Keeping your old friends: Client centered recommendations for maintaining friendships after aphasia

Keeping your old friends: Client centered recommendations for maintaining friendships after aphasia

Trustees were particularly pleased to be able to support this funding request from 2 previous Robin Tavistock Award recipients and 4 Distinguished Scholar recipients.

People living with aphasia tell us that their communication difficulties often make it difficult to maintain connections with friends. Some describe attempts by existing friends to connect for the first weeks after their stroke happens, but over time friendships tend to dissolve leaving those living with aphasia feeling isolated and lonely. Even when friends remain connected, the quality of the relationship may suffer.

Even though people and families living aphasia experience the devastating consequences of friendship loss, services provided to people with aphasia rarely focus on friendships. The Friendship in Aphasia Research Group believes that it is possible for people with aphasia to remain connected to a wide and supportive circle of friends.  Our long-term goal is to develop ideas and resources that people with aphasia and their friends can use to maintain their relationships.

Before we come up with ideas and programs for maintaining friendship, we need to understand the experiences of people with aphasia, friends, and family members in the time period directly after their stroke. So, using the funding kindly provided to us by the Tavistock Trust for Aphasia, we plan to interview about 50 people with aphasia, their spouses and friends. Our interviews and analysis will focus on the friendship experiences in the days, weeks and months after a stroke. We will ask people with aphasia, their families and friends about the things that helped their friendships survive and about other kinds of support they think would be useful. Our results will provide insight into social needs during the early stages of aphasia recovery and will form the foundation of future studies investigating the benefits of friendship maintenance programs.