Spoken communication within the family changes when a stroke affects a member of the family. When one person in a family is struggling to communicate, the whole family is affected. Everyone in the family needs tips for spoken communication within the family. The survivor especially, needs tips and support, so that they can find solutions to stroke-related communication challenges.
Stroke-related problems with spoken communication often occur following injury to the left side of the brain.
Communication is a goal whether a stroke survivor is in hospital, has moved to a rehab facility or has been discharged. Of course, doctors and staff want communication. They want to see their patient getting better. But it is not like family.
The family members are longing for their loved one to communicate with them.
Techniques and Technology to the Rescue
Oh, how we would wish for some stroke-knowledgeable superman to fly in and whisk away the issues. Usually though, improvement in spoken communication within the family, following stroke often involves:
- Exposure to and investigation of technology
- Professionals with experience
- A considerable amount of effort
Let’s look at some techniques that encourage or enable communication.
Ideas for Enhancing Communication for Survivors
Let’s consider ideas that are known and familiar, as well as newer and perhaps more daring ones:
The actual environment:
- Make it easier to communicate by filtering out background noise.
- Close the door of the room or bend down close to hear.
- Give the person time and emotional space to communicate.
- Listen carefully, but don’t finish sentences for a person who can speak, but takes time.
- Focus on communicating. Don’t do other things at the same time.
- Read up about other ways to improve communication techniques.
- Read about the experiences of others. No two people go through it the same way, but we can always learn from others. Here are some do’s and don’ts directly from people who struggled to regain their speech.
- The above link is a section from what is quite a long article which is well-written and worth reading all the way through, if you can manage.
For people who know what they want to say, but have trouble getting the words out:
- Using a notebook to draw something or write in words.
- Pointing to words or images on an idea-board for things a person commonly wants.
- Prepare a mood board with smiley faces expressing a variety of expressions. This can be a get-around for people who have a fixed facial expression. They may appear to be depressed on the outside. But on the inside, they are longing for human connection.
Investigate new apps and programs that survivors can use to improve their spoke and other communication:
- Some of the best apps: Saebo’s collection and MNT’s collection
- Find out about speech generating devices. Lingraphica is a company that is dedicated to helping people find apps or device to aid spoken communication. This is also known as ‘augmentative and alternative communication’ or AAC .
- Look up eye-gaze electronic solutions such as the Tobii I-15+ or, a computer mouse that is controlled with the eyes. Look up a fuller list of what is available through EyeGaze.
Points to Consider
- The speech of a large percentage of stroke survivors is affected by aphasia and other communication problems. A person can sign up to aphasia.org to get tips and advice, videos and emails about aphasia and relevant solutions.
- Some survivors feel embarrassed about the stroke-related issues they live with. A supportive environment is essential to recovery.
- Any patient who takes part in speech therapy should do their best to do all exercises given for in-between sessions. Going to sessions demands self-control and determination from BOTH the patient and their family/support.
- A stroke survivor needs: motivation, knowledge, an “enriched rehabilitation environment” , daily routines for time outside of therapy. Through maintaining motivation and routine, the self-respect of the survivor is upheld. It is a joint goal that encourages, spoken communication within the family.
- A patient will complete a series of speech therapy sessions. The benefits will often continue to accrue after the series has ended. Keep the contact information of the therapist. You want to be able to share the good news when it comes!
We touched the surface of the subject matter. Since there are many different types of communication issues, and spoken language problems, there will be many solutions.
Spoken communication within the family is a complex dynamic. The family unit is one where we each give and receive, therefore, we interact with each other and affect each other. Don’t lose heart in the face of the challenge. We can strengthen ourselves by saying, that “wherever damage can occur, we can build.”
That means, that if sometimes, the family just doesn’t feel up to the challenge, they should not give up. Taking time out for the carer to gather their strength cannot be emphasized enough. And of course, for the stroke survivor this is true too. It is exhausting to keep working to get back speech and other things that were givens, once.
Let’s harness these tools and messages to promote the best possible spoken communication within the family!