Having a loved one with aphasia can add stress to the whole family. Many caregivers find themselves with unexpected responsibilities. These can include navigating doctors’ appointments and providing assistance with everyday tasks. If the stroke caused one or both people to stop working, finances can be another big stressor. In a recent survey by Lingraphica, 90% of caregivers reported an increase in stress levels since their loved one acquired aphasia.
Although an increase in stressors might be unavoidable, what are some ways to try to manage the stress and feel better in general?
Ask for help
Many people struggle to ask for and accept help, but it is one of the biggest ways to reduce stress. Is there a friend or family member that can be with your loved while you run errands, accomplish other tasks, or take some time to yourself? Consider using a caregiver or respite service if your finances allow for it. If you don’t have anyone to help with caregiving, ask if others might be able to help with other tasks, like cooking or picking up prescriptions. Even if others can’t offer help, maybe they can offer company. Invite friends and family over or make plans to meet.
Take care of yourself
Getting plenty of sleep, eating well, and getting physical exercise put you in a position to handle everyday stressors better.
Participate in fun activities with your loved one with aphasia
Although your roles might have shifted, they are still the same person. Try not to let the aphasia and other medical needs define your relationship. Watch an old favorite movie, go to an event, or participate in a hobby that you both enjoy.
Block out some “me time”
Make sure to take some “me time” everyday – even if it’s only for a few minutes at a time. Here are some things you can do in five minutes or less:
- Practice deep breathing/meditate
- Step outside – get a change of scenery
- Log into a music streaming service or break out the CD collection and listen to your favorite song
- Write down what’s stressing you out – and at the same time, write down what you’re grateful for
- Stretch or do a yoga pose
- Watch a funny video on YouTube
- Do a relaxation exercise – tense and then release all of your muscle groups
Seek out an aphasia support group
Connecting with others in the same situation can provide a welcome camaraderie and give you resources. Many aphasia support groups separate the people with aphasia and the caregivers for a portion of the session so that you can openly share your stresses.
Know when to seek professional help
If you are concerned that you are depressed or unable to care for yourself and your loved one, tell your doctor or make an appointment with a therapist.