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Supporting Someone After Stroke

[fa icon="calendar"] May 19, 2020 10:00:00 AM / by Calvin Leong

Supporting Someone After Stroke

Caregivers provide essential physical and emotional support to people who have had a stroke. If you are supporting someone who suffered a stroke, you play an important role in coordinating schedules, helping your loved one to communicate, and helping with the overall rehabilitation plan.

What Do I Need To Know About My Loved One's Recovery?

Recovering from a stroke can take weeks, months, or years. Some people may be able to return to a normal lifestyle, and other people may have permanent problems with movement (mobility), thinking, behaviour, or communication. Understanding your loved one's condition can help you manage the role of a caregiver. Your loved one's health care team may rely on you to provide information such as medical history and current medicines.

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How Can I Support My Friend Or Family Member?

Planning For Discharge From The Hospital

Ask to meet with a stroke care coordinator, if one is available. This person can help you to plan for discharge. Before you leave the hospital, make sure you understand:

  • The recovery process after a stroke.
  • Physical, emotional, behavioral, and other changes that may affect your loved one after a stroke.
  • The treatments for stroke, including the medicines that your loved one has to take.
  • How to lower the risk of another stroke.
  • Diet and exercise changes for your loved one.
  • Whether you will need extra help at home.
  • Whether your loved one will need help using the bathroom, bathing, eating, or doing other activities.
  • Changes you have to make at home to make it safe for your loved one.
  • Whether you need to get special devices or equipment for your loved one.

General Help

  • Help your loved one establish a daily routine. This may include setting reminders or having a shared day planner or calendar.
  • Encourage rest. Your loved one may need frequent breaks during social situations or other activities.
  • Be patient. Your loved one may take longer to complete tasks and to process information.
  • When giving instructions, give only one instruction at a time or give step-by-step lists. Multitasking can be difficult after a stroke.
  • Offer assistance with household chores or other daily tasks. Make "freezer meals" that can be reheated.
  • Do not set expectations about your loved one's recovery.

Medical Visits

  • Gently remind your loved one of tasks and medical visits if he or she is forgetful.
  • Provide transportation to and from appointments.
  • Attend rehabilitation appointments with your loved one. By being involved in the rehabilitation plan, you can encourage your loved one and help with exercises and therapy activities at home.

Preventing Falls

Follow instructions to prevent falls in your loved one's home. These may include:

  • installing grab bars in bathrooms and handrails in stairways.
  • using night-lights in the bedroom, bathroom, or hallways.
  • removing rugs and mats or making them stick to the floor.
  • keeping walkways clear by removing cords and clutter from the floor.

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How Should I Care For Myself?

Helping a loved one recover from a stroke can be rewarding, and it can also be challenging and stressful at times. Make sure to care for your own well-being during this time.

Your Lifestyle

  • Try to get 7–9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.
  • Eat a balanced diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy.
  • Exercise for 30 or more minutes on 5 or more days each week.
  • Find ways to manage stress. These may include deep breathing, yoga, or meditation. Spending time outdoors and writing journals also helps in stress reduction.

Finding Support

  • Ask for help. Take a break if you are the primary caregiver to your loved one.
  • Spend time with supportive people.
  • Join a support group with other caregivers or family members of people who have had a stroke.
  • If you experience new or worsening depression or anxiety, seek counselling from a mental health professional.

Patient has a breakthrough in group therapy and everyone is clapping her

Summary

  • Caregivers provide essential physical and emotional support to people who have had a stroke.
  • Before you leave the hospital, make sure you understand how to care for someone who has had a stroke.
  • It is normal to have many different emotions while caring for someone who has had a stroke. Make sure to care for your own well-being during this time.

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

References:

Barrett et al., 2013. Barrett A.M., Oh-Park M., Chen P., et al: Neurorehabilitation: Five new things. Neurol Clin Pract 2013; 3: pp. 484

Cramer SC, Dodakian L, Le V, et al: Efficacy of home-based telerehabilitation vs in-clinic therapy for adults after stroke: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Neurol 2019; 76L: pp. 1079-1087

Edwards, Kapral, Fang, Swartz, 2017. Edwards JD, Kapral MK, Fang J, and Swartz RH: Long-term morbidity and mortality in patients without early complications after stroke or transient ischemic attack. CMAJ 2017; 189: pp. E954-E961

Ford GA, Bhakta BB, Cozens A, et al: Safety and efficacy of co-careldopa as an add-on therapy to occupational and physical therapy in patients after stroke (DARS): a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Lancet Neurol 2019; 18: pp. 530-538

Global, regional, and national burden of stroke, 1990–2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016. Lancet Neurol 2019; 18: pp. 439-458

Winstein CJ, Wolf SL, Dromerick AW, et al: Effect of a task-oriented rehabilitation program on upper extremity recovery following motor stroke: the ICARE randomized clinical Trial. JAMA 2016; 315: pp. 571-581

Zeiler SR: should we care about early post-stroke rehabilitation? Not yet, but soon. Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep 2019; 19: pp. 13

You may find more information about supporting someone who has had a stroke from:

Malaysia Stroke Counsel

 National Stroke Association of Malaysia (NASAM)

American Stroke Association

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

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Topics: Wellness

Calvin Leong

Written by Calvin Leong

Calvin Leong holds a Master in Medical Education from the University of Dundee, United Kingdom. He is certified in Clinical Wound Care by the ASEAN Wound Care Association. Calvin has 20 years of clinical and lecturing experience focusing on Mentoring in Healthcare, Traumatology and Medical Sciences. Calvin is HRDC certified trainer. He is also a Life Member of The Malaysian Association for the Study of Pain (MASP) and the Malaysian Society of Wound Care Professionals (MSWCP).

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