Social Groups for Older Individuals

According to Worrell & Hickson (1991), “there will be an increasing number of older population requiring audiology and speech-language pathology services, and the majority of these clients will be living alone.” Effects of normal aging include age-related impairments of the auditory and vocal systems, word retrieval impairments, language comprehension (including a decrease in literacy skills), and conversational discourse skills. Rave & Kahn (1998) define successful aging as “maintaining physical health, avoiding disease, sustaining good cognitive function, and having engagement with other people and productive activities.” Activities such as socializing helps senior citizens feel competent and improves their self-esteem. Social networks include neighbors, family, and volunteer or social organizations. According to Kastenbaum (1987) a prevention activity is a form of environmental modification to reduce levels of loneliness and to increase social usefulness, while at the same time providing help to maintain and improve older adult coping abilities. Prevention activities can be group therapy that is community centered, or family centered. Communicative benefits of group therapy include: appropriate topic maintenance, rate of speech, number of words per utterance, pitch, and vocal quality. Cognitive benefits of group therapy include psychological support, generalization of communication skills, aiding individuals to cope with feelings of loneliness, depression, and hopelessness as well as increase their sense of worth and belonging (Zarit & Zarit, 2002).  Adult social groups for aging individuals allows for preventative care in a functional and peer-supportive setting.

-Sarah Peters, MA, CF-SLP

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