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Loss of Intimacy

A Cost of Caregiving in Aphasia

Stead, Amanda; White, John

doi: 10.1097/TLD.0000000000000175
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The sudden loss of intimacy can have a dramatic effect on satisfaction in a relationship. As many caregivers shift roles and try to personally adjust to their new reality, a steep drop in intimacy can often simultaneously occurs. Aphasia presents a significant barrier to opening discussions about intimacy and sexual contact. The purpose of this article is to discuss the current literature regarding intimacy in aphasia and present solutions for addressing this complex issue. One of the simplest solutions to addressing this gap in care is having rehabilitation professionals introduce these topics early in the rehabilitation process. This is optimally achieved through interdisciplinary training in the use of effective supported communication strategies for persons with aphasia. Another solution is to create community-centered events that allow couples to address issues related to intimacy after rehabilitation ends. This article describes one such program, an Aphasia Couples Retreat, ran as a collaboration between a local nonprofit and university program in the Pacific Northwest. The retreat provides couples with the opportunity to discuss and address issues related to intimacy, learn new skills, and gain support from an interdisciplinary team of students, speech–language pathologists, occupational therapists, and psychologists.

School of Communication Sciences and Disorders (Dr Stead) and School of Occupational Therapy (Dr White), Pacific University, Forest Grove, Oregon.

Corresponding Author: Amanda Stead, PhD, CCC-SLP, School of Communication Science and Disorders, Pacific University, 2043 College Way, #A130, Forest Grove, OR 97116 (Amanda.stead@pacificu.edu).

The retreat experience described in this article is coordinated by The Aphasia Network, a 501(c)(3) serving people with aphasia and their families in the Pacific Northwest.

Amanda Stead has a non-financial relationship as she is a member of the Aphasia Network 501c3 Board. The other author has indicated that he has no financial and no nonfinancial relationships to disclose.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (www.topicsinlanguagedisorders.com).

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