One of my patients this week seemed less than thrilled when she was given the suggestion that thickening her liquids may be the strategy to ease some of her swallowing issues. Her first thought was that the thickener would ruin the taste of her drink and she always feels thirsty. She couldn't believe that I might be taking away the one thing that is making her feel better. I quickly explained that just because we need to thicken liquids, that doesn't mean that our drinks need to taste bad! With the warmer weather being right around the corner, its time to start thinking about adding different items to our drinks to thicken them to the appropriate consistency for our swallowing abilities. Our Speech Strategy is to not only think of using different items to use to thicken the drinks, but also different colors, tastes, and textures. Let's be creative since nobody wants to drink the same thing day after day. We have liked using banana in smoothies as the thickening agent. Its a thickener, but it also gives the drink a little flavor. We have also had success with using yogurt to make liquids feel smoother. Nobody seems to argue when we suggest using preferred flavors of ice cream as a thickener to make milkshakes. Speech Strategies encourages you to get creative using fruits and vegetables as alternatives to the standard thickeners or baby cereals that we have used in the past to thicken our liquids.
Spring is the Air! Let's get Creative with Thickening our Liquids!
Making your Words Memorable
I met an older gentleman that I had treated a few years ago. After our initial introductions, he didn't remember me. This wasn't surprising since his medical issues had caused not only memory weaknesses but also visual difficulties. As we spoke, nothing from our conversation struck any memories. His children reassured him that indeed we had known each other but my name wasn't ringing any bells. When the gentleman began to drink for his swallowing evaluation, I said my usual mantra, "Small sip, Head down, Swallow hard". Before I could finish giving the directions, he said, "Now I know you. How have you been, Smiley?"
When you want your words to be memorable, there are three goals to keep in mind. Keep it short. Avoid being overly wordy, since using more language can be confusing. You want your listener to be concentrating on their task at hand, not processing the language in a long sentence. Use positive wording. You want the person to hear what they should be doing rather than concentrating on what they were doing incorrectly. Be consistent with your wording. You want to use the same word combinations in the same situations so that the message becomes associated with the scenario. The best part of these Speech Strategies is that they are effective with people of all ages. These strategies are to improve language processing. Whether we are working with children or adults, we all strive to have our words not only understood but also remembered. I hope these strategies help to make your communication more effective.