World Stroke Day is commemorated on 29th October, to raise awareness for stroke and provide better support initiatives for stroke survivors. In Singapore, stroke is the leading cause of disability in adults and the fourth most common cause of death. As our national population ages, the prevalence of stroke will continue to increase. Therefore, we need to ensure the needs of stroke survivors are well-taken care of at all stages of their recovery.
Stroke survivors can receive round-the-clock care from healthcare professionals at the hospital. After they are discharged from the hospital, being taken care of round the clock may be a challenge. Family members will likely have to take turns to provide care, or engage a professional caregiver to provide home care. This article provides useful tips for anyone who is caring for a stroke survivor at home.
As stroke survivors may have impaired mobility, it is best to minimize the amount of movement they have to make while showering, and ensure the bathroom facility is safe. Caregivers of stroke survivors may consider installing the following facilities in the bathroom:
- Get a shower chair with arms and backrest, so that the patient can shower seated in a comfortable position. Better still, get a transfer bench so that they can safely move in and out of the shower.
- Install grab bars on all walls of the bathroom so that the patient can grip onto them and minimize the risk of falls.
- Install anti-slip tiles on the bathroom floor, and place a bathroom mat at the entrance of the bathroom, as well as near the bathtub to avoid slips and falls.
- Place racks containing toiletries within the patient's reach from the shower or bathtub. The patient should be able to grasp the toiletries when seated on the shower chair.
- Install a bell that is within reach from the patient, so that he may alert the caregiver in case of an emergency.
An episode of stroke may cause patients to lose control of their bowel movements. As such, they will be dependent on the help of caregivers to clean them up after they urinate or defecate. You may consider the following in taking care of the toileting needs of a stroke patient:
- Get the stroke patient to empty their bladders or bowels while seated on a commode, so that the patient feels more comfortable using the toilet, and you can easily clear the waste materials collected in the bucket. Either a mobile commode or a stationary commode can be used, depending on the needs of the patient.
- Stroke patients may be prescribed a catheter for short-term or long-term use, depending on their recovery status. The catheter has to be changed regularly to avoid urinary tract infections. If you need assistance in replacing the catheter, you can consider engaging a nurse from CaregiverAsia to perform this procedure.
- If the patient is completely immobile, purchase incontinence products for them. Common incontinence products include:
- Absorbent pads that store urine while keeping the patient's skin dry
- Incontinence panties or briefs that absorb urine and are washable and reusable
- Protective underpads that absorb moisture and prevent matteresses and furniture from getting stained by urine
- Plastic pants worn over underwear to protect against mild to moderate urine leaks
Some stroke survivors may suffer from dysphagia, a condition in which patients face difficulties with chewing and swallowing. For others, they may be unable to communicate about their dietary needs, or see what they are consuming. These collectively pose challenges in meeting their nutritional needs.
Nasogastric tube feeding is usually performed for stroke survivors suffering from dysphagia. Liquid food and medication can be delivered into the stomach of the patient to ensure they receive the nutrients they need. The process of inserting a nasogastric tube and administering food via a nasogastric tube has to be performed with caution, as complications like tissue injury and blockage or dislodgement of the tube may happen. To minimize the risks of complications, please adhere to the following:
- Wash the tube thoroughly with water after administering food or medication
- Clean the nasogastric tube daily using a cotton bud moistened with warm water
- Keep the patient in an elevated position one hour after administration of food or medicine
- Keep track of when the tube was inserted, and when it should be replaced
- Always monitor for leakage and blockage of the tube
- Make sure the tube is taped securely to the patient's face, and avoid pressing it tightly to the nose
- Clean all items used for nasogastric tube feeding and let them air dry
If you need assistance in nasogastric tube feeding, or if the nasogastric tube has dislodged, CGA's licensed nurses can help in feeding the patient or replacing the tube. You may contact our friendly Care Service Associates at www.caregiverasia.com or +65 6258 6683 to find out more.
For stroke survivors who can still consume solid foods, while they can meet their daily nutritional needs more easily, soft foods prepared for them may not be palatable. This is why Health Food Matters has produced Delisoft Meals that are easy to prepare, easy to consume and appetizing for the consumers! From 29th October to 29th November 2020, enjoy 10% discount off Delisoft Meals when you key in the promo code <WSD10> at healthfoodmatters.com.sg.
Stroke survivors take months to years to recover from their condition, depending on the severity of the stroke attack. Professional therapy performed by licensed therapists can speed up the recovery process. Stroke survivors can go through the following therapies to function better in their daily lives.
- Speech therapy helps stroke survivors who have difficulties in speaking and swallowing
- Occupational therapy helps stroke survivors perform better in daily activities, such as eating, bathing and dressing
- Physiotherapy helps stroke survivors relearn motor skills that were lost due to stroke
CaregiverAsia offers professional therapy services, and our licensed therapists can travel to your house to provide service. Visit our website to view the profiles of our caregivers and make a booking.
An episode of stroke may affect parts of the brain that control emotions. Therefore, stroke survivors may feel angry, anxious, irritated or depressed. These emotions can be overwhelming. Besides, caregivers taking care of stroke survivors may be at a loss due to the additional responsibilities they have to undertake. Should you or your loved ones require support, reach out to Singapore National Stroke Association to join their support groups.
With proper care and support by family members and healthcare professionals, stroke survivors will very likely have greater chances of recovery. Family members of stroke survivors should work closely with healthcare professionals to ensure all their needs are well-taken care of. An episode of stroke should not be a deterrent to leading a meaningful life.
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