders. In creating a care plan, your doctor will consider the type of speech issue, frequency of therapy and underlying medical conditions. The speech pathologist will adjust the length of the session and the tasks you focus on so that you feel challenged to develop new skills without feeling frustrated or fatigued.
HOME HEALTH SPEECH THERAPY GOALS
Speech therapy aims to help people maximize their abilities to speak, listen, read, write and swallow. Some of our home health speech therapy goals are to:
- Restore communication, when possible, or find compensatory techniques to maintain your current functionality and prevent further deterioration
- Improve eating and swallowing
- Maintain healthy nutrition and weight, and stay hydrated
- Reduce the risk of choking and aspiration
- Strengthen vocal cords to improve communication
- Increase independence
- Improve quality of life
- Teach family members/caregivers about your condition and appropriate exercises and treatment
After home based speech therapy, patients and caregivers feel more confident doing their exercises and better able to manage safely at home.
HOW DOES SPEECH THERAPY WORK
Speech therapy can be effective for a variety of health conditions. Most patients can hold onto the gains they make during speech therapy home visits by doing exercises as assigned by their speech therapist. Several factors can determine how helpful speech therapy is, including:
- The type of disorder being treated
- The severity of the impairment
- The patient’s age
- How early/late you start speech therapy after onset/injury
- Number and frequency of visits
- Whether the patient practices assigned exercises on their own
Results are typically best when speech therapy home visits begin soon after the injury or onset of your condition. However, you can make progress even if your injury or condition has existed for some time. In these situations, the home health speech therapy goals are typically to maintain your current level of function, prevent deterioration and learn how to manage your condition.
HOW IN-HOME SPEECH THERAPY HELPS
Many people feel home is the best place to receive speech therapy. In addition to being more comfortable, being at home can enhance the benefits of speech therapy for the elderly, so patients can get the most of each session. Here are some of the benefits of speech therapy at home with Amedisys:
- Home health SLPs learn about the patient’s home environment and can tailor therapy to the patient’s specific needs.
- The patient can use their own items in therapy, such as photos for memory tasks and silverware for swallowing tasks. This makes the therapist’s instructions relevant to the patient’s daily life and maximizes the effectiveness of each session.
- By avoiding driving time and expending energy getting to and from appointments, patients can focus their time and energy on therapy.
- Family members and/or caregivers can observe sessions and learn the exercises and techniques. This way, they can help their loved one practice in between sessions and continue to make progress.
- Home health therapy can improve quality of life by enhancing attention, memory, reasoning and problem-solving.
- Patients develop coping strategies, confidence in communicating with others, and better safety awareness and ability to stay independent at home.
- For some, home health therapy makes it possible to stop a feeding tube or start going out to dinner or family gatherings as swallowing improves.
Paula's Speech Therapy Plan
Paula is a 78-year-old who lives with her daughter. She has mid-stage dementia and has started forgetting close family members and recent events. With her worsening disorientation and depression, her daughter worries her mom will soon need more care than she can provide at home.
After talking with Paula’s doctor, Paula gets a referral for home health speech therapy. A speech therapist sets up an initial visit and works with Paula, her daughter and her doctor to develop a plan of care. Based on this plan, Paula will receive:
- An assessment of how she eats, drinks and swallows
- An assessment of her home environment and recommendations to help her adapt to her cognitive challenges
- Exploration of memory aids such as a memory book
- Education for Paula’s daughter about the most effective ways to maintain communication with Paula
The goals of care are to stimulate Paula’s cognitive ability and maintain as much function as possible.
How Speech Therapy Helped Jim After a Stroke
Jim had a stroke last week and has symptoms of aphasia, such as having trouble finding the right words. His speech is garbled and difficult to understand. Jim’s doctor referred him to home health and a speech therapist reached out to set up an initial visit. After a comprehensive assessment, Jim’s speech therapy care plan focuses on:
- Exercises to help him breathe while speaking so he can plan breathing pauses and more easily be understood by others
- Tongue strengthening exercises to make it easier to make the proper sounds to form words
- Practice on specific sounds (such as “ah” and “ay”) to improve his ability to form words as well as forming sentences
The goals of care are to get Jim back as close as possible to his previous level of functioning.
WHY SPEECH THERAPY FOR SENIORS?
Speech therapy can be helpful at any age, but it can be vital for older adults. Here are a few benefits of speech therapy for the elderly:
You may find yourself in an emergency situation if you can’t answer a question or ask for something you need.
The ability to communicate effectively makes it possible to talk with loved ones, make and share memories, and express yourself. Problems in this area can lead to social isolation and loneliness, which can cause both physical and mental health problems.
Speech therapy exercises can make it easier to complete daily tasks like eating and communicating.
Speech therapy for seniors focuses on issues that can interfere with your ability to stay independent.
In addition to addressing speaking abilities, speech therapy can help seniors with dementia preserve attention and problem-solving. Speech therapists can also work with family members and caregivers to improve communication with their loved one.
Quality of Life
Speech therapy can help improve abilities that are fundamental to daily life. Being able to maintain healthy nutrition, socialize with loved ones and communicate needs to healthcare providers makes life easier and more fulfilling.
MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT SPEECH THERAPY AT HOME
1. Speech Therapists Just Help People Talk
People sometimes wonder, “Why do I need speech therapy? I can talk just fine.” Helping people communicate is an important part of speech therapy. However, the best speech therapists can help with much more. We also work to restore patients’ ability to swallow, increase problem-solving ability, and improve memory, thinking, reading and writing skills.
2. Speech Therapy is Mainly for Children with Speech Issues
Many people think speech therapy is for children with a lisp, stutter or other speech issue, but speech therapists care for seniors and adults as well.
3. Speech Therapists are All the Same
Some speech therapists specialize in seniors, while others work with children. They may also have experience in particular settings; for example, home health, hospitals, outpatient clinics or nursing homes.
4. The Issues I’m Having are Just Part of Growing Old
Speech therapy for seniors can help with several issues that often come with age, such as loss of elasticity in the vocal cords and strength in the larynx muscles. Speech therapy can also help after a stroke, head injury or a condition like dementia or cancer, which are not an inevitable parts of growing older. Patients can see significant improvements in their ability to function every day.
WHERE CAN I FIND A SPEECH THERAPIST?
Since home health speech therapy requires a doctor’s order, many patients find speech therapy services through their healthcare provider. Ask your doctor if in home speech therapy could help you. Your doctor may refer you to a home health provider. You have the right to choose the company that best suits your needs. You can call an Amedisys home health agency near you to learn more about options and next steps.
Here are a few considerations when choosing the best speech therapist for your needs:
- What population does the therapist serve most often (e.g., seniors vs. children)?
- What is their area of specialization?
- Does the speech therapist have experience or specialized training in the issues you’re facing?
- Can they come to your home?
- Do you feel comfortable around them or feel confident you’ll be able to build a good rapport over time?
- Does the provider accept your insurance?
- Have you asked your doctor if you qualify for home health care?
Ask your doctor how to do speech therapy at home. Getting care as quickly as possible, especially after a stroke or other health event, can give you the best results.
Call the Amedisys home health agency near you to learn more. We’ll work closely with your doctor to provide speech therapy, as well as any other services as ordered by your doctor, to help you stay independent at home.