A communication board is meant to serve as a visual representation of language that’s normally spoken. It’s an important stroke recovery tool for older adults who are unable to verbally communicate. While the ability to verbalize thoughts, wants, and needs may return at some point, a communication board can allow your senior loved one to express him or herself in the meantime. Here’s how to use this type of stroke recovery tool.
Customize It for Your Loved One
There are communication boards you can buy that already have common words, phrases, and symbols on them. You can also find online “virtual boards” that are already set up with basic expressions and terms. It can also be helpful to customize a board to fit your loved one’s needs. Ways to do this include:
• Using precut Velcro squares to attach to blank “cells” or squares so you can add words, expressions, or images that are customized for your loved one
• Opting for a dry erase communication board to make it easier to add new words or expressions
• Using free software programs you can find online to create customized images for a computer-based communication board
Make Sure It Has “Yes” and “No” Spaces to Allow for Additional Communication
If you go with a customized physical board or an online board, make sure it has “yes” and “no” spaces so you can ask follow-up questions. These two spaces can also be used to hold simple conversations or determine what your loved one needs to feel comfortable (e.g., “Do you need another pillow?”).
Experienced professional caregivers can provide tips for communicating with senior stroke survivors. There are a variety of age-related health conditions that can make it more challenging for seniors to live independently. However, many of the challenges they face can be easier to manage if their families opt for professional home care service. Portland families can rely on expertly trained caregivers to keep their loved ones safe and comfortable while aging in place.
Show Your Loved One How to Use It
Don’t assume your loved one will automatically know how to use a communication board. Some stroke survivors become easily confused when they’re introduced to something new. Use plain, clear words as you demonstrate how your loved one can point to certain squares or cells on the board to express him or herself.
Verbalize What Your Loved One Points To
If your loved one has limited use of the hands, he or she may have difficulty clearly pointing to the part or cell that represents what he or she wishes to express. Avoid unintended confusion by verbally naming what you believe your loved one is referring to on the board if it’s not clear from the gestures or movements he or she makes.
Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality senior care. Trust Home Care Assistance to help your elderly loved one age in place safely and comfortably.
Consider Your Loved One’s Other Limitations
The type of board you choose and how you use it will also depend on other stroke-related limitations your loved one has. For example, if your loved one has a difficult time extending his or her arm to point, you could opt for a smaller communication board or one that’s accessible with a tablet computer, both of which can be placed on a lap pillow so your loved one can just use his or her hands or fingers to touch the desired space or cell.
Always Keep the Board Available
Lastly, make sure the communication board is easily available and accessible for your loved one during recovery. You might do this by:
• Placing the board next to the bed
• Buying or creating a smaller board that can be easily transported
• Putting the board on a nearby table or hanging it on a wall so your loved one can point to it when he or she wishes to use it
Having a caregiver close by can give your loved one peace of mind while he or she recovers from a stroke. If your senior loved one needs hourly or live-in care, Portland Home Care Assistance can help. Our caregivers can assist with exercise and mobility, prepare nutritious meals, provide timely medication reminders, and help with a wide array of other important daily tasks. Call Home Care Assistance at (207) 835-4849 to learn more about our flexible and customizable senior care plans.