BodyGarnet : Mature adulthood

5 Best Strategies to Keep the Aging Vocals Healthy.

Discover effective strategies to maintain and enhance aging vocals. All the research-based tips for a strong, healthy voice throughout life.

As we age, the larynx and vocal cords undergo changes, including thinning, stiffening, and shrinkage of the muscles and other tissues that make up our voice. It is common for people to start to “sound old” in their 50s, but many also manage to keep a deep, rich voice far into their 80s. This article is all about the best science-based methods to improve the health of aging vocals.

So let’s dig in!!

The Best Treatments for Aging Vocals

There are many options available to improve your vocal quality and stamina. But as proven by most researches, these methods stand out the most.

1. Voice Therapy  Voice Therapy

There is no way to fully recover the tone, movement, and coordination of a larynx that is young. However, modifying the way the larynx is used can improve its functionality.

Voice therapy is suggested as a first-line treatment by ENT specialists to strengthen, stretch, and improve the aging voice’s health and function as whole. By learning how to relax throat muscles and boost the breath, one can improve oral resonance. These treatments have proven to be extremely beneficial for many adults (1)(2).

A professional in this field, such as a speech and language therapist, conducts voice training. It can be divided into two parts. The first important part is teaching the person how to use their voice and keep it healthy. The second is presbyphonia exercises, which are ways to improve the voice of older people. It usually requires 4–8 sessions.

Different voice training works on different parts of the voice and the lungs. But the most common types of voice therapy for aging vocals include:

  • Breathing techniques to use the voice more effectively and with less strain.
  • Voice warm-ups and cool-downs help the voice get ready to use and restore later.
  • Resonance training can help the voice sound better and spread farther.
  • Specialized for pitch and volume to improve voice range and control.

Consistently practicing these exercises regularly will preserve and enhance voice health. But in severe cases, voice therapy may not be enough if the elderly are suffering from a bigger glottic gap or any other medical condition.

2. Invasive Procedures 

Some patients may require additional treatment even after voice therapy. Fortunately, minimally invasive and open procedures are available. Less than 20% of patients diagnosed with presbyphonia undergo such procedures.

Vocal Fold Augmentation Or Laryngoplasty

If voice treatment does not produce satisfactory results for the patient, injectable laryngoplasty can be used before any other surgical procedure. It is also called a “voice lift” or a vocal fold augmentation injection. This procedure involves inserting a very small needle into the skin next to one or both voice cords to inject the substance. This substance can be Botox, fat, hyaluronic acid, or another medically acceptable filler for the vocal cords. Some permanent fillers, such as calcium hydroxylapatite or silicone, are also used now.

Thus, injecting the material helps to meet the folds again in the middle, closing the vocal cord better, which makes the voice louder and sharper. Injectable fillers give voice cords that have lost muscle tone because of getting older or being paralyzed more volume. The majority of injectables used to treat the vocal folds only work for a short time (6 months to 2 years) before they are absorbed. However, if the patient is satisfied with the outcomes, they may choose to repeat injections.

Thyroplasty

Thyroplasty is a minimally invasive procedure which aims to enhance voice quality, swallowing, and, in a few cases, breathing. It involves inserting a small implant, which looks like a shim, through the voice box.

There are various kinds of thyroplasty, depending on the technique or purpose, but in cases of presbyphonia, Type I Thyroplasty (Medialization Laryngoplasty) is commonly used. An implant is placed in the larynx to support vocal folds, allowing them to close fully during phonation. This treatment can significantly enhance the strength, quality, and durability of the voice, particularly in individuals with presbyphonia, by improving closure. laryngoplasty for vocal aging

An additional, more conclusive method is the open surgical surgery known as bilateral medialization thyroplasty, which may be done with local anesthetic and moderate sedation. A small piece of laryngeal cartilage covering the voice cords is removed to access the larynx through the neck. The next step is to insert a needle into the neck near the vocal fold and deep into the laryngeal cartilage so that it may be pushed medially.

These procedures are carried out under general anaesthesia.

3. Common Exercises For Aging Vocals

People have been practicing vocal exercises for centuries to keep their voices healthy and in good shape. They have also been proven in recent studies to be very beneficial for people with prebyphonia. Here are some popular exercises that are meant to keep the aging voice healthy:

1. Breathing Exercises

Maintaining a healthy voice begins with mastering proper breath control. One effective method of maintaining the voice is diaphragmatic breathing. These exercises have been found to be beneficial for both elders and anyone suffering from a hoarse voice. Additionally, another 2022 research suggested that breathing exercises can improve outcomes when performed with vocal phonation exercises.

How to Perform? To perform breathing exercises, place one hand on your stomach and take deep breaths in through your nose. Your stomach will expand as you do this. Slowly let out your breath through your mouth while tensing up your abs.

To learn more about unique breathing exercises that can enhance respiratory fitness, please refer to our article here.

2. Humming 

One of the best exercises for voice is to hum. Recent 2021 research has proven that it increases vocal intensity and gently warms up your cords.

How to Perform?  To perform this, close your mouth and space your teeth out a little. Hum in a familiar pitch, and feel the sound in your face. To gently stretch your voice cords, hum slowly up and down your range.

Another method to keep the voice healthy through humming exercise is to use straws. This is known as straw phonation, and it can be performed for 15 minutes daily. By experimenting with straws of varying lengths and diameters, one can hone the voice chord strength even more. 2020 research has recently proven these exercises to be very effective when performed for 6 weeks daily.

3. Yawning and Sighing

These might not be practiced as a general exercise for voice, but research has proven them to help warm up the voice. Even a recent 2024 research has proven its efficacy in relaxing the chord, lips, and laryngeal muscles.

How to Perform? To practice this exercise, make a purposeful yawn and, as you let out your yawn, make a soft sighing sound. This helps calm down the speech system.

4. Lip Trills

Another beneficial exercise to keep the voice healthy is to perform lip trills. Improving breath control, warming up the voice, and releasing tension in the lips and face are all benefits of lip trills.

How to Perform? To do a lip trill, just take a long breath in and out slowly enough to create a buzzing or trilling sound with your lips, like a little motorboat. Continue buzzing for as long as you are comfortable doing so. As you buzz slowly alter the pitch to sound like a wave. This warms up your vocal cords.

5. Tongue Twistersvoice therpay for aging vocals

While these exercises are not directly related to voice, they can definitely help with the clarity of speech and make it audible.

How to Perform? Select a few tongue twisters and say them slowly at first. Then, slowly speed up while keeping your pronunciation clear. Here are some beneficial ones,

  1. She sells sea shells by the seashore.
  2. Red leather, yellow leather.
  3. Unique New York, Unique New York.

Or one can go for longer phrases. Like Irish wristwatch, Swiss wristwatch, Irish wristwatch, Swiss wristwatch. 

For these exercises to have the most positive impact on your voice, you should do them regularly for a short amount of time.

How to Keep Aging Vocals Healthy

Even with all these age related vocal changes, there are effective ways for older people to keep their voices healthy and even make them better. Some of the research-based methods are mentioned below.

Be Aware

We all know that knowledge is power. If you are aware of the warning signs, you can catch voice changes early, even if they haven’t started yet. So always be watchful for any changes in your voice, such as a hoarse quality, difficulty breathing while speaking, or a change in the way you sound when you talk.

Stay Fit

Most of us would like to keep our voices in tip-top shape, and the same is true for our bodies. Exercising on a regular basis will help you maintain a healthy weight, increase your flexibility, and enhance your breathing and posture. So if you want to keep your voice in good shape, it’s important to exercise often. Walking, swimming, or cycling are terrific options, while Pilates, Tai Chi, or yoga can also do wonders for your body.

Re-style the Lifestyle

In addition to all other changes that can help aging vocals maintain their quality. Some lifestyle modifications can play their own part, too, and can surely mitigate the effects of an aging voice. These include,

  • Drink Plenty of Water: Hydration is the key here, too, as it helps to keep vocal cords healthy and efficient. Drinking six to eight glasses of water a day will help keep the throat moist and flexible.
  • Avoid Smoking and Alcohol: The smoke in the cigarettes contains many irritants that can disturb the vocal cords and they may dry soon. Also, drinking too much alcohol can also dry out and irritate the vocal folds. So maintaining the health of vocals, one must avoid or limit the consumption of these things.
  • Add up wet Snacks: Wet snacks (things that are mostly water, like cucumbers, berries, and fruits) should be included to keep the throat mosit.

Keep Talking 

Like the rest of the body, the voice needs to be worked out to stay in shape. If this doesn’t happen, it might cause changes. Many speech therapists suggest that speaking and exercising are the best ways to keep the aging vocals healthy. Also, researchers have shown that singing helps maintain healthy vocal function and boosts overall health.

So, read out loud, join a band, or sing in the shower. Be friendly and take part in conversations.

Don’t Forget to Rest

An essential, though occasionally overlooked, part of presbyphonia treatment is the inclusion of vocal rest periods. After a lengthy period of speaking, it’s best to give the vocal chords a rest so they may heal and prevent tension. One technique that can help people whose voices change as they get older is mindful communication, which entails intentionally pausing talks.

Use The Technology

As technology has improved, more tools and software have become available to help people with presbyphonia. Voice enhancement tools can be very helpful when it gets hard to project your voice. These small, modest devices can help people deal with changes in their voices that come with getting older.

How Can One Embrace and Celebrate the Changes in Aging Voices?

Accepting and enjoying the changes in your voice that come with getting older is a process that changes you. It requires effective communication skills and acceptance. Keeping your voice confident may make you feel better overall and help you make deep connections with other people.

When you accept and value the changes in speech, here are some important things to keep in mind:

Recognizing Natural Evolution: Know that voice changes are a normal and unavoidable part of getting older. Acknowledging the uniqueness of each person’s voice and their growth is an act of understanding its uniqueness.

Developing a Positive Self-Image: Another thing one can do is accept that the changes in one’s voice are a sign of growing older and wiser, and use this to build a positive view of oneself. Focus on loving yourself instead of what other people expect of you.

Looking for Encouragement and Support: Talking about how you feel with friends, family, or support groups can help you build a network of people who understand and can help you. Spend time with people who understand the depth that changes in the voice that come with getting older can add.

In the end, the voice is a beautiful instrument that changes over the course of our lives to reflect our health, emotions, and life events. Knowing about these changes can give people the confidence to take care of their voices and keep expressing themselves with ease at any age. The effects of aging will eventually be felt by all of us, but there are things we can do to slow them down and even enhance our voice and physical health and to Prime with Time!

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Dr Aimen

Being a Doctor by profession, Aimen is passionate about helping people get better health in their lives. Aimen enjoys her research on Prime With Time subjects and strives to create better awareness of the problems and changes related to women's health.
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