Background: Carers of stroke survivors with aphasia are at risk of experiencing negative bio-psychosocial consequences and reduced quality of life. So far, in aphasia studies, this has mainly been explored through qualitative interviews and questionnaires. Unsolicited first-person narratives in the form of blogs offer a novel and rich source of data to examine how stroke and aphasia affect the carer and their relationship with the person with aphasia.
Aims: This study explored how carers of people with aphasia perceive their roles and responsibilities; it also examined the consequences of carrying out these carer roles and duties, in terms of both the carer’s own well-being and their relationship with the person with aphasia; furthermore, it investigated facilitative factors in their adaptation to the carer role.
Methods & Procedures: Publically available blogs written by carers of aphasic stroke survivors, which included information on how stroke and aphasia affect the carer and their relationship with the person with aphasia, were analysed using the Framework Method.
Outcomes & Results: The search resulted in nine carer blogs. The number of posts per blog ranged from 13 to 241. For blogs containing over 90 posts, the first and last 30 relevant posts were collected and analysed. New roles and extra responsibilities identified by participants included having to act as therapists, nurses, counsellors, and administrators and carrying out tasks usually assigned to the other person in the relationship. The extra tasks and duties impacted on the carers’ quality of life and their relationship with the person with aphasia in negative ways, such as leading to physical and mental exhaustion, health issues, feeling lonely, and resentful of their circumstances; however, participants also identified positive changes such as new closeness, new appreciation of life, and pride in achievements. A variety of strategies emerged from the data that helped carers adjust to their new roles. Strategies included positive reframing, allocating time to oneself, and seeking support from family and friends. The activity of blogging was also mentioned as having beneficial effects on the carers’ well-being.
Conclusions: The study provides further evidence for the specific challenges faced by carers of people with stroke and aphasia; it thus confirms the importance of addressing carer related needs in intervention and considering psychosocial well-being for both the carer and the person with aphasia.