Working Memory Activities for Aphasia
Working Memory Activities for Aphasia
Verbal information when we communicate with one another is stored in the form of working memory. It is a temporary storage area with limited capacity. Using our working memory, we can manipulate the information that we see or hear so that we understand the tasks. It also helps us in learning and reasoning.
After a stroke, traumatic brain injury, often, individuals with Aphasia may not be able to use the working memory skills as much as they could before. Research shows that regular practice can increase working memory capacity. Here are some activities that can help with working memory in individuals with Aphasia.
The Grocery list
Help your loved one with Aphasia to make a small shopping list. For example, you need milk, butter, eggs, etc. When you go shopping, make your list and also your loved one’s list. Start off simple like giving only 3 items like bananas, sugar & milk. You can get the remaining items. You can give the list in written or just by saying it to them. Give the list at the entrance of the grocery store. Ask them to get these things from the grocery. Initially let them memorize these small lists. Later on, you can add more items to the list as they get better at it. You can keep adding more information later like 6 bananas, half a kilo of sugar, one loaf of bread, etc.
You can help your loved one with calculations. For example, if you are going to the market and you buy few apples that cost 200 rupees. If you were to hand over a 500 rupee note, ask your loved one, how much would you expect back in return? Always remember to start off with simple activities. Start off with only one item. Then you can add more items like apples & oranges etc.
The Tray game
In this game, you can have a family member place random things on a tray & show them to the loved one. Give them a minute to see all the items on the tray. Then keep the tray aside or cover it with a cloth. Ask your loved one to recall all the items on the tray or as many as possible. Everyone in the family can take turns doing this game as it is very fun. Make sure to keep changing the items in the tray for every round so that you are actually trying to store them in the memory & recall.
Sudoku is a family favourite activity loved by one and all. People young & old enjoy playing this game. You can start with the simple Sudoku games wherein you have to add just 2-3 numbers in each row or column. Later on keep, as your loved one keeps doing them well, keep increasing the complexity. You may also help them complete the Sudoku. Nowadays various apps are available as well that give clues when you get stuck. So you can make use of them as well.
Watching or listening to stories & summarizing them
You can introduce small stories to your loved one. It can even be a short film. Show them the items and ask them to summarise them at the end of the activity. Now, many times they may find this activity a bit difficult, considering the aphasia as well. What you can do is pause the video in between & ask them questions about it. If you are reading then, take a pause after every sentence and ask questions.
When you are in the kitchen, you can ask your loved one to help you by giving them simple instructions like “Pour the oil in the pan”. You start off by using these instructions & keeping them as simple and doable as possible. Then go to the next instruction, one at a time till you complete the activity. Next, probably the next day, you can give two instructions like “Keep the pan on the stove and add oil to it”. You can increase your instructions depending on how they achieve the previous instruction.
Find a hobby
If your loved one has a hobby, you can use it to improve working memory skills. For example, if it is gardening. You can help them by giving simple instructions like “Let’s get the garden tools”. Then, you could give step-by-step instructions on how to grow new plants. Give a little complex instruction as the days go by & they improve on their working memory skills. Enjoy your time together!