Improving the lives of people with aphasia and their families


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  • Keep interacting with the person with aphasia. Don’t focus on getting the message or communication exchange perfect. Sharing the message and staying connected is what really matters.
  • Talking and communication are not just about getting messages across or conveying lots of information. What we actually say may not be that meaningful, and may even be somewhat predictable or repetitive, e.g. talking about the weather. However this kind of “small talk” is valuable in terms of sharing and staying connected with friends and family.
  • Try not to do all the “talking” for the person with aphasia.
  • Encourage the person to keep working on their language and communication skills during their daily lives and in therapy, not only early on, but also over their lifetime.
  • Think about what else you can do together that’s fun or relaxing and allows you to socialise and stay connected. Some ideas for activities that don’t rely on lots of words or language include:
  • going for a walk
  • gardening
  • listening to music
  • looking at old photos
  • having a massage
  • going out for coffee
  • going fishing or to the footy
  • spending time with the grandchildren
  • doing a recreation/sport such as bird watching or table tennis
  • watching TV or hiring a DVD
  • going to the movies
  • playing simple board games and cards
  • discovering a new creative talent such as art or mosaic
  • enjoying a novel together and reading to your loved one
  • listening to “talking books” that you can borrow from the library
  • playing chess or poker.
  • Organise other family or friends to do set activities with the person with aphasia on a regular basis. This provides:
    • a regular structured activity for the person with aphasia
    • a  way for the person with aphasia to keep connected socially
    • a regular break for the carer
    • something for the person with aphasia and carer to communicate about to allow on-going sharing and connection.

Friends or family could do any of the activities suggested above. Other ideas include:

    • reading to the person with aphasia
    • playing petanque
    • having a regular lunch or coffee date
    • joining a card or mahjong club
    • going with them to a elderly citizen’s club or any other club
    • sorting through old photos
    • going with them to an environmental group e.g. “dune care group” or local “tree planting days”
    • Tai chi class.
  • Encourage independence. Allow them to take on their usual roles, or take on new roles, as they are able to.
  • Focus on the positive things people with aphasia can do or achieve. Set goals that are realistic. Be encouraging without being demanding. Be patient.
  • Involve the person with aphasia in decision making for themselves and the family.
  • Teach family and friends about aphasia. Demonstrate communication strategies you know work.
  • Continue asking the doctors and therapists for information about what’s happened, what to expect, and how to help, whether your relative has had aphasia for weeks, months or even years. Information you receive means different things to you at different times.

Look after yourself

Don’t forget to look after yourself and your own needs. Use friends and family for support. Ask for help and give yourself breaks. Even if you can physically do everything yourself, consider asking for help or paying for extra assistance. Register with agencies that will support you….the carer.
Ideas include:

  • Having a cleaner once a week so you can spend more time doing the things you enjoy together.
  • Having an agency provide personal care for your loved one.
  • Having a regular family member, friend or respite care agency stay with the person for a few hours while you take time out.
  • Try to continue your usual regular activities, classes, sports, social outings etc.
  • Stay connected with your friends.

People with aphasia and their families have different ways of coping. They are dealing with grief and loss. You as a family member or carer may feel a range of emotions such as anger, frustration, confusion, stress, loneliness, or embarrassment. Consider seeking counselling or asking for extra support.

  Telephoning: 08 8443 5555 The Talkback Association for Aphasia Inc.
302 South Road, Hilton.
South Australia, 5033