Using Communication Boards as Tools for Recovering Stroke Survivors

Statistics indicate up to 33 percent of stroke survivors experience communication problems following their strokes. Communication boards are one of the simplest tools seniors can use to interact with healthcare providers, family caregivers, and therapists. There are a number of ways to make implementing these aids easier for older adults and their network of caregivers.

Choose the Right Type of Board

Basic boards may display the alphabet and the numerals zero through nine to enable stroke survivors to spell words. Dry-erase boards are also useful for older adults who haven’t lost the ability to write. Some boards feature labeled pictures that merely require seniors to point to the appropriate images to express their needs. DIY communication boards can be crafted into books containing images representing a wide variety of topics. Using stickers for each page, seniors are then able to express their feelings, food and beverage choices, and personal care needs.

Provide Instruction

Family members cannot assume a loved one who experienced a stroke will automatically comprehend how to use a communication board. Along with losing the ability to speak, seniors may also experience damage to their language comprehension centers. Demonstrate the picture board to give your loved one an idea of how to communicate with others. Speak a simple statement and point to an image that portrays the spoken phrase. Perhaps say “I am happy to see you” while pointing to a smiley face. Work with your loved one until it becomes apparent he or she is capable of correctly using the board.

Experienced in-home caregivers can often offer tips for communicating with elderly stroke survivors. A wide range of age-related health conditions can make it more challenging for aging adults to live independently. However, many of these challenges can be easier to manage when their families choose professional home care. La Mesa families can trust our highly trained caregivers to keep their aging loved ones safe in the comfort of home.

Use Colors to Express Emotions

Images depicting emotions are commonly featured on communication boards. For stroke survivors to more clearly understand the different images, homemade boards might assign a specific color to each emotion. A sad face might be blue, while an angry face might be red. Green might indicate peaceful or positive, while yellow expresses happy. A board or page might also be dedicated to physical discomfort. A popular series of images features five different facial expressions labeled from one to five to indicate levels of pain or discomfort.

Include Emergency Contacts

Consider devoting a board or page to emergency contacts. Each contact should include a name, phone number, and relationship to the senior along with a picture that identifies each individual or entity.

Make the Board Accessible

Until your loved one regains the ability to speak, the communication board will serve as a vital tool for interacting with others. As such, the board must be close to your loved one at all times. Consider creating a board in book form with pages designated for different topics. This way, the tool is more portable, which makes the aid ideal for use both inside and outside the home. The more often your parent uses the board, the faster recovery can occur.

Having professional caregivers nearby can give senior stroke survivors and their families greater peace of mind. When their aging parents need hourly or 24-hour care, La Mesa families can trust the professionals from Coast Care Partners to help. Our caregivers can prepare nutritious meals, provide medication reminders, and assist seniors with exercise and mobility. Coast Care Partners will work with you to develop a customized care plan that’s suited to your loved one’s unique needs. For high-quality home care services, contact us at 619-354-2544.