The Role of Speech-Language Pathology in Hospice and Palliative Care

A speech-language pathologist (SLP) can be your key to navigating some of the most common threats to the quality of your life when you’re living with a serious illness. 

One of those threats is swallowing problems, or “dysphagia” in medical-speak. A speech pathologist can help you figure the best way to enjoy the pleasure of eating and drinking while doing so as safely as possible within the boundaries of your own treatment preferences.

The other key role of a speech-language pathologist is helping you communicate your treatment preferences. When you get sicker, it’s common to run into trouble physically speaking words to your medical team. SLPs can help determine if your trouble speaking is a cognitive issue or something else that can be intervened on. That way your medical team can preserve your autonomy through communication as long as possible.

As a palliative care physician working in the hospital, I can’t imagine taking care of folks without the expertise and support of a speech pathologist.

If you’re in hospice care, you should also know that Medicare specifically states that SLP services are covered by your hospice benefit. So if anything here sounds relevant to your needs, don’t be afraid to ask for that SLP evaluation!

Read more about SLPs in palliative care here:

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