Respiratory Parameters and Vocal Habits in a Group of Elderly People According to the Gender
Introduction: Following an overview of anatomic and physiologic changes found in studies of normal and aging phonation, this study examines findings on respiratory parameters in a group of elderly subjects.
Objectives: To extend understanding of the effects of aging voice and its relation with vocal habits and to observe the participants’ symptoms and self-reported impressions about their vocal image.
Methods: A previously elaborated questionnaire with closed questions was completed by 47 elderly participants, with no neurological disorders, of both genders (60-89 years) resident in São Paulo/SP. The participants were characterized according to age, gender, self-reported hearing problems, and professional voice. Smoking, throat-clearing, and habitual yelling were considered inadequate vocal habits. Among the parameters that contribute to voice production, our analysis focused on two measurements: maximum phonation time (MPT) of sustained vowels “a, i, and u” and the ratio between the MPT averages of consonants “s and z.”
Results: Decreased MTP of sustained vowels in both genders independently of smoking habits. However, the findings do not indicate vocal pathology. Decrease of the ratio between the MPT averages of “s and z” in female smokers indicates incomplete vocal fold coaptation during phonation. The participants reported inappropriate habits; the majority has altered vocal image and perceived different vocal symptoms as they aged.
Conclusion: The disorders in respiratory parameters observed by the decrease of the MPT combined with the expected changes during aging and the self-reported inadequate vocal habits are suggested reasons for the altered vocal image reported by the participants.