A common symptom for senior stroke survivors is difficulty with communication, also known as aphasia. Over time, the ability to communicate may increase as the brain rewires itself and restores nerve connections. In the meantime, there are several devices your senior loved one can use to express him or herself and enhance his or her communication skills. Here are six great tools that can help your parent communicate.
1. Communication Boards
During the early stages of stroke recovery, it may be easier for your loved one to use a communication board. These boards contain common symbols or images. All your loved one has to do is point to the item that represents what he or she wishes to express. Some boards also have “yes” and “no” blocks that can be used to answer simple questions requiring one of these two responses.
2. Handheld Chalkboards and Whiteboards
Some senior stroke survivors are still able to write fairly well. If this applies to your loved one, he or she may be able to communicate with a handheld chalkboard or whiteboard. A string can be used to attach chalk and an eraser to a chalkboard to minimize difficulties with dexterity. With a whiteboard, include a set of erasable markers to make it easier to use.
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3. Wireless/Wearable Microphones
Senior stroke survivors sometimes have a difficult time projecting their voices due to changes in vocal quality or tone caused by the way their brains have been affected. One way to increase the ability to be heard and understood when speaking is with a wireless or wearable microphone. The volume level can be adjusted based on your loved one’s surroundings (e.g., higher in crowded areas and lower in quieter places).
4. Talking Mats
Talking mats contain pictures representing different needs, functions, and expressions, and the mats can be attached and rearranged on a specially designed board. There are also digital versions of talking mats that can be used on a tablet or laptop computer. What’s good about the digital version of a talking mat is the ability to customize phrases and words or include photos of family members or items your loved one uses on a regular basis.
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5. Communication Apps
Communication apps can turn any mobile device into a therapeutic tool. The purpose of such apps is to help seniors regain communication skills at a pace that’s comfortable for them. Containing more than 100,000 cognitive exercises, the CT Speech and Cognitive Therapy App is one of the top-rated speech therapy apps specifically designed for stroke survivors. Similar apps that can be downloaded and used on your loved one’s preferred device include:
• Tactus Therapy
• Brain training apps such as Elevate and Lumosity
6. Text-to-Speech (TTS) Apps
TTS apps allow your loved one’s preferred device to be used as a convenient tool for expressing his or her feelings, wants, and needs. Some text-to-speech apps simply translate whatever is typed into the device. If your loved one has difficulty typing, there are TTS apps with touchable symbols that represent common words, requests, expressions, questions, and phrases. Other text-to-speech apps store customized messages or phrases.
These devices can stimulate cognition and make communication easier for senior stroke survivors, and so can having a trained caregiver close by. Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality senior care. Trust Home Care Assistance to help your elderly loved one age in place safely and comfortably. If your loved one needs assistance with the challenges of aging, reach out to one of our knowledgeable, compassionate Care Managers today at (407) 232-7155.