Non-fluent aphasia is a type of stroke-related speech impairment that can make it difficult or impossible for a stroke survivor to verbally communicate. Over time, the brain may rewire itself enough to restore this ability. While you’re waiting to see if this happens with your senior loved one, there are some ways you can still communicate if he or she is unable to speak.
1. Don’t Dumb Down Conversations
Just because a stroke survivor is unable to verbalize doesn’t mean his or her intelligence is diminished. Speak to your loved one in much the same way you always did before the stroke. If you notice he or she is having a difficult time following you, it can be helpful to:
- Speak a bit more slowly and clearly
- Watch your loved one’s expressions so you can tell what he or she does understand
- Avoid speaking loudly, as this may cause confusion or come off as condescending
An experienced professional caregiver can be a wonderful source of support for a senior who is recovering from a stroke. Families looking for top-rated elder care providers can reach out to Home Care Assistance. From respite care to specialized Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care, there are many ways we can make life easier for seniors and their loved ones.
2. Pay Attention to Facial Expressions
If your loved one doesn’t have facial paralysis because of the stroke, watch his or her expressions as you speak to him or her. Some stroke survivors are able to move their mouths in response to what they’re hearing. Their eyes can also give clues about how they’re feeling or what they’re trying to express.
3. Ask Yes/No Questions
One way to figure out what your loved one wants while recovering from a stroke is to ask questions that require simple “yes” or “no” responses. Base your questions on what you know about his or her likes, dislikes, and personal preferences. For instance, if you know your loved one usually watches a favorite show at a certain time, you might ask, “Do you want me to put the TV on now?” Yes-or-no questions can also help your loved one let you know:
- What he or she prefers for meals
- If he or she is in pain
- What might be bothering him or her about the immediate environment (e.g., if you notice there’s too much sunlight in the room, ask, “Do you want the curtains closed?”)
Certain age-related conditions can make it more challenging for seniors to age in place safely and comfortably, but Kennebunk live-in care experts are available around the clock to help seniors manage their health. Whether your loved one is living with dementia or recovering from a stroke, you can trust the professional live-in caregivers from Home Care Assistance to enhance his or her quality of life.
4. Use a Communication Board
A communication board is a board with various symbols and pictures that represent common tasks and feelings. A board like this—especially one designed specifically for adult stroke survivors—can be an effective way for your loved one to quickly let you know what he or she is feeling or requesting. All your loved one has to do is point or gesture toward the parts of the board that represent what he or she wishes to express. Apps such as Proloquo2Go can achieve the same goal by allowing your loved one to point to symbols and images on the screen of a computer, tablet, or smartphone.
5. Minimize Distractions
Attempting to communicate nonverbally can be more frustrating for a stroke survivor if there are too many distractions, such as a loud TV, in the immediate environment. If you notice your loved one getting irritated, tone down the distractions so you can focus on letting him or her communicate.
6. Plan Activities that Allow for Nonverbal Communication
Answering yes/no questions and using other communication tools can be exhausting at times for senior stroke survivors. Give your loved one a break by planning activities that still allow him or her to be expressive without having to try so hard. Such activities might include:
- Going for a casual walk together, if your loved one is ambulatory
- Watching a favorite TV show or movie
- Cooking together, depending on your loved one’s level of abilities
Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Kennebunk Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care. Schedule a free in-home consultation by giving us a call today at (207) 835-4849.