Family Adjustment to Aphasia

By 9  am On

Richard S. was a senior manager at a small company and next in line for a vice presidency. His wife worked as a free-lance writer. They had three active teenagers. Life had its ups and downs, but overall it was quite comfortable-happy marriage, nice home, occasional travel, and a close circle of friends.

One night that all changed. Richard had a massive stroke that left him with a paralyzed right arm and leg. He also had aphasia. He could not speak intelligibly, and he understood little of what people said to him. He had difficulty reading and writing. He also had trouble swallowing. When his children visited him in the hospital, he couldn’t follow their activities and busy schedules. He felt so removed from them.

Worries. Sara was worried about Richard’s health, but she had other worries, too. How would the mortgage be paid? Would she be able to work, raise the children, and assume her husband’s household responsibilities? Who would she rely on? Richard always gave her good support and advice, but he couldn’t now. What about the physical intimacy they enjoyed? Sara felt she was being selfish, but she also felt overwhelmed, alone, and angry that this had happened to her. She even blamed Richard-if only he had watched his diet and exercised more!