Better Connections. Communication help for caregivers and loved ones

Better Connections. Communication help for caregivers and loved ones

- in Aging Answers, June 2016

Did you know that in the U.S., there are more than 6 million stroke survivors and nearly 3.2 million Americans living with disabilities due to a traumatic brain injury (TBI)? The need for care is great, but becoming your loved one’s caregiver can be overwhelming. Caregivers may face daily struggles as they learn to acclimate to a new life that is filled with doctor visits and rehab appointments.

Communication is an important part of human relationships and when this is disrupted or lost due to a stroke, TBI or other neurological condition, it is difficult to meet the needs of the person who is being cared for. It also can leave you and your loved one feeling isolated.

A speech-language pathologist can provide strategies for specific communication needs to encourage more independent conversation skills. Some strategies include: slowing down your rate when speaking, writing down your questions, providing visual or verbal choices, and giving your communication partner more time to respond.

In some cases, your loved one may be unable to communicate at all; therefore, they may need the assistance of an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device. An AAC device may provide short- or long-term assistance in being able to enhance communication skills through electronic devices, picture books, switches and/or writing.

Researchers have found that therapy benefits don’t end after the first few months. Due to the neuroplasticity of the brain, with continuous therapy and practice, the brain can be rewired to relearn some of the skills that were lost.

Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center (CHSC) has developed a one-of-a-kind program for adults with communication disorders. Northeast Ohio Adults Communicating Together (NEO-ACT) was designed to provide individuals with communication difficulties and their caretakers an opportunity to improve quality of life through participation in activities that provide enrichment for listening, speaking, reading, writing and socialization.

CHSC offers individual and group speech therapy, Lee Silverman Voice Treatment and the Speak Easy Group. Programs cover a wide variety of interests, each with a beneficial therapy component, including: art class, book club, computer lab, music, pet therapy, tech time, writing workshop and more

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