Speech and Swallowing in PD

Apathy describes a lack of interest, enthusiasm or motivation. It is a non-motor symptom of Parkinson’s Disease (PD) and interferes with the effective management of PD symptoms, since apathetic people are less inclined to exercise and follow their medication schedules.  Here are some resources to understand apathy and how to cope with it.

Downloadable Documents | Online Articles | Podcasts & Webinars

Downloadable Documents (PDF)

Eating, Swallowing and Saliva Control in Parkinson's

Published by Parkinson's UK, 2013

This six-page information sheet (PDF) explains difficulties associated with eating and swallowing, as well as producing too much or too little saliva. Information and tips for family and friends are shared.

Speech and Swallowing, a Body Guide to Parkinson's Disease

By Marjorie L. Johnson MA/CCC-SLP.  Published by the Parkinson's Foundation, 2019

This 48-page booklet (PDF) describes speech, swallowing, memory and thinking changes in PD as well as the anatomy of speech production and swallowing, swallowing challenges and getting the help you need.
En Español: Enfermedad de Parkinson: Dificultades con el Habla y la Deglución (tragar)

Speaking Effectively, A Strategic Guide For Speaking and Swallowing

Published by American Parkinson Disease Association, 2010

Booklet (PDF) includes self-evaluations and caregiver surveys to determine at what point professional help is needed. Professional examinations are described along with recommendations for both home and professional intervention to improve speech, make eating easier and safer, and reduce drooling. Maintaining communication to reduce isolation is encouraged.

Speech and Communication Problems in Parkinson's

Published by Parkinson's UK, 2019

A 9-page information sheet (PDF) looks at what difficulties you may have, what causes them and what you can do to manage them.

Speech and Language Therapy and Parkinson's

Published by Parkinson's UK, 2013

Short information sheet (PDF) looks at what difficulties associated with speech and communication, and how speech and language therapy can help.

What is Dysphagia?

Published by American Parkinson Disease Association, 2011

This educational supplement (PDF) describes the normal swallowing process. It offers seven swallowing exercises and a list of five other considerations that help with swallowing.

Online Articles

10 Tips for Managing Drooling in Parkinson’s

By Maria De León, MD.  Published by defeatparkinsons.com, July 31, 2014

Sailorrhea, or drooling, refers to pooling of saliva in the mouth.  It occurs in around 50-80% of all Parkinson’s patients, particularly men.  This blog post explains the cause, risk of aspiration, anxiety, and social embarrassment, with 10 helpful tips & treatment options to help with this pesky problem.

Speech and Swallowing Problems

Published by National Parkinson Foundation (Now the Parkinson's Foundation)

Webpage with self-assessments to determine if professional evaluation is needed for speech or voice and swallowing problems. Additioinal links to information on treatment for speech problems and a stronger voice.

Saliva Control

Published by the MSA Trust, April 2016

This 4-page fact sheet is aimed at those experiencing difficulties with saliva control.  It provides information about the possible problems and advises on what can be done to manage these symptoms.  MSA is a form of parkinsonism, sometimes referred to as ‘Parkinson’s Plus.’  It shares many gait, balance, and non-motor symptoms, like sailorrhea (drooling).


Published by What-When-How, In Depth Tutorials and Information

This short webpage explains the typical sequence of movements that transport food and liquids from the mouth to the stomach.  PD often affects the function of these muscles,  causing swallowing problems or drooling.  Significant swallowing problems can be life threatening.  Speech-language pathology can help a person improve control of these muscles.

Podcasts & Webinars

Building Stronger Caregiving Partnerships Through Better Communication

By the Parkinson’s Foundation, December 1, 2018

In this one-hour talk, the speaker explains that diminished communication significantly impacts the social, emotional and physical burdens of caregiving.  The fourth speaker at the Parkinson’s Foundation Caregiver Summit, Angela Roberts, PhD, explains how changes in speech, cognition and hearing due to Parkinson’s disease (and normal aging) affects communication. She then offers specific strategies for optimizing communication. [Registration required, but is free.]
Presenter's slides   

Communication Strategies for Optimal Success

By the Parkinson’s Foundation, September 17, 2019

In this 1-hour webinar speech language pathologist Angela Roberts reviews the changes in speech, facial expressions, cognition, voice and hearing caused by PD (and aging) that can interfere with communication and meaningful connection with others.  These changes impact the social, emotional, physical and practical aspects of living with PD.  Communication strategies for optimizing successful conversation are shared.  Registration is required, but it is free.

How Does Speech Therapy Help in Parkinson's Patients

By National Parkinson Foundation (Now the Parkinson's Foundation), August 2009

Four-minute video features Michael S. Okun, MD.

My Parkinson's Story: Speech and Swallowing

By the Veteran's Administration

This 8-minute video alternates between an interview with a man and his wife and healthcare professionals. The man and his wife share how Parkinson's has affected his speech and swallowing. The healthcare professionals explain how Parkinson's affects speech and swallowing. Speech therapy can improve speech volume and enunciation as well as swallowing control and drooling. They also advise specific changes to eating habits and avoiding some types of foods to prevent choking.

What is Aspiration?

By the Davis Phinney Foundation, August 17, 2018

This six-minute video uses slow motion animation to demonstrate how the body’s anatomy contributes to both normal swallowing and aspiration of material into the airway.

What Types of Tests and Techniques are there for Swallowing Problems?

By the National Parkinson Foundation (Now the Parkinson's Foundation)

Four-minute video features Michael S. Okun, MD.

Last updated August 2020 by Stanford Parkinson's Community Outreach.