Tips for Communicating With a Senior Suffering From Aphasia
October 20, 2018
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
Being a family caregiver for an elderly adult who is coping with any type of challenge or limitation is difficult, but it can be particularly challenging when that issue impacts their ability to communicate with you and the world around them effectively.
It is up to you to encourage your parent to get the proper treatment and find ways to manage and cope with their challenge in their daily life so they can continue to function effectively and maintain a high quality of life.
This is the case with aphasia.
Aphasia is a condition of the brain in which sufferers may have difficulty talking, writing, or understanding language. Aphasia results in the loss of ability to communicate. This can mean your parent is unable to perform or understand verbal or written communication.
Most often caused by a stroke or head injury, this condition can also be the result of a brain tumor or degenerative brain disease. Whatever the cause, not being able to communicate effectively can be a difficult experience that impacts all aspects of your caregiver journey.
Learning ways to communicate with them effectively helps to preserve their independence and emotional health, as well as your relationship and the effectiveness of your home care.
10 Tips for Communicating With a Senior Suffering From Aphasia
Living with aphasia can be extremely difficult but it’s not impossible to communicate.
If your loved one has aphasia, these tips can make communicating with other family members or even strangers easier for them to do.
As a family caregiver, you might want to incorporate some of these tips into everyday activities, too.
Use these tips to help you communicate with a senior who is suffering from aphasia:
1. Ask More Yes or No Questions
Closed questions, or those that can be answered with either yes or no, are easier for a loved one who has aphasia to answer.
The word they’re using in the answer is already provided so that stress is removed.
It’s usually also easier to say each word, which removes another barrier. Your loved one is more likely to be able to communicate if they’re more relaxed.
2. Keep Statements and Questions Shorter
Another way you and visitors can keep your loved one relaxed during a conversation is to keep individual statements and questions shorter and speak to them in simpler sentences.
If your loved one is having a problem focusing or following the conversation, shorter statements can help them to stay with the topic.
3. Speak Slower
Slow your pace so they have more time to process what you are saying.
4. Gestures Can Be Helpful
Gestures, either from your loved one or from other participants in the conversation, can be really helpful in communicating.
Employ hand gestures and body postures to further express yourself when they have difficulty understanding what you are saying to them.
If your loved one uses specific gestures often, you might want to give the other people in the conversation a tutorial so they’re familiar with those gestures, too.
5. Paraphrase What a Loved One Has Said
It can help to periodically paraphrase what your loved one has said.
If your loved one is having a hard time following the conversation, try paraphrasing what everyone says and do it a little more often.
6. Talk About Familiar Topics
The more familiar the topic is, the more likely your loved one will be able to contribute more to the conversation.
You don’t have to talk about the exact same topics all the time but familiar topics are going to help your loved one to feel more at ease and therefore communicating will be much easier as well.
7. Carry a Pad and Pencil
Encourage them to carry a pad and pencil with them if they have difficulty speaking but are able to write their thoughts.
8. Put Together a Picture Book
Help them to put together a book of pictures they can use to replace words when they are having difficulty communicating. Include pictures of commonly-used words, such as a restroom sign, food, or a bus.
9. Be Patient
Give them time to talk to you. Be patient and understanding.
10. Do Not Correct Them
Do not finish their sentences or try to correct them when they use the wrong word. This is disrespectful and will only hurt their feelings, embarrass them, and cause frustration that is likely to worsen the situation.
Contact Care Options for Kids for Home Care Services
If your aging loved one is suffering from a condition such as aphasia and you believe they would benefit from additional support and home care, or your caregiver role has become stressful and you need additional help, now may be the ideal time for you to consider hiring a home care provider.
Home care is a wonderful way to ensure your aging parent gets the personalized care and support you want them to have and you know they deserve.
It also enables you to take a step back from the pressures and stress of the care so you can give energy and attention to other tasks and obligations in your life, while still knowing you are their primary source of care and support.
Through this personalized care you can feel confident your loved one is getting everything they need while still being able to take care of your children, your home, your career, and yourself.