There is a language disorder that affects millions of Americans, but most people have never heard of it.
The disorder is called aphasia, and according to aphasia.org, nearly 180,000 Americans acquire the disorder each year.
Aphasia is a language disorder that occurs when the parts of the brain that process language are impaired. Aphasia most often is caused by stroke but can also occur after head injuries or a brain tumor. Aphasia doesn’t affect a person’s intelligence – it means they communicate differently now.
Aphasia not only impacts the individual but also their family members or caregivers. It might seem intimidating to communicate with a loved one who has this condition, but it just means you’ll have to communicate with them in a new way. Below are helpful tips for caregivers to consider when communicating:
Take Your Time
The most important thing to remember is to be patient. This condition can be frustrating for the individual, so take your time when communicating. Don’t try to rush through the conversation, finish their sentences or speak over the individual.
Keep Sentences Short
Keep your sentences short and to the point. Longer sentences can be harder to respond to. Instead of asking “Would you like me to grab you something to drink from the kitchen?” Ask “Would you like a drink?”
Make sure the individual has your undivided attention when communicating. Turn off music, televisions or other distracting objects. This makes it easier to focus on the conversation.
Make sure to verify what the individual said to you. Repeat back what you heard them say. For example, ask “You would like to go on a walk?” and then wait for confirmation.
Think Outside the Box
Lastly, think outside the box when you are communicating. For some people, gesturing at objects or showing pictures is very helpful.
Keeping these tips in mind can make communication easier for both the individual with aphasia and the caregiver. For more information and helpful resources, visit aphasia.org.