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Valentina Carlile Osteopata
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  • Writer's pictureValentina Carlile DO

How does the voice change with age?

How does the voice change with age?

The same changes that affect the body as we age - less muscle strength, more body fat, slower movements, and degeneration of body tissue - impact our voice as we age. Usually as a person gets older, speech slows down, syllables and words become elongated, and sentences are pronounced with more pauses for air. Notes and volume may be reduced, and tremors may appear. In short, an elderly person's speech lacks panache.

Scientific studies show that:

  1. As we age, male larynxes change more than female ones, and these changes occur early.

  2. The male 'note' tends to increase with age, while the female one remains the same, or may decrease slightly.

  3. Many older people also have hearing loss. This can cause them to tend to speak louder and this could affect their vocal health.

Vocal Limitations: Advanced age will undoubtedly bring about changes to the voice. Healthy living can delay some changes, but no one stays young forever. At some point - as with the rest of the body - the voice will age. The laryngeal cartilages become stiffer (and therefore less flexible) with age. This can reduce a person's vocal range, and this is an especially important and critical factor for those who sing professionally. The respiratory system tends to work less efficiently as we age, so speaking will become a more difficult task.

Microscopic studies of fibers located in vocal cords demonstrate that these structures become stiffer and thinner, producing higher-pitched sounds, especially in males. The vocal fold muscle (the thyroarytenoid) can shrink with age, thus creating a weaker, more breathy voice. Control the future of your voice: The good news is that you can have some control over how quickly your voice will age. A nutritious diet, rest, exercise and a positive attitude all help keep your body functioning well. Exercise strengthens muscles and increases lung capacity. Osteopathic treatment, in always making the body as functional as possible, is a valid ally. There is some evidence that a healthy older person may have better and stronger vocal functioning than a less healthy young person. In some subjects, laryngeal aging is not necessarily 'harmful'. It is important to remember that effective vocalization does not depend on brute force, but rather on a well-coordinated initiation of the laryngeal muscles. Some voice therapies can also help re-energize an aging voice. For example, some techniques can tone the muscles of the larynx, while others are designed to teach you to use more robust patterns to produce an audible voice.

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