Helping My Mam

Hi, my Mam has recently suffered a stroke and I'm looking to try and understand what she's going through and how I can help her without putting any additional stress on her. I know everyone's different but at the moment I'm interested in anything which may help her.

At the moment she's aphasic; would anyone be able to describe what that was like for them please, if they can, and what their relatives did which reached them/gave them the most comfort?

At the moment we're taking her hand, talking to her and have looked at some old photos.

I did read that Survivors often aren't aware of their other side, which I saw with a photo album; I was wondering if I put the photos on the opposite side, upside down and turned the book so that the right and left sides swapped, if this would let her see the photos but also subtly make her aware of the other side?

By the same token, when I take her hand I was wondering if I took both of hers that may help her?

I've also ordered some 'home-scented' essential oils which I'm intending to infuse onto handherchiefs, which I think she may enjoy, though she's not been able to communicate sufficiently for us to know if her sense of smell has been impacted; would anyone have tried this please?

Any thoughts/ideas appreciated : )



Hi, personally Im not sure about the essential oils. I can only give you my own personal experience,in that its is also internal muscles that are affected (not just arms/legs that are obvious to see). Bladder/bowel control affected me, but also I was unable to fill my lungs with clean air and struggled to breath if there were any strong smells around like air fresheners, scented candles etc. Im still unable to walk through the boots perfume area and even fish and chip shops with the burning oil. However, if your mum would enjoy the smells and it doesnt affect here breathing then that wouldbe fine, we are all different. Best wishes,you are obviously trying as hard as you can to make life as bearable as possible.

Hi Ross. So sorry about your Mam. I have not experienced aphasia, but do remember being ‘out of it’ for the first couple of months post stroke. I found visitors tiring and conversations difficult to follow. I liked hand holding, but tend to agree with Huntspete about smells. Mam needs to call on her reserves of willpower now and be convinced that she can recover. Part of her will be quite fearful, as stroke is usually unexpected and quite life threatening. Try to talk to her about positive things, but appreciate she may also be very fatigued for a while. Do read as much as you can on this web site. Survivors tend to look better than they feel. I am two years post stroke and still improving slowly.

Hi Pete, thanks very much for your reply, I really do appreciate it and any feedback which will help me understand what my Mam is going through.

I will give this some more thought over night as I'd not intended anything strong or air-diffused but of course what may seem fine to me might be unpleasant for her.

I must admit I do find Boots to be quite trying myself!

All the best,


Hi John, thanks for your reply, it's really appreciated.

What we've done for the past two days is go through some old photos and today it really seemed like she was straining to talk which the therapist has said she wasn't doing in sessions but after a certain point I popped the Piano App on my tablet on for a moment or two to try and redirect her a bit as well as offer her an alternate form of expression (I got a talking-board one as well, but I think both are further down the line).

I've been talking about slow and steady progress and I'm not quite sure if she's following what's being said or following facial cues.

I suppose the main thing though is that she feels loved and supported, exactly as you suggest and regardless of the delivery method!

Best of luck with your continued recovery.


Hi Ross - So sorry to hear about your Mum. Regarding the oils, did your Mum like the smell of oils prior to her stroke?  

Personally, I love lavender and put a few drops of lavender oil on my pillow every night as it helps me sleep. I also occasionally use "This Works" sleep spray which is a spray of blended oils that make you nod off pretty quick too. Sadly, it's too expensive to spray every night though! I used to enjoy, prior to my stroke,  aromatherapy massage with oils which is very relaxing. However, a lot of essential oils are very potent and from what I've read, some can be dangerous if you have certain health conditions. I've had to stop having the massages because my salon says certain oils can cause blood clots if you've had a stroke so they won't agree to do them for me anymore.

Having said that, I can't stand oils burning in the house or incense sticks because they make me cough and get on my chest. I'm the same with air fresheners and perfume too. How about baking her favourite cake? I love the smell of home baking!

Hi OnwardwardsandUpwards, thanks for your reply and sorry not to come back sooner.

I popped two drops of 'baby powder' scent onto the tag of a little teddy bear I brought in for her so it was there but not pervasive at all; I don't think she picked upon it at all actually but the other reason I brought the bear in was so she could have something in her hand and to hold onto at night which has helped comfort her I think, at least a little bit.

I'm afraid she's nil by mouth at the moment but a cake is definitely a home smell I'd like to bring in - the set I got had baby powder and linen scents but a cake may be a much better option as soons as practicable.


Thanks again,