Stroke is actually an injury to the brain and can impair a person’s ability to communicate. Loved ones and caregivers often have the important task of learning how to communicate with the stroke survivor. One third of people who have had a stroke suffered damage in the left portion of the brain, which is the main language center.
There are three main communication conditions that result from stroke: aphasia, dysarthria, and dyspraxia.
1) Aphasia is the most prevalent communication disorder that is seen after stroke. It may be characterized by not being able to understand what is being said, not being able to express what you want to say, or it could affect your reading and writing skills.
2) Dysarthria occurs due to weakness in muscles that control the lips, tongue, voice, and a person’s breathing. With this condition people are able to find their words but are unable to communicate them clearly, the voice itself may even sound different, andthere may be a struggle in projecting their voice, as well.
3) Dyspraxia is the inability for certain muscles to move or coordinate the proper movements in order to clearly state words. It is not that the muscles are weakened but has to do with the coordination of muscles working together to form a word. For a person, with dyspraxia it can sometimes be even more difficult to pronounce words when asked specifically to do so. Sometimes the ability to make a sound is also absent.
Caregivers can take an active role in helping a loved one who has had a stroke by implementing some of the following listening tips:
1) Be patient. They may need more time to express or find meaning in a conversation.
2) Use a normal voice. Remember they are an adult. They do not necessarily have a hearing problem or a change in their intelligence.
3) Do not interrupt or fill in a word for them. Give them time to complete their sentence.
4) Clarify with them when you understand and ask if you captured correctly what they were saying.
5)Don’t be afraid to tell them when you don’t understand. They may need to repeat it or you can ask them different questions that will help them to find the right word.
Stroke survivors appreciate your honest efforts and patience as they attempt to communicate.
At Home Care Assistance, our clients thrive. We train our caregivers in our exclusive Balanced Care MethodTM , a whole-person wellness approach incorporating nutrition, mental and physical stimulation, and a sense of purpose. Clients and their families tell us our care brings a better quality of life. If you need help caring for an older adult in your life, call us today, 402-261-5158.
Photo Credit: After The Stroke, by JD Harvill