In my book on Age Safely At Home. I write about how it affects others perceptions of us, here is an excerpt:
Now this section may appear strange to you, but I think it is an important issue. Consider what you think and feel when you hear someone speak in a weak, crackling voice. Do you consider them confident? Do you think of them as strong? Would you picture them as young, middle-aged or old? I really didn’t think much about it myself until I heard my husband one day on the phone when I was still working and hadn’t talked to him for a day or two. His voice actually scared me; it cracked and sounded very weak like he was having a hard time talking—so much so that I was concerned about his health.
He wasn’t ill but told me that he actually hadn’t talked to anyone that day or the day before. I thought about this and recalled that my brother, mother-in-law, and my own mother had the same sound and that they, too, often did not talk to anyone or use their vocal cords for days at a time. We appear to be back at that same old adage: use it or lose it!
But, you say, what does this have to do with our ability to stay home? Well, to the average person who was not trying to convince people we are okay to stay at home it would mean nothing. But I want you to think about your friend, child, or relative talking to you and hearing your weak voice. Do you think they might believe that you were ill? Do you think they might consider you in a weakened state and not of clear mind or faculties? I know I thought that with all my aging relatives. I was concerned that there was something affecting their health. People consider our capabilities not only by our looks but also by how we present ourselves verbally. A strong voice gives the impression that we are strong physically and mentally.
When I became concerned about my husband, I suggested that he talk every day to someone—a person at the store, himself, or even the dog—simply to exercise his vocal cords.
Again, you may wonder why this would have any impact on your safely staying home. People, especially older people, often get taken advantage of simply because unscrupulous people think them weak. Think of the frailest or oldest person you know or have met; think about when that person spoke to you. If that person spoke with a strong voice, you probably had more respect for them and certainly didn’t think them weak. As you get older and have to deal with salespeople or even a taxi driver, do you think a weak voice or a strong voice might determine whether or not they might try to take advantage of you? The stronger your voice, the more likely it will be that you get what you want when you want it and that no one will consider you weak or at a disadvantage. Now consider the number of seniors that have been taken advantage of on the phone. These people prey on seniors or older people and how do they know this is an older person? By the weak or wavering voice. This is something you can work to correct – it just takes recognizing it and practicing to increase the sound of your own voice. Just think of those aging actors and singers we know. They sound strong even into their late 80’s. So how do they do it? They practice, maybe with voice coaches, but we don’t need to go that far. We just need to learn to talk out loud and listen to how we sound. If you think your voice is sounding shaky or weak, then you need talk a little louder or longer until your voice becomes stronger.
But another question that comes up is how we perceive our own voice. How we use it to our benefit or detriment when speaking. Now the context may be a little different when used in reference in how we say things rather than the how we sound saying them.
The concern I am attempting to address here however ineptly is that whether we speak with a low or a loud voice, we need to speak. As seniors, we need to speak our minds, because like it or not we need to be heard if we are to the live the full and rich life we have earned simply by being.
So I ask the question aging………
Does Aging make us more or less likely to say something or more likely to say the wrong thing? I would be happy to have your opinion on this. I know what I think and I know how I act so I wonder what the majority think. You can let me know either in the comments or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Yup, I’m the voice, the support and anything else needed on this site.