In Memoriam: Aphasia Pioneer and Maywood Center Founder Elaine Adler


Elaine Adler, co-founder and driving force behind the Adler Aphasia Center headquartered in Maywood, NJ, passed away on August 10, 2023, at her home in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida at the age of 95.

Elaine was a highly respected and tireless activist and philanthropist throughout NJ and beyond. She launched the Center, a low-cost, long term therapeutic care option for stroke and brain injury survivors who have aphasia, in Maywood NJ in 2003 with her husband Mike, who suffered a stroke and aphasia in 1993.

Aphasia is a communication disorder caused by a stroke or traumatic brain injury and affects 40% of these survivors. Adler Aphasia Center is the only center of its kind in NJ, an area with an estimated 70,000 people living with aphasia.

Since then, the Center has won numerous awards and has become a world leader in long-term aphasia rehabilitation and research, with two other full-service Centers in West Orange and Toms River, seven Aphasia Communication Groups located throughout NJ, and the Adler Aphasia Center at Hadassah Academic College in Jerusalem.

“Speak up for people who cannot speak for themselves” was her mantra. A member of the NJ State Aphasia Task Force and numerous advocacy groups, Elaine was a passionate and outspoken voice, always ready to speak articulately on behalf of people with aphasia. In 2017, two years after Mike’s passing, former NJ Governor Chris Christie signed into law the Mike Adler Aphasia Task Force, making NJ the first state in the country to enact legislation to increase the provision of support services to people with aphasia.

Elaine helped create Aphasia Access, an international consortium of aphasia professionals, and has served on numerous boards, the Jewish Home and Rehabilitation Center in Rockleigh, NJ; the Arnold Gold Foundation for Humanism in Medicine; and Bergen County’s Children’s Aid and Family Services. Elaine was also a founding board member of Gilda’s Club of northern NJ and the Center for Interreligious Understanding. In 2010, She and Mike donated $2 million to build the Adler Center for Nursing Excellence building at Ramapo College, providing a permanent home for their nursing school.

Adler Aphasia Center, a non-profit organization with three full-service facilities based in Maywood, West Orange and Toms River, NJ, addresses the long-term needs of people with aphasia and their families. The Center also offers bi-monthly Aphasia Communication Groups in Bridgewater, Haddonfield, Hammonton, Maywood, Monroe, Scotch Plains, Toms River and Virtual NJ Group.

The Center’s programs and activities are facilitated by speech-language pathologists who work towards enhancing the communication skills of its members and providing opportunities for social and peer support, while building members’ self-esteem and confidence. Caregiver needs are addressed through weekly caregiver support groups. Training and educational programs are offered to healthcare professionals, consumers, educators, students, speech-language pathologists and others interested in improving the quality of life for those affected by aphasia. The Center is also actively engaged in aphasia research efforts.

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