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Guila Muir

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Prevent ‘Old Person’s Voice’

So, I’m not being ageist.

Presbyphonia, or changes associated with the aging voice, is a real thing. If your voice sounds rough, shaky, or breathy, or you lose your voice often, presbyphonia may be catching up to you.

Muscles in our vocal chords weaken, shrink, and get dry as we age. Since nothing is more essential to speaking and training than our voices, is there anything we can do?

Whatever your age, use these tips to prevent the dread presbyphonia.

Anti Aging-Voice Care

1. Use It or Lose It

The research is clear. Those that use their voices regularly, (without yelling or excessive throat-clearing), maintain supple, normal voice quality. In fact, singers often avoid problems entirely.

So…sing! Hum! Talk! Tell stories! Read aloud! Just don’t whisper. Whispering causes more trauma to the larynx than normal speech.

2. Have fun with a straw

To stretch and strengthen the muscles of the voice, grab a straw and hum into it. Start with a wide straw and progress to a smaller one, such as a coffee stirrer. Start with “hmmm, hmmm”, and then imitate a siren. Do this about 10 minutes a day to build vocal stamina.

3. Work that Body

Decreased use and volume of the respiratory system is a major cause of presbyphonia. You need to get those lungs working! Swim, bike, run, play soccer, walk the dog, do anything that makes your heart pump. Your voice will thank you for it.

4. Find your Perfect Pitch

We enable presbyohonia by speaking at too high or low a pitch. To find your natural pitch, try saying “mm-hmm,” as if you’re agreeing with someone. Carry that note or pitch over as you begin a sentence. If you typically speak at a pitch that’s higher or lower than this, you may be putting undue strain on your voice.

Speakers, presenters, and trainers, I exhort you: follow these invaluable tips to keep your voice beautiful at any age. As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, “The human voice is the organ of the soul.”

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