American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Aging Research and Clinical Management

What resources are available regarding research and clinical management of older Americans? What information will be useful to educators and students?

There are a large number of resources available to assist educators and clinicians regarding research and clinical management of the aging population.

Older Americans comprise a larger percentage of the U.S. population than in the past. Despite some studies that indicate that many older Americans are living better, many are not. Therefore, it is increasingly important for audiologists and speech-language pathologists to understand the issues affecting older Americans. Given the current health care climate, which involves reduced reimbursement for health services coupled with increasing numbers of individuals living longer, clinicians are presented with an ever-growing number of geriatric patients on their caseload who are medically fragile.

Approximately 6% of ASHA members have listed their primary place of employment as a skilled nursing facility (SNF) and as many as 39.6% have listed health care facility as their primary place of employment [PDF]. Based on these numbers, which do not reflect the total number of ASHA members who work with older adults, it is critical that the educators of future clinicians are aware of current clinical management issues. Researchers will need tools and information on research trends connected to the aging population.

The following list of resources is a sample of what is available to researchers and educators:

The Aging Population
There are many organizations dedicated to conducting research on aging, advocating for the elderly, and promoting healthy aging. SLPs should take the initiative to learn more about the aging population and prepare for the increased services this group will demand in the future.

End-of-Life Issues in Speech-Language Pathology
Find information and resources concerning SLP and other health care service delivery for patients nearing the end of life.

ASHA's Take Action Center
Access to information and sample letters to contact legislators regarding Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement.

Other Related Resources on Aging

Cognitive and Emotional Health Project: The Healthy Brain
The National Institute on Aging (NIA), National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), have joined efforts to launch a new trans-NIH initiative, Cognitive and Emotional Health Project: The Healthy Brain.

Review of Minority Aging Research at the NIH
The Minority Aging Review Committee, in partnership with the National Advisory Council on Aging, provides consolidated information and research regarding the health status and understanding of health and aging of minority identified Americans across the life span.

The National Center for Health Statistics, Data Warehouse on Trends in Health and Aging
The Warehouse is a collection of data on aspects of the aging population. It may be a great source for clinicians and researchers to use in a variety of projects.

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Improving the Health and Health Care of Older Americans
AHRQ's Task Force on Aging provides reports and rationale for continued development, implementation and dissemination of research related to aging.

Special Interest Group 15, Gerontology
This Special Interest Group is concerned with the interdisciplinary study and communication behaviors and disorders in older individuals. The mission of SIG 15 is to provide an opportunity for members of the Association concerned with the communication problems associated with the aging process to (1) affiliate with one another to promote specific professional and scientific interests, (2) develop communication and networking in diverse professional and scientific settings, and (3) advocate for positive outcomes on issues concerning older individuals.


This article first appeared in the December 2005 issue of Access Academics and Research.

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