After a stroke, an individual can experience difficulties speaking, writing or reading. This condition is known as aphasia.
Whether it is finding the right words to express an idea, making sense of what you read or hear, or being able to describe objects or tell a story, the severity of the aphasia will be determined by the extent of brain damage produced. Brain tumors, infections and dementia can also cause aphasia.
Some people recover without treatment, but most patients require speech therapy as soon as possible, and not all patients recover completely. Aphasia may also be due to a loss of brain function, as can occur with Alzheimer’s disease, in which case the patient will not improve.
People with aphasia and their families should see a speech therapist to help them improve their ability to communicate with one another. However, the MedlinePlus website states that there are many ways to help a patient with this disorder. Here are a few recommendations:
Limit distractions and noise:
Turn off the radio and television when talking to the patient, or move to a quieter room.
Talk like an adult:
Do not make them feel like a child. Do not pretend to understand if you do not understand. Always try to keep the person involved in your conversations and check that they understand, but do not press them too much to understand, as this can cause them to feel frustrated.
If the patient cannot understand you, yelling will not help, unless the person also has a hearing problem. Do not attempt to correct a person with aphasia if they remember something incorrectly.
Encourage the patient:
Always make eye contact. Point to things, make gestures with your hands, use drawings to illustrate your examples. Making a book with pictures or words on common topics or famous people can help you communicate better.
If you want to ask them questions:
– Make sure you ask “yes” or “no” questions.
– When you need more elaborate answers, give them clear choices for answers, but not too many.
– Visual prompts are also helpful, when possible.
If you are giving them instructions:
– Break them down into simple and easy steps.
– Give them enough time to understand. Sometimes this can take longer than expected.
– If you notice that the patient is feeling frustrated, consider switching to a different activity.