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Wolf and Daisy Story

It is important for everybody to have good friendships and relationships with other people who take a real interest in their lives.

Acquiring aphasia can impact on how we relate to others, and how others relate to us, yet the ‘need and desire’ for relationships remain the same.

Circumstances may change after an injury to the brain and contact with those important people in our lives may decrease. The person who has aphasia may no longer be able to work or they may not be capable of the sports and hobbies that once brought them together with others. They may no longer have the same independence (such as driving) or the same stamina to keep relationships alive.

Some friends may find it difficult or awkward to relate with someone who now has aphasia, and this may cause them to avoid contact as before. It can be hard for those who don’t understand too.

It is important to maintain old friendships and nurture new ones. This may take some effort to set up, but once established it should run without too much organizing.

Those ‘others’ in your life, who you include as part of your circle, will appreciative, cherish and enjoy their time with you and you with them!

Let me tell you a little about Wolf’s story and how a friend of his helped us to find a simple solution to the social isolation that was sadly becoming evident after his stroke at age 52 years.

Before his stroke, Wolf worked full time in aged care as an accountant. His work colleagues were a big part of his life. Lunches and coffee, chats and the sharing of personal interests, were an enjoyable aspect of the work environment.

Wolf was very involved with soccer not only playing himself but with his 5 children. Soccer games were extended to a drink with the mates afterwards and catch ups in between. Wolf shared this common interest and got to know the dads of the boys really well too.

Wolf was involved with Explorers where he would meet fortnightly with other dads along with the boys, and spend time over a port by the bonfire, enjoying one another’s company.

These are just a few of the social activities that would ensure ‘bloke time’ that just can’t happen in the same context, now that Wolf is affected by his stroke.

When Wolf had his stroke 4 years ago, we were inundated with support from friends, but as the months wore on these people slowly began to disappear. The places where Wolf once socialised and connected with others, were either no longer accessible to him in his wheelchair, or he was no longer capable of pursuing these activities. Without the convenience of getting together in the context of these established routines, their contact with Wolf diminished.

 So…. our friend Jayne took on the role of ensuring the network of old mates remained around him. Those in this circle are ecstatic to have this special time with Wolf and Wolf’s fortnightly schedule is always booked well in advance due to its popularity. They have learned how to be patient with Wolf giving him time to find words. They have developed strategies to encourage him to be part of the conversation. They have also learned that he is the same person that they have always known, despite the fact that he finds communicating difficult. Together they have fun, laugh and joke just as always. Spending time together is important to both parties.  Wolf also loves to hear about their lives and know that he remains appreciated and accepted. Such a simple arrangement has made a huge difference to Wolf’s life and to the lives of his friends who now have regular opportunities to enjoy Wolf’s company.

There was no obligation for anyone to come on board, yet Wolf’s schedule is always fully booked and it has been operating for over 2 years now.  He has remained in contact with many old work colleagues and friends that may not be in his life otherwise.

Setting it up and monitoring

  • Having an extensive email list of contacts for Wolf was the first step. Much easier to send one invitation to all, rather than individual invites through the post or phone.
  • An email is sent every 3 or so months to everyone, identifying the lunch dates for that 3 month period, reiterating the café and time and inviting people to contact me directly with dates they wish to book.
  • We record these in the ‘Wolf lunch diary’ and confirm with the person/s the day before the lunch that they are still available.  Once again we do all of this through email.
  • Some things that work for Wolf:  only two people at lunch each time (adds to Wolf’s ability to be totally involved in conversations, yet gives him a break while the visitors chat if needed); always meet at the same place and at the same time  (people grow accustomed to one another and the lunch café and waiting staff); take along photos or things to show and talk about; if the person has severe aphasia, a quick email to the friend/s with relevant conversation topics about things that have happened recently can be helpful.
  Telephoning: 08 8443 5555 The Talkback Association for Aphasia Inc.
302 South Road, Hilton.
South Australia, 5033