5 Aphasia Activities for Senior Care

5 Aphasia Activities for Senior Care

Found In: Activities Articles

Aphasia is a communication disorder that results from damage or injury to the brain. A person with aphasia may have trouble understanding, speaking, reading, or writing.
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Aphasia is a communication disorder that results from damage or injury to the brain. A person with aphasia may have trouble understanding, speaking, reading, or writing.

Aphasia can be caused by strokes, head trauma, tumors and other neurological conditions such as dementia. Research shows that between 25% - 40% of people who survive a stroke acquire aphasia.

People affected by aphasia should commence Speech Therapy as soon as possible.

What is Aphasia?

Aphasia is not a disease, but rather a symptom of brain damage. It is characterized by a gradual loss in speech and language functioning while other cognitive domains remain mostly preserved, such as memory and personality.

Aphasia disrupts relationships and everyday living making it a very frustrating and isolating disorder. Recovery is invariably slow; the brain needs time to form new networks and heal. Persistence, therapy, and loving understanding is needed for improvement.

Types of Aphasia

  • Fluent
  • Non-Fluent
  • Anomic Aphasia
  • Global Aphasia
  • Primary progressive Aphasia

Receptive Aphasia - The ability to grasp the meaning of spoken words and sentences is impaired, while the ease of producing connected speech is not very affected. People may mix up words or make a sentence with a series of words that don't make sense.

Non-Fluent or Expressive Aphasia - Partial loss of the ability to produce language (spoken, manual, or written), although comprehension generally remains intact.

Anomic Aphasia - Mildest of the aphasias, with relatively preserved speech and comprehension but difficulty in word finding. People cannot express the words they want to say (particularly nouns and verbs).

Global Aphasia - Considered the most severe type of Aphasia. People have difficulty speaking and understanding and cannot read or write. They may be able to say and understand a few words at a time.

Primary Progressive Aphasia - Language capabilities become slowly and progressively impaired due to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's Disease. People with primary progressive aphasia eventually lose the ability to speak and write, and to understand written and spoken language. Communication at this stage will require the use of gestures, smiles and the observation of body language.

10 Communication Strategies for Activity Staff

Staff education on the various forms of Aphasia and relevant communication strategies is imperative. The goal for staff is to provide clients with a means by which to express themselves. Apart from patience and compassion, staff should:

  1. Remember that a lack of language does not equal a lack of intelligence.
  2. Look clients in the eyes when speaking to them; talk slowly and repeat important words.
  3. Avoid noises and other distractions during communication.
  4. Keep your voice at a normal volume.
  5. Encourage the person to write, draw or point out what they want to say.
  6. Identify the subject at hand first and then try to understand the message.
  7. Be patient and wait for your client's answer
  8. Remember that clients have the right to be frustrated, and decide whether to continue with a conversation / activity or leave it for later.
  9. Use verbal and written YES / NO questions.
  10. Be aware that elderly clients with Aphasia may have swallowing difficulties.

Aphasia Activity Ideas for Activity Coordinators

Activity Professionals may engage clients in a Life Participation Program while they adjust to their disability. The Life Participation approach refers to a general model of care delivery, rather than a specific clinical approach. Notwithstanding, seek advice from a speech/language pathologist if at all possible.

READ THE NEWSPAPER - Take the newspaper to the client and ask him to locate the sports page, or check the forecast for the day. Ask clients questions that require Yes/No answers, like:

  • Did Federer win the match last night?
  • Is it going to rain today?

LOOK AT PHOTO ALBUMS - This activity is suitable for clients with dementia as well as aphasia. Looking at photographs together may soothe the soul. Ask questions with Yes/No answers.

USE APHASIA CARDS - Cards can be bought from an Aphasia Association in your country or you can make your own. Attached to this article are 3 activities you can ue:

  • Category Fill-Ins
  • Category Cross-Out
  • Talking Cards

PLAY BOARD GAMES - Some clients may be able to play boardgames or word games. Suitable games could include Chess, Scrabble, Family Feud and Sentence Puzzles.

BRAIN EXERCISES - Brain exercises may help improve word-finding abilities.

  • Opposite (Antonyms) Exercises
  • Rhyming words
  • Collective nouns
  • Compound words
  • Preposition exercises
  • Virtual speech apps
  • Paper-based products

NOTE: The supplied sample activities for Aphasia should be provided one-on-one; provide assistance as required. Be aware that clients with Aphasia tire easily; observe body language and ask if they want to stop and continue at a later date.

Files included:

Download Image

Category Fill-in - Level Medium

Download Image

Talking Cards - True or False - Level Easy

Download Image

Cross-out Words - Level Easy

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Comments   Post a Comment

Mohammed 5th Jan 2020 Slp
thank you ,it is awesome
Christine 15th Mar 2018 activities worker
Thanks Margaret, this is soo true what you are saying, thanks for sharing your story.
Kind regards Christine
Solange 4th Mar 2018 Diversional Therapist
Hi, Margaret, how very thoughtful of you. Thanks for sharing. Best wishes.
Darla 4th Mar 2018 Recreation and Rehab Manager
Wonderful ideas,

Thank you for the research, the understanding to explain to other staff, and the examples to assist people in maintaining their abilities.

Solange 8th Mar 2018 Diversional Therapist
Thank you for your kind words Darla and Penny. Best wishes.
Penny 27th Feb 2018 Diversional Therapist
Thank you so much for this I have many resident that this will benefit from these activities.This is something that I can get my volunteer to do.
Talita 3rd Mar 2018
Thanks so much for your feedback Penny!
Margaret 27th Feb 2018 Student
My mother suffered MND (Motor Neurone Disease), She was a very independent woman and in her younger days was an airline hostess, nurse and in the army. Imagine what it was like when she lost her speech. I was her main carer from diagnosis to her passing and one of the most frustrating this for her was people yelling at her. When someone suffers speech loss, people tend to talk to them as though they are also deaf. My mother didn't lose any faculties, just her speech and the ability to swallow. I used pictures of everything I could find on google images, even her medications were there. She would just point at the pictures if she got tired of writing on her whiteboard that she carried with her. I ended up putting a sign on her mobility devices that stated " My name is June, I can hear you, I can understand you, I just can't speak to you... Please don't yell at me" ... it worked and would divert embarrassment to both parties. Just thought I would share.
Tania 8th Apr 2018 Social Support Officer
Hello, I am new here and quite excited about accessing your creative resources. It is fun taking the time to orientate myself around the site. The comment above is a very good reminder. Thanks for sharing :)
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