Caregiving for Someone with Aphasia

A caregiver’s role is vital in managing the care and rehabilitation of a loved one who have experienced a stroke. It can be demanding and sometimes frustrating, as well as emotionally and physically draining, but it’s not hopeless.

Today, there are as many as 90 million family caregivers in the United States. The Pew Research Center estimates that four in 10 adults in the U.S. are caring for an adult or child with significant health issues. With statistics like this, there are caregivers in every neighborhood, town and city encountering the same struggles you may be facing.

Below are some tips to help you navigate your loved one’s aphasia journey.

Speak directly to me, not to my caregiver

Many caregivers notice that friends and family like to direct their communication away from their loved one with aphasia. Caregivers suggest speaking straight to the person with aphasia.

Be patient, and be aware that I may use a communication device

Adults with aphasia or other speech disorders may use augmentative and alternative communication devices to share their thoughts, feelings, wants, and needs. Many take their device everywhere they go, while others find the mobile applications are a helpful.

Speak to me the same way you speak to others

Adults with aphasia may have trouble holding a conversation, but this doesn’t mean that their intelligence is impacted.

My speech does not mean I am drunk

Aphasia sometimes means speech is slurred. Try carrying a card that explains your loved one’s condition.

When you are helping me find the words, ask descriptive questions

Many adults with aphasia report getting words mixed up. Some suggest asking questions about the location of an object or subject to help find the right term. For example, if you want to know what he means by “the thing in the kitchen,” ask, “Does the object help prepare food?”

Remove excess background noise. It’s easier to hear when it’s quiet

Background noise makes it difficult for anyone to focus, but especially adults with aphasia. Try to move to a quiet space to communicate.

Ask permission before helping me speak

Many people try to offer clues or guess what the adult with aphasia is trying to say. However, this method can confuse or shift the thinking of the person with aphasia. Try asking permission before jumping in with suggestions.

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