Among language disorders, Aphasia is among the most common, affecting approximately two-million people in the US, with around 180,000 people diagnosed annually. Aphasia has climbed above Parkinson’s disease in terms of prevalence. While many may think that aphasia is simply a sign of getting old or a symptom of dementia, it strikes young and old, in debilitating ways. Senior Living Experts can help navigate the challenges of a loved one living with aphasia.
What is Aphasia?
It is estimated that around one-million people in the United States suffer from Aphasia. Aphasia is a condition that impacts communication and that results from damage to specific parts of the brain, often caused by a stroke, brain injury, neurological issue, brain tumors, or dementia. Aphasia manifests in issues speaking, comprehending, reading, and writing, but it does not cause cognitive damage.
Some signs of aphasia include:
- Slowed speech.
- Struggle to find the right words.
- Difficulty understanding familiar words.
- Inability to recall names of familiar people.
- Using one word for another; substitution.
- Difficulty following conversations.
Five benefits of assisted living facilities in the South Suburbs when dealing with aphasia are:
Language barriers may be the first notable signs of aphasia and can lead to isolative behaviors and withdrawal among those struggling with aphasia. Individuals may feel embarrassed or confused, which can lead to depression and mood disorders. Engaging with others and conversing is the most effective way to bridge these communication barriers.
Some ways to narrow the gap during conversations with people that have aphasia include:
- Ask closed-ended questions with simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers.
- Take time to repeat and reiterate during a conversation.
- Tailor your words during conversations to minimize and simplify sentiments.
- Use gestures and body language to emphasize a point.
- Indicate what you will discuss when starting a conversation.
These tactics can make interacting less uncomfortable for those with aphasia, and may also encourage them to engage more frequently.
Assessment and evaluation are further vital elements of assisted-living or residential care. There are different types of aphasia, and in some instances, it could be merely a symptom of a serious, underlying medical condition. Dementia-related aphasia can be paired with other limitations and markers that will require assisted care over time, as this decline may be gradual.
When aphasia is caused by traumatic brain injury (TBI), there may be other problems with cognition, including confusion. Depending on the extent of the injury, assisted-living may be able to provide the tools necessary for recovery and rehabilitative support. Some aphasia is temporary, resulting from seizures, injuries, severe infection, or even migraine headache! With so many variables, assessment and ongoing evaluation is a benefit of assisted living in the region to determine the least-restrictive level or care and to provide the support needed to thrive.
Another inherent benefit of assisted living is the access to available resources, including therapists and speech-language specialists. These professionals can work one-on-one with aphasia patients to increase speaking ability and to sharpen communication skills.
These experts utilize some tips to make conversing easier for someone with aphasia:
- Help patients communicate easier with the use of props.
- Write or draw to help convey a message.
- Relax and speak slowly.
- Keep a card in the patient’s wallet alerting others to the fact that they have aphasia.
The environment plays a large role in supporting aphasia patients, too. It is important for individuals to socialize- despite that it may be uncomfortable- and practice conversation with people that can be trusted. Losing the gift of speech can dramatically impact a person’s social life and well-being, and the most effective means of treating aphasia is through conversation and socialization. In fact, providers suggest expediting recovery from a stroke by socializing as soon as possible. An assisted living residence provides a setting that fosters socialization and that forges trusting rapports with others- the foundation for treatment and recovery.
assisted living facilities will have access to supports that can also aid in recovery from aphasia. These resources may be more focused on getting the aphasia patient out into the community and to foster a sense of solidarity and connection with other people. Often times, those with language barriers feel a sense of isolation and being alone; becoming a part of a greater community can provide a sense of purpose and belonging that is key in recovery.
Foster community involvement by supporting participation in these outings and activities:
- Church events or spiritual retreats.
- Social gatherings or parties.
- Volunteer opportunities.
- Work or vocational activities.
- Leisure interest groups.
- Area support groups.
Assisted living facilities have a lot to offer aphasia patients, and these may be the best setting for those recovering from this condition. The on-site resources make it feasible to obtain services that may not be readily available for individuals living independently. Whether recuperating from temporary aphasia caused by an injury or dealing with the communication deterioration from dementia, Senior Living Experts in the South Suburbs area know how to deal with aphasia and provide a therapeutic setting for those struggling with language barriers.