Tips for Communicating with a Stroke Survivor Who’s Unable to Talk

By Patricia Schumacher, 9:00 am on

Many stroke survivors face difficulty with communication during their recovery. In some cases, they may not be able to speak at first, but they may be able to regain their skills if the damage isn’t severe. You can use these strategies to communicate with a senior loved one who is unable to speak so he or she feels loved and secure.

Assume Your Loved One Can Understand You

The ability to speak and understand language are two completely separate skills. Always avoid saying anything in front of your loved one you don’t want him or her to hear. For instance, if you express frustration about your parent’s inability to speak, it may cause your loved one to stop trying. Your loved one likely understands more than he or she conveys. Make sure any language you use is positive, and remember a little encouragement goes a long way toward helping your loved one stay motivated to keep trying to regain his or her speech.

An experienced professional caregiver can be a wonderful source of support for a senior recovering from a stroke. 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 Rhode Island elderly 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.

Limit Background Distractions

Your loved one’s efforts at communication may be more noticeable when there aren’t distractions going on in the background. Try to limit your conversations to only you and two or fewer other people to prevent people from trying to jump in too soon and fill the gaps in your loved one’s communication. You may also want to turn off televisions and other noises that could drown out language your loved one might try to use. Once a stroke survivor does begin to speak, it’s common for the language to be garbled or slurred at first. Eliminating all other noises makes it easier to hear what he or she actually means.

Use Pictures

People who are nonverbal often use picture cues to make their needs known. Consider putting together some picture cards that apply to parts of your loved one’s day. For instance, you could have a card that represents the menu options for lunch, or you may show your loved one a card that has an image of a toilet to find out if he or she needs to use the restroom. Then just show your loved one the cards and instruct him or her to point to the one he or she wants. Remember to keep the cards simple, and only present a few choices until your loved one begins to show progress. You may also be able to use simple words such as “yes” and “no” on the cards if your loved one seems to do well with written language.

Certain age-related conditions can make it more challenging for seniors to age in place safely and comfortably, but Rhode Island 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.

Watch for Nonverbal Language

Stroke survivors can also speak volumes through their facial expressions and movements. For instance, your loved one may move a hand closer to you if he or she needs to express affection or let you know he or she needs something. Your loved one may begin to close his or her eyes if tired or wince if in pain. Continue to watch how your loved one responds to the different things you say to see if his or her reactions hold a clue as to what he or she is wanting to say.

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 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. Home Care Assistance can be your trusted partner in caregiving for your aging loved one. Contact one of our experienced Care Managers today at (401) 284-0979 to learn more about our reliable in-home care services.