What do we do now? Anxiety about the future with aphasia

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Since so many people have never heard of aphasia, it can be a bewildering and confusing diagnosis to receive. Your loved one has had a stroke or brain injury, and now there’s some communication issue called aphasia. You see that your loved one has changed overnight–he/she can no longer participate in work or other activities. Daily life as you know it has changed forever.

Many families will contact me when their loved one is still in the hospital doing rehab, wondering what their next step should be. There is a deadline to the rehab therapy, and now they’re struggling to find the next step. “is this going to go away?”, “how long will he be like this?”, “what is he supposed to do all day?” are some common questions. The panic of having to come up with your own answers, on-the-spot, without any clear path is stressful to say the least.

The short answer to all of this is something that no one wants to hear: there is no clearly defined path. When our clients leave our program, they have a specific, individual step-by-step plan to continue working at home. We can provide different options for after-program treatment and make suggestions about what to do next. The path that they take depends upon the client’s personality, where they live, what services they have access to, their financial situation, pre-stroke hobbies, and family support. Constant therapeutic activity is not for everyone.

As an aphasia therapist, I can’t live that life or situation for you and make it go away. I would if I could. My advice is to take a deep breath and realize that you have no control over the stroke or the course of the aphasia recovery. Is it going to get better? Yes. Is it going to get better right away? Maybe not. You will find your way to your new normal. The world will not fall apart in the twenty  minutes that you take to yourself. No one thinks well or creatively under so much pressure.

You don’t have to know everything right now, you will exhaust yourself trying to plan it all. Eat your elephant one bite at a time, breath, allow yourself time for you. No one can solve everything, so give yourself a break and realize that this is a marathon, not a sprint.

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