Caring for Someone Who Can’t Speak After Stroke

Many people have some difficulty speaking after a stroke. This is called aphasia.  Aphasia can also affect the person’s ability to understand speech, read, and write. Caring for a loved one with physical impairments can be very difficult. When you add aphasia to the equation, providing care can become a bit trickier.

If your loved one has trouble speaking after stroke, here are some things you can do to help support their communication.

Communicating with a Stroke Survivor with Aphasia

  • Make sure you have the person’s attention before you start
  • Be patient and give him or her time to speak
  • Resist the urge to finish sentences or offer words
  • Minimize or eliminate background noise (e.g. TV, radio, other people)
  • Ask yes/no questions
  • Speak in a normal voice at normal volume
  • Allow the person time to process the information and respond
  • Resist the temptation to answer questions for him or her
  • Simplify your own sentence structure
  • Reduce your rate of speech
  • Don’t “talk down” to the person with aphasia (e.g. no “baby talk”)
  • Write down keywords as you speak
  • Draw pictures to emphasize what you are saying
  • Use common, meaningful gestures
  • Use visual supports (e.g. pictures on your phone, communication board, yes/no cards)
  • Verify that you are both understanding and following the conversation

One of the most important things to remember when communicating with a person with aphasia is that, aphasia does not affect intellect. We always want to acknowledge that the person with aphasia is a competent adult who has thoughts and ideas to share. The deficit is not in their thinking, but in their ability to verbalize or produce these ideas and thoughts.

Preparing for Life After the Hospital


Nutrition and Meal Plans

Modifying Your Home

Managing Incontinence

Caring for Someone Who Can’t Speak After Stroke

Dealing with Post-Stroke Depression