If a loved one has had a stroke, you may be feeling lost, alone, confused, or scared. Learn about how to help your loved ones recover, so you’ll feel empowered and strong. There are many things you can do to make stroke recovery smooth and successful for the ones you care about.
Stroke patients will often feel overwhelmed and frustrated. Be sensitive to these spikes and drops on the emotional roller coaster. Try to be encouraging and positive at all times. As caregiver, you will need to be firm to ensure the stroke patient is sticking to the recovery plan, but do so with sensitivity and compassion. Stroke patients are prone to feelings of depression, poor judgment, and low self-esteem. Be a cheering section for your loved one. Provide encouragement without being patronizing. Take the concerns of your stroke patient seriously and talk about them together.
Modifying the home
Stoke patients may have lost feeling in half of their body and then forget to attend to that side during daily life. You can make simple adjustments to remind patients to wash, shave, and care for their weaker side. Leave little notes or set up grooming supplies in a way that will remind them. Narrow bathrooms, hallways, and stairwells may cause problems for stroke patients when they return home. Provide grab bars in showers and hallways. Move all the patient’s bedroom items to the ground floor so there is no need for the patient to go up and down stairs. Electric devices in the kitchen and bathroom can also help make daily tasks easier.
Daily living activities
Allow the stroke patient to be in control of as many choices as possible. With limited mobility and control, a stroke patient needs to feel that he or she can still make some decisions such as when to do certain tasks, instead of being told.
Exercise and rehabilitation
Stroke patients will need to complete rehabilitation exercise each day. There are outpatient programs at the hospital, through physical therapy offices, or even those that come into your home to work with the stroke patient. The exercises can be stressful and challenging, so keep up positive motivation. Try to schedule exercise when the patient is feeling his or her best. Most stroke patients will have a certain time of day when they feel strongest.
Stroke patients are likely to have communication problems due to aphasia (loss of brain function) or physical weakness of facial muscles. Be patient and positive when communicating. Encourage the patient to express him or herself as much as possible. Stoke patients may experience loss of bladder or bowel control. Explain that it’s nothing to be embarrassed about and provide reassurance. Consult with a doctor if those issues occur.
If your loved one has lost his or her appetite after a stroke, make sure to monitor food intake. Patients can often be tempted to eat softer foods or food with strong flavors that may overcome a decreased sensitivity to taste or smell. Help your stroke patient plan the menu then prepare it together. The strain of shopping and cooking can lead to stroke patients skipping meals. Stroke patients need all their strength, so work together or contact a local meal delivery program in your area.
Medication and pain management
Stroke patients do not always feel pain accurately. Keep a careful watch for any injury to the body that the patient might not notice including broken bones after a fall or bedsores. Encourage daily movement even if the patient is in pain. You don’t want muscles to freeze up and become stiff and unusable. Encourage patients to work through the pain.
Regional Medical Center has a Stroke Care center that will help you every step of the way from diagnosis and treatment prevention and support. Call our Consult-A-Nurse® service today for information on how you can help your loved one get back to living life.