Caregiver’s Corner: 5 strategies to communicate with a stroke survivor with Aphasia

Every stroke is different. So, some stroke survivors experience mobility issues while some are left with long-term communication deficits. Stroke survivors with Aphasia may have difficulty talking, understanding what others are saying and trouble with reading and writing. This can be exhausting and frustrating. Sometimes, the wrong word comes out; sometimes, you get stuck saying the same word over and over. Sometimes, the words won’t come at all.

It can feel like being dropped into a foreign country where you don’t speak the language. Using the phone or ordering food at a restaurant can suddenly become challenging. Just saying a friend’s name or sharing an idea can be confusing.

It is essential that stroke survivors with Aphasia and their families and friends know that they are not alone. Help is available. Communication is a two-way process. Successful communication must include both, the person with Aphasia and their communication partner. This blog will provide you with information and strategies for living with aphasia after stroke.  We hope, this gives you a starting point of getting the help you need.

1. Use Visual Cues

Use anything that helps with communication, remembering that people with Aphasia may need help getting messages both in and out. Have a pen and paper available at all times. When writing, use keywords and introduce the topics. It often helps to write them down, draw pictures or diagrams. Point to photos, objects, maps, and calendars to help communicate. You can also:

  • Use a tone of voice and facial expression.
  • Use gesture.
  • Ask questions with simple yes/no answers.
  • Recap to check that stroke survivor got the message right.

2. Sign up for speech and language therapy

Speech and language therapy may take many different forms. It can take place in groups or one-on-one. It can be frequent or occasional. The role of the speech-language pathologist is to support the stroke survivor’s communication recovery in a way that’s practical and relevant to him/her. Together, you will create communication goals that are important to the stroke survivor. These goals might be about activities you want stroke survivors to do again such as banking or shopping or hobbies like music, going to the movies or reading. There may be goals related to getting back to work. What matters most is that you decide.

3. Make them join a support group

Another critical step to stroke recovery can be joining stroke and communication groups. Support is available from others who have had similar experiences. This can be a great social opportunity for conversation and friendship. The important thing to remember is that there is always the possibility of further recovery.
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4. Use technology

Therapy doesn’t just happen in a clinic. There’s a lot you can do at home to improve. Using technology is one example. Encourage stroke survivors to use smartphones, tablets, and apps to communicate their ideas.

Using technology, a stroke survivor can take and show photos, point to places on maps or use special speech ups to get the message across. They can make video calls, send text messages, use social media and join online support groups. Specific therapy apps can be an effective way to improve communication even if it’s been years since your stroke. Stroke survivors can do speech therapy exercises, anytime they want on their own or with a partner.

5. Be patient

Communication and language difficulties after stroke are different for everyone. Try to relax and be natural. Be patient and figure out what supports work best for you and your loved ones. There are positive steps you and the stroke survivor can take to remain engaged and active.


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