For those with the devastating condition known as aphasia, the laughter and the social activity the Adler Aphasia Center provides is, quite literally, a life-changer.
“Adler Center, remarkable,” said patient Edward Morgan
“This changed our whole lives. One of the most wonderful things that happened in the beginning is my husband always felt so bad because Ed didn’t call us anything. And then one day he said ‘dad’ and that just changed our whole world,” said Rosemary Morgan, Edward’s mother.
Edward Morgan suffered a stroke at 33 while running a race. It turns out the stroke caused Aphasia, a condition that robs people of their ability to communicate.
“It affects all aspects of languages. It’s not just speaking; it’s reading, it’s writing and it can affect comprehension. But the frustration for people with aphasia is that it does not affect your intellect,” said Adler Aphasia Center President and CEO Karen Tucker.
Aphasia may affect 80,000 New Jerseyans and 2 million people nationwide. Stroke is the number one cause, followed by brain tumors and traumatic injury. The Centers for Disease Control says the incidents of stroke in people under age 50 is increasing, meaning Aphasia is too, along with the people needed to care for them.
Caregivers say one of the biggest challenges they face is first to find out what aphasia is, and then where to go and get help. Centers like the Adler Aphasia Center are just as important for the caregivers as they are for survivors of stroke.
Becky Parker was all-consumed in taking care of her firefighter husband when he suffered a stroke.
“After a couple of years, all of a sudden when we came here, its like, oh my god, and I started taking care of myself,” she said.
“Aphasia is not a well-known word, so obviously speaking to the community about it and getting the word out is part of our challenge,” said Tucker.
The center was founded by Elaine and Michael Adler when he suffered aphasia. As successful business people, the Adler’s were frustrated at the lack of help there was and set out to build a center to offer it.
“The public really doesn’t know it; they know everything else. They know Alzheimers, and I could go on and on, but not realizing that there is help for someone in need. And it’s not just that one person, it’s the whole family,” said founder Elaine Adler.
In May 2017, the center says New Jersey became the first state to recognize aphasia and set aside resources for it.
The Adler Center is one of just a handful in the nation. Those there say the first step in getting more help is getting the word out about the devastating condition.