If you are struggling to communicate with your loved one with aphasia, you are not alone. A recent study by Lingraphica that involved over 700 caregivers of people with aphasia revealed that 93% find their inability to communicate with that person is the single biggest challenge.
As we know, aphasia can manifest in several ways depending on the areas of the brain that were damaged following a stroke or traumatic brain injury.
Some will struggle with spoken language and others with language comprehension. Others may struggle to express themselves in writing or to understand written language. Most will have some mix of these impairments. This can make it quite difficult to know how best to communicate with your loved one, especially right after an initial aphasia diagnosis.
Although there is no method that will universally apply when communicating with all individuals who have aphasia, there are several tried-and-true strategies that can make a world of difference in your daily communication with one another.
Here are three communication shortcuts that you can start practicing right away. Through a combination of patience, persistence, and trial and error, you’ll undoubtedly discover the best shortcuts to use when communicating with your loved one.
Aphasia Communication Shortcuts You Can Use Today
1. Use Gestures and Body Language
Since many people with aphasia struggle to comprehend spoken language, we strongly recommend you use body language and common gestures to convey your message and confirm that you’ve understood your loved one’s message. For example, use a thumbs up or down, nod or shake your head, or simply point to object as and when appropriate.
2. Stick to One Thought Per Sentence
Again, because comprehension can be an issue for some, it’s best to stick to one idea at a time. For example, if you ask your loved one what they’d like for lunch, it’s best to present a single option at a time. “Would you like some chicken salad?” will be easier for them to understand than, “Would you like chicken salad, a sandwich, or soup?”
3. Use a Communication Aid
Since many people with aphasia cannot communicate effectively verbally, consider how they might benefit from something as simple as a sheet of paper and a marker, or an erasable whiteboard. These devices allow them to write out keywords and phrases, or simply draw what they would like to express.
Although it may take some time to discover the best method of communication for you and your loved one, you can be sure that any short-term frustration will lead to greater understanding and communication in the long term.
If you’d like to learn more about how Lingraphica can help you to improve communication with your loved one, schedule a 15-minute call with a Communication Specialist today.
My spouse’s aphasia is an after affect of Multiple Sclerosis. It may be a result one of the MS medicines she was on. MS neurologists have not been able to determine the cause. To add to problems for this care giver, she is also losing short term memory and some long term memory. Fortunately, she is able to care for herself and still helps some around the house. The worst issue for her is the lack of socialization.