Scottsdale Healthcare Company Honors Aphasia Awareness Month
Santé™ provides tips to recognize and address the condition affecting nearly two million Americans
Scottsdale, Ariz. (June 27, 2022) – It’s estimated that upward of 2 million Americans have aphasia, yet a majority of people are unfamiliar with this condition. Most often caused by strokes, aphasia impacts a person’s speech and language abilities, leading to struggles with communication. Despite their jumbled or hard-to-understand speech, people with aphasia remain mentally alert.
“Aphasia is an impairment of language rather than one of cognition,” notes John Giamber, who oversees the transitional rehabilitation centers for Santé™ across Arizona. “Imagine you’re in a foreign country, one whose language you studied decades ago. As you wander through the town, you hear words that sound familiar, but responses escape you. Your words sit on the tip of your tongue, constantly out of reach. Often, this is how aphasia feels.”
Aphasia symptoms range from mild (difficulty finding words) to severe (total loss of speech and comprehension); however, research shows that recovery is possible. Continued speech therapy can bring about marked communicative improvement, even years after the onset of aphasia. In tandem with therapeutic models of care, Santé also helps equip families with the tools to support their loved ones.
In honor of Aphasia Awareness Month, we offer the following strategies to help your loved one work through aphasia impairment.
Keep it simple, NOT condescending
Continue to treat your loved one like the mature person they are. That said, you will want to speak more slowly, giving them the time to formulate their thoughts and reply. In some cases, you might even avoid open-ended questions in favor of those with yes or no responses. You might also consider turning off the TV or radio, keeping audio distractions to a minimum.
Listen patiently and beyond words
While words may escape your loved one, they might be able to communicate through facial expressions and body language. Pay close attention to these visual cues.
If your loved one speaks, and you’re unable to understand them, it’s okay to tell them this is the case. Ask them to repeat themselves. As frustrated as you might feel waiting for your loved one to formulate a verbal response, they’re likely even more frustrated. By remaining patient, you’ll allow your loved one to feel comfortable working through comprehension issues.
While some aphasic patients may recover fully, many never regain pre-injury communication levels, making it essential to help them utilize their remaining skills to the maximum capacity. Alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) devices like eye-tracking tablets and speech-generating devices often prove instrumental in restoring communicative abilities.
At Santé, speech-language pathologists work to achieve the best level of communication for each resident. A team of therapists and caregivers works with patients and their families to create a holistic care plan for stroke recovery.
Santé was founded in 2008 on the premise of reshaping the way guests and patients receive care, believing that compassion has the power to heal, transform, inspire and comfort. Santé specializes in short-term skilled nursing, rehabilitation and outpatient therapy, home health, palliative and hospice care in Surprise, North Scottsdale, Mesa and Chandler. For more information, visit santecares.com.