Communicating with a Stroke Survivor Who Isn’t Able to Speak

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Once the medical team stabilizes a stroke survivor, rehabilitation begins. Approximately one third of senior stroke survivors lose the ability to speak. Other adults do retain their speaking ability but can’t remember the correct words to express themselves. There are a variety of tools family members might find useful in helping an older loved one regain his or her communication skills.

The Written Word

If a senior experiences dysarthria following a stroke, it’s because the muscles needed to speak are too weak. Seniors might be able to make sounds but be unable to form words. Some stroke survivors may be able to write to make their needs known. A simple pad of paper and a pencil are handy tools a stroke survivor can use to communicate. A portable whiteboard is another option. The senior writes words or sentences on the board with a marker. An eraser or cloth wipes the board clean for the next reply or request. A mobile device or laptop can also be used. The stroke survivor merely needs to use the notepad program to type in requests and responses. Electronic devices are also a good way for seniors to communicate with loved ones via text messages.

If your elderly loved one needs help maintaining a high quality of life while aging in place, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a trusted provider of senior home care. Our caregivers provide transportation to and from medical appointments and social events, nutritious meal preparation, assistance with daily exercise, and help with everyday tasks like bathing, grooming, and light housekeeping.

Talking Devices

These self-contained electronic tools have pre-recorded messages stroke survivors can use to communicate with others. A talking device can be used to make a simple request or give a response by simply choosing an image. The device then verbalizes what the image represents. Other devices contain written words or phrases that are converted into speech. More sophisticated versions enable users to type personalized messages on a keyboard, and the device verbally conveys the messages with the push of a button. Messages can be stored for later use, if desired. Apps that perform the same function are also available for mobile devices.

Image Sets

Stroke survivors may have endured damage to the language center of the brain. As such, they may have difficulty using the right words when trying to communicate. Image or symbol sets enable seniors to simply point to pictures that convey what they’re trying to express. Many types of sets are available, ranging from singular pages to booklets featuring images that represent a wide variety of topics. Image sets are also available as downloadable apps for older adults who are comfortable using a smartphone, laptop, or tablet.

Certain age-related conditions can make it more challenging for seniors to age in place safely and comfortably, but Waterloo live-in care experts are available around the clock to help seniors manage their health. Whether your loved one is living with dementia or is recovering from a stroke, you can trust the professional live-in caregivers from Home Care Assistance to enhance his or her quality of life.

Sign Language

In the event a senior never regains the ability to speak, sign language can be a great communication method. Stroke survivors and their family members might want to consider learning American Sign Language. By signing the letters of the alphabet and the various symbols for words, older adults can easily answer questions and make requests. Instructional books are available at the local library, and there are many online videos demonstrating the most commonly used signs.

Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Waterloo Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care. Reach out to one of our Care Managers today at 319-260-2222 to schedule a free in-home consultation.