Signs of aging include more than receding hairlines and gums, wrinkles, painful joints, and clogged arteries. As with everything else, your voice ages too, and most people don’t think about taking care of their “voice muscles” like they do their biceps.
Have you ever talked to someone on the phone and determined the person is old just by the sound of his/her voice? You’ve likely heard an older person speak with that classic gravely, weak. raspy, wavering, hoarse, and/or breathless voice. With that said, how old do YOU sound?
Why Your Voice Makes You Sound Old
Over 30% of people over age 65 have voice problems. As you age, your larynx (a.k.a. voice box) changes. The following 12 reasons may be causing your voice to become hoarse and weak and thus, sound old:
- Your vocal cords are less elastic (just like aging skin and muscles) and are unable to work in the same way as when you were young. Your vocal cords move and vibrate to make sounds. When the surrounding muscles move, your vocal cords either tighten or loosen. To make higher sounds, your cords tighten.
- Your vocal cords and muscles in the larynx wear out and become more thin. As a result, your voice may sound higher.
- Thickened mucous increases the amount of mass that needs to vibrate and results in a lower pitched voice. This increase is thought to be due to a decrease in hormones that affect the mucous membranes of your vocal cords.
- Acid reflux can cause harshness, sore throat, cough.
- Weak abdominals – In order to form a sound, your abs and rib cage squeeze your lungs which make you exhale air.
- Decreased lung capacity – By the time you’re 80, you may have 50% less volume compared to when you were 20.
- Rheumatoid arthritis – This condition can lead to hoarseness because your vocal cords cannot move well. The inflammation limits the ability of the joint near your windpipe (cricoarytenoid joint) to move.
- Messages from your brain to the voice box become inefficient and nerve endings die.
- Decrease in blood supply and number of lubricating glands which cause the vocal cords to dry out.
- Change in your tongue, lips and teeth making it more difficult to form words. As a result, your voice becomes thinner and wavers.
- Parkinson’s disease
How to Keep Your Voice Younger Longer
Here are some quick fixes to slow and minimize the aging of your voice. Continue reading “How “Old” Do You Sound?”