Though many people don’t think about it, there are plenty of similarities between working with adults and working with children. Just as pediatric SLPs note the periodic need for incentives in order to make progress in therapy, there are plenty of adults who do as well. I frequently work with patients who are very confused and, as a result, can be less than inclined to work with a guy like me. “Speech pathologist?”, I often hear, “I can talk just fine, what are you doing here?”
In addition to the often-seen challenge of helping someone acknowledge that they’re having difficulty swallowing, an added bonus is that such difficulty is often coupled with poor appetite. It’s the ultimate paradox: when you feel bad, you don’t feel hungry; but, the best way to heal is to get some good nutrition.
Recently, I worked with a patient who had a poor appetite and wasn’t eating enough as a result. She was refusing most food and was not inclined to drink liquid supplements, citing that they were never cold enough to properly enjoy them. I excused myself, ran to the nutrition room on the floor, and returned with a cup of ice. “Ensure on the rocks, then?”, I asked as I began to pour. She had a good chuckle and agreed.
Though it lacked the punch of a good mixed drink, it did the trick to make her day just a little bit brighter.