Family Gatherings and Aphasia

Big family gatherings can be happy but difficult events for people with aphasia. This is why we discussed our best tips for enjoying the holidays during our last Aphasia Cafe chat on November 20th.

Actually, we gathered up some great tips last year around this time, turning them into a video.

Many of those tips were echoed during the chat, including communicating with the host beforehand and enjoying aphasia-friendly activities, such as listening to music.

But Carol also kicked off the discussion with a great point: Be patient with yourself. Be patient with friends and family, too. Even though people may know you have aphasia, they need a reminder of how to make communication easy for you. Set up a hand signal so you can indicate with little effort that you need people to slow down or give you a little extra time to find your words.

Mary also gave everyone a great idea: “At the table, we have thank you notes. We all write down one or two things we are thankful for and share them while eating. In this manner, there is no rush to share what we are thankful for.”

Sara also shared something profound from the caregiver perspective: “As a caregiver, I’ve learned it’s important to help my mom to give gifts to her family. I used to think she didn’t need to spend her money giving gifts to family, but she enjoys giving those gifts. Without my help, she can’t communicate with family. I’ve learned to support the traditions that are meaningful to her.”

People were looking forward to many things this holiday season including good food, friends and family, and holiday music.

Holiday Gatherings

We’d love to hear YOUR best tips for navigating big family gatherings at the holidays.

Comments

7 Comments

  • ELIZABETH
    December 11, 2019 at 10:05 am

    I HAD SUGGESTED FOR MY HUSBAND WHO HAS APHASIA TO READ OUT LOUD AS I FELT THAT WOULD HELP HIM TO SPEAK. HIS SPEECH THERAPIST , IT APPEARS DOESN’T SUGGEST ANYTHING FOR HIM TO DO TO HELP HIMSELF BETWEEN APPOINTMENTS. ONCE A WEEK IS NOT ENOUGH TO HELP HIM TO LEARN TO TALK AGAIN. DO YOU HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS. THERAPIST ARE HARD TO FIND IN THIS AREA IN MAINE. DO YOU HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS? ANY THING WE COULD PURCHASE TO HELP HIM THE OTHER SIX DAYS OF THE WEEK? THANK YOU

  • Maura
    December 11, 2019 at 11:52 am

    Hi Elizabeth,

    Without knowing specifics about your husband’s aphasia, I often use oral reading (reading out loud) to improve verbal expression. The best help would be to script messages he’d frequently want to say and read those out loud (e.g., writing down a toast or prayer to say at dinner, practicing it, then using the script to give the toast/say the prayer). Also, if you’re looking for a good program with exercises between therapy sessions and have a tablet and internet connection, try Constant Therapy. They offer discounts if the monthly cost is prohibited. Hope this helps!!

  • Lynn D
    December 11, 2019 at 12:00 pm

    Reading helps me a lot. Reading to myself, reading subtitles while watching movies, and sharing a few sentences from the news with my husband. I have discovered that I can type fluently, MUCH better than I speak. The written word provides comfort.

  • Loretta Meffley
    December 11, 2019 at 5:40 pm

    Elizabeth: your husband can do online speech therapy – contact The Aphasia Center in Florida for info

  • Margaret Didden
    December 11, 2019 at 7:47 pm

    First, Find a good young adult librarian at your public library. Ask her/him to choose some titles that can be read and listened to at same time.
    Some audio devices have reading speed that can be regulated; that could be helpful at the start.

    Hope this helps!

  • Heather
    December 12, 2019 at 1:01 am

    Hello!

    My husband has global aphasia and apraxia of speech. He can say only about 20 words or so. Recently, he has been having difficulty coping. We have had no success in traditional counselling. Mainly because he can’t express his thoughts or feelings.
    We recently tried art therapy which he did not like.
    I am wondering if anyone has any other ideas to assist him?

  • Chris Birkbeck
    December 12, 2019 at 2:13 am

    I go twice a week. My speech therapist always has some thing for me to take home to help my learning. There are usually a couple of pages with 4 columns and 6 rows. Each row starts with a letter then everything across that row begins with the same letter. Each column at the top has a clue: e.g. ‘food’, clothing, ‘vehicle’, ‘animal’. What you have to do is everything in a row has to start with the same first letter of the row,

    These pages usually cover all sorts of things. The great thing about them is that you find out just what words you are shaky on. My therapist suggests I look up those I can’t do and then write them in, but personally I prefer to leave them blank and wander around for a day or so to see if I can come up with the words.

    Another alternative is to look up what the missing words are and then write them in in a different colour. There is no point in cheating on these as you are only cheating yourself and it is good for the therapist as she can assess where the difficulties are. Another learning possibility given to me by my therapist to take home is a blank page to fill of 1 to 10 lists of stuff: e.g. items of ‘furniture’ or ‘fruits’, ‘colours’, or ‘school subjects’.

    If someone is really interested in getting their words back all this kind of work will help. You just have to have determination. I have only been doing this for 3 weeks but already I see an improvement. Another thing you can help yourself with is buying children’s school starter books. There are a surprising number of questions that force you to think.

    I am sooooo glad I started this. It was 3 years ago I was diagnosed but I was never informed that there was anywhere to go or that it could be treated? In the end someone told me about it and it was then I started with the treatment. I wish I had have known all that time ago. I might have been fully recovered by now. Oh well, nothing is going to stop me. NEVER GIVE UP!!!!!!!

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