Many of us take our basic motor skills for granted. The ability to speak, write, read, and comprehend information is taken as a given. The vast majority of people are born with this “universal” set of actions, so it is only natural to assume they will never go away.
Think for a moment what would happen if you suddenly lost the ability to do any one of these things. How would your life change? Chances are, the answer is something you cannot even imagine. You would likely be dependent on the assistance of another person for the rest of your life.
Aphasia Home Care: How to Get Past the Communication Hurdle
The completion of daily tasks would become a challenge rather than a typical experience. Unfortunately, this is the reality millions of people living with Aphasia face. According to the Cleveland Clinic, aphasia is a neurological disorder that results from damage to the areas of the brain that control language functions. This condition refers to a person’s inability or significantly hindered ability to perform basic physical and mental motor skills. Primary Progressive Aphasia, or PPA, affects adults of all ages, but is much more prevalent in the elderly. As well, the effects it has on speech and comprehension vary from person to person.
Speech, manual dexterity, and critical thinking skills, like everything else that humans are capable of doing, are controlled by separate regions of the brain. As such, certain diseases and physical trauma can permanently alter communication with the central nervous system.
According to the National Stroke Association, strokes are the leading cause of aphasia. A stroke is a debilitating affliction that can render a person incapacitated for the rest of their life in most cases. Recovery rates for this condition are low, as the majority of survivors experience some form of change in their speech, and language comprehension abilities. Aphasia refers to the latter, and it can be troubling for both patients and their loved ones to live with.
How To Get Past the Aphasia Communication Hurdle
When caring for an elderly loved one with aphasia, there are a number of ways a caregiver can boost morale and aid in the recovery process. Since people who have aphasia cannot express complex thoughts as far as speech is concerned, friends and family member must learn to tailor their communication appropriately. In the beginning, the American Stroke Association recommends a basic approach that may include asking direct response (yes or no) questions, instead of those that would require further clarification.
Thus, instead of asking, “How are you feeling?” better alternatives would be “Do you need to use the bathroom?” or “Did you get enough to eat for breakfast?”. Implementing these changes can be understandably difficult, particularly for the fact that many stroke survivors had no problem speaking or communicating clearly prior to their episode.
The use of hand gestures and avoiding frequent topic changes mid-conversation have also proved incredibly beneficial when talking to individuals with aphasia. Miscommunication will be less likely the less complex the discussion and method of delivery are.
With frequent and consistent script-based speech formats in combination with participation in speech therapy and stroke support group classes, your loved one will discover new ways to tackle what may seem at this point to be an insurmountable obstacle. In addition to working with your doctor to ensure they receive proper care and therapy for their condition, hiring an in-home care professional to provide assistance to your loved one with aphasia is also a good idea. PPA and stroke-related aphasia certainly makes communication more difficult, but not impossible.
How have you implemented the above tips into your life? Tell us in the comments below.
For more information, please review our Aphasia Resources.