If you are caring for a loved one who has recently had a stroke and is unable to communicate clearly, you may wonder if there is anything you can do to help them. If so, use one or more of the following four tips for communicating with a loved one suffering from aphasia after a stroke.
Give Them Time To Answer You
When a person is suffering from aphasia, they may not be able to remember the right words to say while speaking. They most likely know the answer, but they are unable to put their thoughts into words right away.
When speaking with your loved one, be patient and give them time to answer you. This can keep them from becoming frustrated when they are unable to say the right words. If they are still unable to speak after a few minutes, offer gentle suggestions as to what they may be trying to say.
Let Them Guide The Conversations
Another way to ease communications with an individual with aphasia is to let them lead the conversation. They may be more willing to speak if they know how to express themselves. They may also want to steer clear of topics that are difficult for them to express easily.
Once again, be patient as you listen intently to the conversation. It may take them a few moments between words to express their ideas. This can also help improve their speech patterns while they exercise the part of the brain that was damaged in the stroke. If they look to you for guidance, then give it to them. Otherwise, try to let them speak as much as possible.
Design A Communication Board
If your loved one becomes frustrated easily while trying to speak, you may want to consider designing a communication board to help them express their needs and ideas. Depending on the extent of their aphasia, you have a couple of options available when placing visual clues on the board.
If they are still able to read but just cannot speak, you can write common words on the board, such as "yes," "no," or "time to eat." If there are other family members or activities your loved one can still enjoy, you can write words to refer to the persons or events. While having a conversation, they can then point to the word or idea they wish to convey.
However, if your loved one is unable to fully comprehend words, you can post pictures on the board. You could put a picture of food they can point to when they are hungry, or paste pictures of family members they can refer to if they are unable to speak the person's name.
Help Them With Speech Therapy Exercises
While speaking with your family member, try to have them do any exercises given to them by their doctor and speech therapist. These exercises may include making different sounds, such as those made by saying vowels. Or there may be certain words on a list that can help stimulate the neurons in the brain to help repair the damaged tissue. If you are unable to find any lists, ask the speech therapist or neurologist for one. You may also ask to sit in for a therapy appointment to learn how to guide your family member through the exercises.
Using the above tips can help ease communications between you and your loved one when their aphasia makes it difficult to speak. For more information on how to help your family member, you may want to discuss the situation with their doctor at a neurological services and treatment center and ask for advice on how to help your loved one and you cope.