Banish old-lady voice: a boot camp challenge


Depressa: Not because you’re vain or anything, oh dear me no. Not because you’ve got anything special to say. Not that anyone gives a toss about your opinions. (Ed: Depressa is being sarcastic, in case you wondered.)
Smugilla: You’re a vicar’s daughter and you owe it to society to speak out loud and clear.
Menerva: Maybe there’s nothing to be done, but you’ll never know unless you have a damn good try.

In truth, a voice problem is a problem of identity. I didn’t feel nearly as old as I sounded. That surely wasn’t me talking, it was a 95-year-old stranger. The mismatch was an aspect of the psychic confusion associated with aging.

On to it! First stop, visit an otolaryngologist (ENT specialist) then a speech therapist.

Image: I imagine many of the Japanese people in this photo are thinking, “This is not my voice!” They are practising Christmas carols in 1944. Photo by Tom Parker, War Relocation Authority, U.S.

12 thoughts on “Banish old-lady voice: a boot camp challenge

  1. Old lady voice creeps up on me once in a while, especially when I answer the phone early in the morning. I hate it! Let us know if your specialists help you to overcome this onerous disability! We will be waiting…

    1. Yes, it helped me greatly! I took this treatment last year, and there are a few more instalments to come. Oddly enough this week I’ve been having trouble, but I do what I must (starting with drinking lots of water) and then it comes right.

  2. Bernadette says:

    I have started to notice this syndrome too. Please share your treatment.

    1. Hi Bernadette, I hope you can be patient. These blog posts are republished from a year ago, and I’ve scheduled another four on the voice problem, on the next four Fridays. In two weeks, you’ll get the whole treatment. I might even add a video demonstration if I’m brave! Meantime, the two things that are crucial and easy. First, drink much more water — older bodies don’t absorb it so readily and it’s so important to keep hydrated. Secondly, consciously relax your jaw and tongue and neck every time you think of it.

      1. Bernadette says:

        Thank you. I have to be more aware of what needs to be done.

  3. Robyn Haynes says:

    Rachel, this post gave me a laugh – until I recognised my own voice ‘shuffling along in slippers!’ Shock horror! I live alone and so some days I don’t actually use my voice apart from mutterings to oneself. All is fine until I call upon its service and it bursts forth virtually unrecognisable.Obviously someone swapped it with a parrot while I slept. Sigh.

    1. That parrot has many relatives. One still dosses down in my larynx at times. I show it the door.

      1. Robyn Haynes says:

        Haha! I’ll give that a go. Damn thing keeps repeating itself too. What to do about that?!

  4. Val says:

    The only sort of voice I associate with ‘old lady’ is a shaky one, but to me that comes with shrinking downwards from osteoporosis and getting a bit dried up from the lack of those where-are-they-now hormones. My own voice quite frequently recently has become a bit froglike which is worrying as my mother ended up with that, but she had emphysema, but my ‘normal’ voice is very high so if I ever do sound ‘old lady’ I’m going to sound really weird!
    So – what are you doing about your throat problem? Drinking lots of water? Taking lots of deep breaths? Smiling? 🙂

  5. Val, this does seem complicated! In fact “my” speech therapist insists we can do a lot to restore our younger stronger voice: degeneration is not a foregone conclusion at all. See my reply to Bernadette, who also asked what the solution is. I want to do this properly. Good luck, and yes, breathing more deeply is part of it, and smiling has other benefits.

  6. Aunt Beulah says:

    First, I want you to know how much I enjoyed the fine and clever writing in this post. Then, I want to thank you for introducing a topic that evidently has lots of old ladies worrying, including me. So I’ll drink more water, relax my tongue and jaw, take deep breaths, and wait for more information.

    1. This is such a lovely comment to read on a Monday morning. I’m taking a deep breath and enjoying the moment very much. I thank you.

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