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E17: Talking Turkey about Aphasia Inclusion at the Holidays

Let's talk about strategies to include your loved one with aphasia during the holidays. Cheers.

๐Ÿฆƒ  TALKING TURKEY ABOUT APHASIA INCLUSION DURING THE HOLIDAYS  ๐Ÿฆƒ

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THIS WEEK'S EPISODE ABOUT SUPPORTING YOUR LOVED ONE AT YOUR HOLIDAY GATHERINGS

1. call your guests before they arrive to let them know the best ways to interact and give them some ideas about activities to be inclusive

2. setting up a communication buddy for the gathering

3. recruiting key family or friends to look out for your loved one with aphasia when you have other holiday responsibilities

4. allow for some communication struggles; it can help with growth

5. grab some activity ideas, too, from the guide  ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿป

HOW TO INCLUDE YOUR LOVED ONE WITH APHASIA AT THE HOLIDAYS
A Practical Guide for Including Your Loved One with Aphasia

DOWNLOAD The Talking Turkey Guide about Aphasia Inclusion at the Holidays







TRANSCRIPT

Talking Turkey about Aphasia Inclusion

QUOTE

"It is truly possible to converse, make memories, and connect even with limited speech. They are the person, you know. Their memories, experiences, and knowledge are still there. Aphasia is the condition that has broken these connections. Figure out a way to communicate. Limited speech is not limited voice."

Welcome to the Listen for Life podcast with Genevieve Richardson. Genevieve is a speech-language pathologist rehabilitating adults with communication challenges after a stroke or due to neurological impairment. Living with aphasia is hard. Caregiving is hard. You are not alone. Get equipped with knowledge from experts in the field and professionals.

You need to know. We'll hear stories and experiences from others who are navigating life with aphasia. So put your earphones in and take a walk outside. This isn't just a podcast. This is a community, a resource, and a support system. We're in this together. Do life.


TALKING TURKEY

Let's Talk Turkey about aphasia inclusion at the holidays. I came up with this idea because many of my personal clients are going to be traveling or have out-of-town relatives coming to the house, and I wanted to make sure that everyone felt included and part of the gathering. So first off, I'd like to talk about the spouse bridging the gap.


THE SPOUSE CAN BRIDGE THE GAP

The spouse or significant other is in a unique position to really know their personalities and how they communicate. They can bridge the gap by having a quick phone conversation with some of the key guests that are coming to the house. Let them know how the person is communicating, what works for them, and how specifically that person can engage in a conversation with them.


MODELING

Modeling is an excellent way of demonstrating how the spouse communicates with the person with aphasia so that the guests can feel more comfortable and hopefully take the chance that they won't feel foolish trying to communicate. Above all, we want our guests and our spouses, and our person with aphasia to be authentic.


BE AUTHENTIC

We want to encourage family and friends to be themselves when they're interacting. Yes, there could be a discomfort when you don't immediately know what someone's saying. Often a person doesn't know how to respond to that. They get embarrassed, and rather than feel embarrassed. Then they don't try to engage.

I really challenge every family to figure out a way to help each guest be authentic and to interact.


BODY LANGUAGE, TONE OF VOICE, AND FACIAL EXPRESSION GIVE INFORMATION TO THE PERSON WITH APHASIA

Remember that your body language, your facial expression, and the tone of your voice all convey information. If you are happy, the person with aphasia is going to pick that up and respond in kind. So some good techniques for communicating, in general, give choices.

GIVE CHOICES

would you like ham or Turkey? Would you like soda or water?


SPEAK JUST A BIT SLOWER

Speak just a little bit slower. That's what I'm doing right here. So my normal speaking rate is somewhere around here. I don't know how many words per minute that is, but if I just slow down a smidge, if I pause a little bit in the middle of a long sentence or after a sentence. You would be surprised how helpful that is for the person with aphasia to better process what they're hearing.


NO NEED TO SPEAK LOUDER UNLESS THERE IS A HEARING IMPAIRMENT

There is no need to speak louder unless, of course, there is a legitimate hearing impairment. Someone with aphasia does not inherently have a, um, deafness problem or a hard of hearing issue.

Speaking louder is not going to help. Plus, if you really have to project your voice, it's going to throw off your mannerisms and how you come. If you ask a question or make a comment directed at a person with aphasia, you're going to wanna pause for two seconds. Feels like a really long time. But if it looks like they are making an effort to respond, just sit there and breathe.


AVOID INTERRUPTING 

Smile the. What you don't want to do is to interrupt them. Uh, you may feel like you're being helpful, but oftentimes you will derail someone with aphasia by queuing them, by giving them a hint as to the word you think they are wanting to say. Also, be relaxed; being up tense in your shoulders and approaching your ears is not going to be helpful. It's going to add stress, and the person with aphasia is going to perceive that, and they will also internalize that stress and make communication more difficult. Speak with the intention of interacting. Uh, ask a question like you are expecting them to respond back to you.

Supplement your message with gestures. If you're talking about a thing, maybe you can grab that thing or hold it up or point to it or refer to it in some way..


SPOUSE CAN BRIDGE THE GAP IN APHASIA

So back to the spouse bridging the gap. I have three little points I'd like to cover. Prepare your guests, and acknowledge to your guests that they might feel uncomfortable or self-conscious interacting. Assure them that your spouse is not going to break, is not gonna get mad, and is not going to act up if the communication falls.

Remind your guest, and this is point number two, that your spouse is the same person that they know. His personality is still there. He just can't communicate. The problem with aphasia is that it interferes with the person pulling out the knowledge they already have. All their smarts are still there. They just can't access the words, the messages, and the concepts that they want to convey externally.


APHASIA IS DIFFERENT FOR EACH INDIVIDUAL

Of course, I am painting with a broad brush when it comes to aphasia when I'm giving these tips. Every individual with aphasia is different from another. So the last point here is, depending on the gathering size, see if you can recruit one or two specific guests, or if it's an older person, a grandchild, perhaps that can be the buddy that can serve as that kind of go-between for communication.


WISE WORDS FROM A SPOUSE

So I have a quote here from one of the spouses that I worked with. "It is truly possible to converse, make memories, and connect even with limited speech. They are the person, you know. Their memories, experiences, and knowledge are still there. Aphasia is the condition that has broken these connections. Figure out a way to communicate. Limited speech is not limited voice."


TEAMING UP TO PLAY GAMES

I love that. That's a great quote. So, uh, let's talk about teaming up to play, and that's my term for let's do some activities at the holidays. Let's play a card game. Let's pull out the iPad. Let's get a board game out. The greatest way to include someone with aphasia in some of these activities is to team up two people per team so that the person with aphasia has a buddy that can, uh, supplement and support and help that person to feel included.


ALLOW YOUR PERSON TO STRUGGLE A BIT TO MAKE PROGRESS

Also, another note to spouses, you absolutely want your person to succeed. I highly encourage you to let your persona struggle a little bit. There's nothing wrong with a little bit of struggle. You saving him or her every time that there is difficulty expressing a message, getting a word out, whatever the case may be, you're not allowing them to dig deep and figure out how to communicate.


MORE HOLIDAY ACTIVITY IDEAS

Sometimes having that struggle brings the best progress. So, uh, let's just do a couple more holiday activity ideas. So reminiscing. Pull out some photo books. Even if you've done them before, pull them out. Share stories. Reminisce. Watching old family movies is always a hit at my house. That is a great way to include your person, again, to share stories and interact.

Card games like Uno, goldfish, memory board games like Shoots and Ladders, Monopoly, and Sorry! iPhone app. There's a fun one called Heads Up, and if you do it as a team, it can be very interactive. For those of you with an Apple tv, you can mirror your iPad or your laptop on the big TV, and you can play some games there like Stack the States, Word Chums, or WordCrossed.

Lastly, I want to conclude by saying I wish you a wonderful holiday and a blessed season this year, 2022, going into 2023.

I hope you find some of these tips useful for your person with aphasia, and if you have any questions or tips to share, I would be honored if you would reach out to me.

My email is, [email protected]. Life Speech Pathology on Instagram, on Facebook. You can call the office. Everything is included in this PDF that I will link to in the notes. Have a beautiful season.

Be sure to check out the show notes and download your copy of talking Turkey. Aphasia inclusion at the holidays. It is full of tips and tricks. And ways to set up the holiday environment for successful communication with your person with aphasia.

Thanks for tuning in to the Listen for Life podcast. We hope you feel empowered and supported. Head over to Listen for life podcast.com to see the show notes with links and information from today's episode. Do you have a topic, a resource to share, or a guest recommendation for inquiring minds? Want to know?

Let us know in the comments section. Wishing you a fabulous week.

Categories: aphasia, HOLIDAYS