Signs Of A Stroke: Comfort Keepers of Canada® At Toronto Reviews Aphasias

Seniors and Alcohol Abuse: Information For Toronto Caregivers And Loved Ones

Stroke and Aphasias in Canada

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, stroke is the third leading cause of death in Canada:

  • Six percent of all deaths in Canada are due to stroke (Statistics Canada, 2012)
  • Each year, over 14,000 Canadians die from stroke (Statistics Canada, 2012)
  • Each year, more women than men die from stroke (Statistics Canada, 2012)

Because of its prevalence, stroke is a primary concern for Canadian families caring for elders and senior loved ones. At Comfort Keepers of Toronto, part of our mission in providing senior and elder care is to help family caregivers identify symptoms and warning signs that may be indicative of a stroke. One of these warning signs is called Aphasia.

Stroke Symptoms: What Is Aphasias?

Aphasia is probably not a term most people outside of the medical and research community have heard of, but this disorder affects more than one million people of all ages. Aphasia is a communication disorder that occurs when the language centers of the brain sustain damage from illness, dementia, or injury. In seniors, the most common cause of aphasia is stroke. Victims of aphasia have difficulty communicating with others and may also have difficulty comprehending what others are saying, and this difficulty can be quite severe or very mild, almost unnoticeable.

How Aphasias Affects Toronto’s Senior Stroke Victims

Aphasia can be very stressful for seniors and elders affected by the disorder and for those who are trying to communicate with them. Seniors with aphasias may not have lost other cognitive functions and so may become frustrated and angry at their inability to communicate. They know what they would like to say, but they are unable to say it. This frustration may lead to depression and isolation, and as the senior isolates, the language centers of the brain are used less often, slowing recovery from the aphasia.

How Caregivers Can Help With Aphasias

Having someone in the home interacting with the senior family member with aphasia can aid recovery. In-home caregivers can playing word- and picture-based games, such as Scrabble® or Pictionary®, as well as engage in other therapeutic activities to help the person work the language centers of the brain. Caregivers can also provide the emotional and social support seniors with aphasias need, alleviating feelings of depression and isolation.

Facts About Aphasias: Understanding This Stroke Effect

Family members may also feel helpless and cut off from their elder loved ones when dealing with Aphasia or stroke. They may not fully understand what is happening, so it is essential that they have as much information as possible. Some basic information includes the following:

  • Aphasias do not always become progressively worse. With therapy, seniors can often recover their lost language abilities.
  • The senior’s inability to communicate does not necessarily reflect a decline in cognitive function. The loss of language is not a loss of intelligence. As much as possible, the senior should continue to be included in family activities and decision-making processes.
  • Likewise, the presence of aphasia does not mean the senior has memory loss. Aphasia occurs from damage from the very specific language centers of the brain. It is not that the senior cannot remember language; it is that the senior has lost the ability to formulate and comprehend language.
  • Changing communication styles can help the senior and the family communicate thereby reducing frustration, and anger. Below are a number of communication strategies to help families of seniors with aphasia.
  • Simplify sentences. If the senior does not initially understand what you say, reword the message using simpler words and sentence structures. However, and most importantly, speak to the senior as an adult, not a child. A speech-language therapist can offer suggestions on how to best accomplish this.
  • Give the senior plenty of time to speak. Do not try to speak for the senior.
  • Use touch, gestures, and body language to get your meaning across.
  • Let the person know you understand the frustration he or she feels at not being able to communicate.

For Toronto Family Members Dealing With Aphasia

Family members should also be careful that they take care of themselves during the recovery process. Having a caregiver come into the home can offer a reprieve for the family caregivers to maintain their own social and personal lives while ensuring the needs of the senior are met. Toronto’s Comfort Keepers are experts in providing in-home care for seniors dealing with stroke and other health challenges, and can provide loving support to both the elder family member and their family caregivers. Staying healthy, both mentally and physically, will better enable the family caregivers to support their seniors in need.

For more information on Aphasia, please see references listed below. For additional information on Comfort Keepers of Canada® at Toronto or any other Comfort Keepers of Canada® location please visit our home page or call us at 416-663-2930.

References

  • Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/c.ikIQLcMWJtE/b.3483991/k.34A8/Statistics.htm
  • American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (n.d.). Family Adjustment to Aphasia. Click here for article.
  • American Stroke Association. (March 18, 2013). Types of Aphasia. Click here for article.
  • National Aphasia Association. (n.d.). Aphasia Facts. Click here for article.
  • National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. (October 2008). Aphasia. Article located here.
  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (February 14, 2014). NINDS Aphasia Information Page. Article available here.

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