Recovering from a Stroke: Tips for Caregivers

A stroke can be a frightening and debilitating incident, even once it is over. When a senior returns home from the hospital, receiving thorough and compassionate care is key to a successful recovery. The following advice will help caregivers offer valuable support to seniors after a stroke.

Adjust your caregiving. Many caregivers have already been supporting a senior for a period of time when a stroke occurs. After a senior comes home from the hospital, do not expect to fall into the same routines. A stroke typically alters a person’s needs and behaviors in a number of ways. Depending on the location and severity of the stroke, a senior may have increased difficulty walking, speaking or eating. They may also have trouble focusing, recalling information or recognizing certain items. Be prepared to re-learn a senior’s needs and redefine the ways you offer care and support. A physician will have a better understanding of a senior’s individual health status and can offer specific advice.

Offer emotional support. Recovering from a stroke can be a confusing and upsetting time. A senior may be struggling with changes to their health or worrying about a recurring episode. Be sure to offer support and friendship during a senior’s recovery. And remember that recovery never looks the same for two people; it occurs in different ways at different stages. Encourage seniors not to become discouraged or impatient. Caregivers should also monitor a senior’s mood for signs of anxiety and depression. If you believe a senior is suffering from a mental illness, seek the appropriate professional care. Looking after a senior post-stroke can also be stressful for the caregiver. If you experience caregiver burnout do not hesitate to seek time and help for yourself. Your health and well-being are equally important.

Understand prescriptions. A senior who has suffered a stroke will likely be prescribed several medications. A caregiver should have a thorough understanding of each medication, including its purpose and side effects. When should the medication be taken? Should it be administered with food? Is nausea a common side effect? Carefully following each medication’s instructions will support a senior’s recovery and increase their quality of life. If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to bring them to the attention of a senior’s physician.                         

Encourage lifestyle changes. Lifestyle factors are the leading cause of stroke. It is important for caregivers to understand which habits contributed to a senior’s initial stroke. Common triggers include smoking, diabetes, an unhealthy diet, a sedentary lifestyle and excessive alcohol consumption. Caregivers can help a senior adjust their lifestyle in order to lead a healthier life and prevent a recurring stroke.

Recovering from a stroke is never easy, but exceptional support from a caregiver can make it a faster, easier and more successful process. If you have any questions about stroke recovery, please ask us in the comments.

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