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Better Hearing and Speech Month: A Focus on Aphasia

By May 19, 2014Archives

The month of May is Hearing and Speech Month, providing citizens around the nation with a great reason to learn about language difficulties. Since seniors are the highest demographic for both hearing and speech difficulties, caregivers should understand some key information.


For seniors who’ve had strokes, speech communication and recognition can be extremely difficult. The clinical term for this condition is aphasia. Senior caregivers must be on high alert for signs of aphasia in the weeks and months after an older adult suffers a stroke.

Aphasia is also a condition that comes in many varieties. A few of the most common speech forms are:

  • Global aphasia: presents difficulties with all language functions
  • Expressive aphasia: seniors are unable to express thoughts at all
  • Conduction aphasia: caregivers will notice a senior’s speech seems fairly normal, but he or she can’t repeat what anyone else has said

Anomic aphasia: seniors run into difficulty when trying to name persons, places and things
Common language difficulties with aphasia are:

  • Dysarthria: seniors find it difficult or impossible to speak
  • Speech apraxia: seniors with this condition are unable to process the brain’s messages as they relate to speech
  • Writing Impairment: seniors experience difficulty reading and writing

Helping the Communication Along
For senior caregivers whose loved ones suffer from language problems, communication skills are a must. Here’s how you can help make conversation easier and progressive:

  • Make an appointment with a speech therapist. Using advanced communication strategies, seniors can learn new language skills.
  • Don’t talk down to a senior with language barriers. Speak in a normal tone, always face the senior when talking and never use slang to communicate.
  • Make communication visual. Since seniors process information much better via the sense of sight, caregivers should use gestures when speaking.
  • Patience is key during this process. Senior loved ones will likely get frustrated at some point in the learning process. It’s the senior caregiver’s job to diffuse the situation, usher in a sense of calm and offer encouragement.

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