Older People's Voices

Keeping Your Voice Strong and Healthy as You Get Older

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 40 percent of people ages 55 and older were working or actively looking for work in 2014. That number, known as a labor force participation rate, is expected to increase fastest for the oldest segments of the population— most notably, people ages 65 to 74 and 75 and older—through 2024.

It’s clear these days that more and more older adults continue working and there are those who would like to keep working in their chosen profession or even find work in a new field.

But, as people age, even though they may be in generally good health, some are concerned that their speaking voice no longer has the strength and quality it used to have. Their voice may crack, sound weak, or they have an urge to constantly clear their throat in conversation, during an interview or making a presentation.

With the continued reliance on emails and texting, we don’t use our voices the way we used to. So, when it comes time to speak to a group or even on the phone our voice may come across as “old” – even though we don’t feel "old."

Breath is the energy of the voice and although that sounds simplistic because everyone thinks, "of course I breathe." the breath many people use may not be the diaphragmatic breath which supports the voice. If you are just using the upper chest breath when speaking, this eventually causes tension and your voice will lose its energy and vitality.

Using techniques that reduce vocal tension are vitally important for older people to continue to feel confident about using their voices. A few sessions with a voice and speech coach can be extremely beneficial by learning or re-learning some simple breathing and vocal exercises. When practiced regularly, these warm-ups help maintain energy and resonance.

Are you concerned about your voice? Does it sound too soft? Too loud? Are you straining to make yourself heard? Understood? Getting hoarse?

It’s not too late. One is never too old to have a strong healthy voice.