I had the opportunity to interview Jessica Fisher, who is a SLP at a local skilled nursing facility, for Careers in Aging Week! Jessica shared some insight on working with older adults:
What do you do as a Speech-Language Pathologist?
I work in a local skilled nursing facility where we serve patients with a variety of speech-language, cognitive, and dysphagia (swallowing) deficits. We focus a lot on goals to help patients regain prior level of cognitive functioning (memory, problem solving, safety awareness, insight, etc.) to be able to return to their home environment as safely as possible. For our long term residents who have a cognitive decline, we focus on functional ways to promote memory and safety in their daily environment in order to maintain as much independence as possible. For patients who have swallowing issues, we help determine the safest diet level, work on strengthening and compensatory strategies and ultimately try to upgrade to the least restrictive diet to promote increased quality of life.
What is your favorite part of working with older adults?
I love working with older adults because they have so much wisdom and insight to share from the stories of their lives if we only take the time to stop, listen, and learn. There is something really special about helping someone regain a purposeful means of communication with their family following stroke, helping a dementia patient and family create a Memory Book to recognize loved ones and important memories, or helping someone be able to safely eat/drink their favorite foods again. A specific reason I enjoy a skilled nursing facility is the opportunity to collaborate closely with an interdisciplinary team to best meet the needs of and serve our patients.