Aphasia in Later Life

Linda E. Worrall, Tanya A. Rose, Caitlin Brandenburg, Alexia Rohde, Karianne Berg, Sarah J. Wallace

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionaryResearchpeer-review


“Aphasia is an acquired selective impairment of language modalities and functions resulting from a focal brain lesion in the language-dominant hemisphere that affects the person’s communicative and social functioning, quality of life, and the quality of life of his or her relatives and caregivers” (Papathanasiou et al. 2013). This definition incorporates the main components of commonly accepted definitions of aphasia. Aphasia is an acquired disorder, not a developmental disorder. It is selective to the language pathways of the brain. Aphasia results when there is damage to the language-dominant hemisphere, usually the left hemisphere, and the most common cause of aphasia is stroke. Focal lesions that cause aphasia may also include brain tumor and head trauma, such as gunshot wounds. However, as Papathanasiou and colleagues (Papathanasiou et al. 2013) point out, the language difficulties sustained after a head injury may be intrinsically bound to cognitive difficulties. This is also the case in more generalized language deficits that occur in dementias. To distinguish aphasia from other language impairments, Code (1989) highlights that aphasia can be described as impacting on core linguistic components including lexical semantics, syntax, morphology, and phonology. Put simply, aphasia is a problem with talking, understanding, reading, and/or writing. The provided definition also extends beyond the person with aphasia to describe the impact of aphasia on those around them.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Geropsychology
EditorsNancy A. Pachana
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)978-981-287-080-3
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Apr 2016


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