Caregiving for Seniors with Aphasia

grandma and granddaughter arranging flowers Aphasia is a language disorder caused by damage to the language center of the brain. The most common cause of aphasia is stroke. However, people diagnosed with brain tumors or a head injury from falls can also be affected by aphasia.

Aphasia can impact a person’s ability to communicate and understand communication. All areas of communication are involved, including speech, writing, and gestures which is a daily challenge for both seniors and their families.

This month is National Aphasia Awareness Month. We want to take the opportunity to show our support of seniors and families impacted by aphasia. Although aphasia changes communication, it is still possible for seniors to have meaningful connections with others. The following are some helpful communication tips from the National Aphasia Association.

Make sure you have the person’s attention before you speak.
Women talking on couch
A gentle tap on the shoulder or wave before starting a conversation helps prepare seniors.

Keep it simple.

Avoid lengthy sentences or talking down to a senior with aphasia. Think about what you need to say and use simple and short speech.

Use drawings, pictures, and gestures.
woman hugging her grandson
Keep illustration cards handy to help seniors make connections as you communicate. Using illustrated communication cards helps seniors respond more effectively.

Use simple yes and no questions when possible.

Help seniors communicate by phrasing questions in simple terms.

Be positive and encouraging.
senior couple embracing
Communication barriers can bring feelings of frustration, hopelessness, and sadness. Be compassionate and encouraging in all communication.

National Aphasia Association. (2020.). Aphasia caregiver guide. National Aphasia Association.