Edward’s Brain Injury
Edward is a patient at Morningstar Long-Term Care Facility. Most of the residents at the facility are elderly, but Edward is only 48. Edward lives at the facility because he cannot care for himself at home. He has a brain injury as a result of a car accident.
The injury did not affect his intelligence, but it affected his ability to communicate, causing a disorder called aphasia. The injury affected his ability to communicate with others by speaking and writing (expressive aphasia) and his ability to understand others when they are trying to communicate with him (receptive aphasia). Edward feels like he is in a foreign country because he cannot remember the correct words to say in English to express himself. He feels lost and becomes frustrated when he cannot communicate with the people around him. Sometimes he scrambles the words in his sentences. Other times, he uses the wrong words, and people don’t understand what he is trying to say. Edward often asks the same questions over and over. Sometimes he looks through his drawer in search of something he had in the past or for something he lost.
The staff cannot get angry when the patients repeat questions. Staff members label all of the patients’ belongings so that items do not get lost easily. When family members come to visit patients with aphasia, staff members try to help nudge the patients into remembering who is visiting. They say, “Your brother Dirk and his wife Trisha are here to see you, Edward.” This helps Edward remember without making him feel ashamed if he didn’t remember them right away. The staff also uses simple sentences and hand gestures to communicate with Edward, and he can nod or shake his head to answer.
The nursing staff tries to be patient and calm with patients like Edward who have aphasia.