Let the (Word) Games Begin

It was about three years ago that mom and I had gone in for her hearing aid check-up and saw a poster that talked about "word finding." I hadn't known what that was at the time, but that sure described my mom.

The poster showed a woman with grey hair and said speech therapy can help. Mom signed up and started meeting with Lindsay. She had a long string of letters after her name: MS-CCC/SLP.

Lindsey's credentialing

A Google search told me that CCC-SLP stands for Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology, a nationally recognized professional credential from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

It's the premier certification for speech therapists who have completed at least a master's program in speech-language pathology. Thank you for the insight, Google.

Lindsay has her master's degree and has finished all of her coursework, plus a clinical residency. She has dotted all the i's and crossed all the t's and has the blessings of the governing body for her profession.

Speech-language pathology

I have heard of a speech pathologist and speech therapist. I didn't know the difference. Hey, Google...

In a word: none. The terms "speech therapist" and "speech pathologist" have been used for years as titles for people who work with a person who is experiencing communication impairments.

In the past, the term "speech pathologist" was used by professionals to describe themselves, but the term most commonly used today is a speech-language pathologist or "SLP."

Speech-language pathologists also address the needs of persons who exhibit difficulties with cognitive functions (attention, memory, problem-solving).

Speech pathologists also help with swallowing issues, which can happen as Alzheimer's disease progresses. We aren't there, yet.

Puzzles and problem-solving

Lindsay was so helpful, giving mom puzzles that helped her with her problem-solving skills. Mom was proud of herself for figuring it out and for remembering all of the words she was asked to remember. She said if she said them fast, she remembered them easier. Also, if she repeated them to herself that helped too.

These are a couple of the strategies that Lindsay taught mom that she still uses, as well as stopping and giving herself permission to try to come up with what she is trying to say. She will stop and close her eyes and take a breath.

Have you tried it? It is pretty helpful. I need to do that more often.

Homework and exercise

Lindsay also gives homework and suggests word search puzzles. I found some large-print books at the dollar store, as well as Walmart. Reading is good exercise.

Exercise is also good exercise! Get moving! Blood needs to circulate through the body and the brain. It's too easy for mom to be sedentary.

Books and puzzles she does while seated. She likes to watch mystery shows. We talk about "Whodunit?"

Does the shoe fit?

We need a new speech pathologist now. Lindsay has left the practice and taken a job that she is excited about and a good opportunity for her family.

The new person has a lot to live up to. It's like the letter the kids wrote to Mary Poppins. I think that's who I'm looking for!

WANTED: An SLP for an adorable grandmother. Cheery disposition, rosy cheeks, no warts! Plays all sorts of games. You must be kind and witty. Never too cross and won't scold - I'll leave off the part about pepper in tea and toads. Clinical experience can meet us in the stages mom is in and work with us going forward.

Thank you, Lindsay!

We will miss you, Lindsay. Thank you for all of your help and for setting a good example of what we need going forward. Have you or a loved one had speech therapy? What strategies have been helpful? What is some good "homework"? Tell us in the comments below, or share your story with the community.

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