Aphasia caregivers: You Don’t Have to be the Therapist

Caregivers can sometimes get upset because they want to help their spouses with speech therapy, but their loved one with aphasia does not want them to do this. Of the many roles you may now have, your loved one has chosen: spouse! Be glad, I will tell them. I know you want to help, but it is a two-way street, each participant must be willing to let that other person have more than one role. If one participant is not 100% willing, then so be it! Only the client can decide if he/she wants to get better and who will help with that. Believe me, it’s much harder for me to work as a therapist with a family member than with a client.

You don’t need to carry all of the burden–there are people out there, such as myself, who have gone to school for a long time to do this. We aren’t related to you, we have no personal history or previous roles with you, and our role is therapist, period. I’m more than happy to teach the caregiver to become the therapist if that’s what both persons desire, but I won’t put more burden on either one of you if you don’t choose it. After all the daily chores, after you’ve been the physical therapist and parent, should I assume that you also want to be the primary speech therapist?  You have the right to say, “No, I don’t want to do this”.

By letting someone push you into this position , you are adding stress to an already stressful situation. So you will either say you’ll do it but won’t, or you’ll do it but resent it, or perhaps you’ll be happy to do it. There are several possible scenarios. Yes, it’s better if there is someone else who will help so that progress can be made faster–does it have to be you? No. Can your children, students, neighbors, church, or other volunteers help out in this area? You still have a life, don’t let guilt make you miserable–the world’s fate does not hang on your shoulders. Skipping exercises due to real life a few times a week doesn’t kill anyone. It doesn’t affect the therapy progress in small doses.

You don’t have to do it all. Life becomes all about the person with aphasia, so take some time for yourself. I know it’s easy to say and hard to do. One of the things caregivers love about our intensive program is that they get to have several hours a day to themselves. You get to still learn about aphasia and how to communicate better with your loved one, but you also get precious me time. The waterfront condo isn’t such a bad deal, either.

 

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