There are many things to understand about the process of recovery from a stroke. It can be a frightening and stressful time for everyone. Strokes occur every 40 seconds in the United States and are currently the fifth cause of death in the U.S.
Fortunately, there can be a path of recovery for many stroke patients. When possible, most stroke patients prefer to recuperate at home, with support of family and home care. For those who are caregivers, what do you need to know?
What is a Stroke and How is it Caused?
According to the Mayo Clinic, “A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of your brain is interrupted or reduced, preventing brain tissue from getting oxygen and nutrients. Brain cells begin to die in minutes. A stroke is a medical emergency, and prompt treatment is crucial. Early action can reduce brain damage and other complications.
The good news is that many fewer Americans die of stroke now than in the past. Effective treatments can also help prevent disability from stroke.”
Stroke Rehab and Recovery
According to data compiled by the National Stroke Association, approximately 10 percent of people recover fully or almost fully, with 25 percent receiving minor impairments. 40 percent of stroke survivors have impairments that require special care and only approximately 10 percent of survivors require long term or facility care.
Successful recovery depends on a number of factors including:
- Age of patient
- Level of damaged caused
- Pre-existing conditions
- How quickly recovery is started
- Motivation for recovery
If your loved one has been cleared my medical professionals to recover at home, here is how you can help:
6 Things to Know or Do to Assist in Recovery
Ask Many Questions to Medical Professionals
As your loved one is preparing to go home, be sure to ask as many questions as possible about what to expect and how best to support. Ask about resources, whether online or in the community. Ask them to assist you in making an at home care recovery plan, be sure to speak with the Care Manager to get the most accurate information. Is there a need to set up home care? What are the follow up steps to be taken?
Begin Recovery As Soon As Possible
The time immediately after a stroke is a time of the highest neuroplasticity (this is when the brain is able to develop new neural pathways and retain changes and new habits). Whether it’s physical rehab or consistent practice of habits, these actions help to rewire the brain and assist greatly in recovery. Speaking with their medical professional about the best ways to help and support your loved one in this is key.
Prepare the Home
Based on your loved one’s recovery diagnosis, there may need to be at home modifications that need to be made. There may be physical things that need to be installed, such as guard rails, or handrails near the toilet and in the shower. There may be other things that need to be removed, such as specific furniture or obstacles in traffic routes. You may need to consider that the living arrangements should be all on one floor, as opposed to multi-level living.
Based on the feedback of the medical staff at the hospital or facility where the patient was treated, you may need to arrange home care personnel to be on staff in the home. There are different types of home care available, from hourly to live-in Home Health Aides to nurses visits.
Support for Success
Experiencing a stroke is unnerving, scary and frustrating for the patient. Even a “normal” bad day can feel defeating. You want to be sure to provide as many supports for success and a successful recovery as possible. When working with the stroke specialists in creating a recovery plan, ask them to help you create a timeline for the rehabilitation plan. This will help everyone to stay motivated and to encourage celebrating the small victories, which goes a long way to future motivation.
Aspects of depression, anxiety, confusion and PTSD can all be common after effects of having a stroke. Add to that possible physical limitations and communication issues and it can be an extremely frustrating period. Be sure that you as a caregiver are taking care of your physical and mental health in the best way possible as you support your loved one.
Be sure that medication management and diet management are being considered carefully. Understanding the importance of good diet in recovery is critical for healing and reduction of the risk of having another stroke. Have a look here for diet and food guidelines.
Understand Communication Challenges
Knowing that your loved one might have challenges with communication and how you can help will be essential, especially in the early stages of recovery. In addition to determining what types of specialists the patient might need (physio, occupational therapy, psychologist, etc.) there may be a need or desire to supplement a speech or language pathologist with other tools for communication.
Thankfully, in this day and age of technology, there are many tools that can help with this task. Click here for a useful article on recommended apps for seniors who have challenges communicating.
There is life and recovery after having experienced a stroke. Day by day, recovery progresses and even those small wins or achieving of a milestone will help both your loved one and you feel renewed and motivated to keep moving forward.
To read inspiring stories of recovery and support from the stroke community, click here.
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Do you have questions about how you can better support your loved one while they age in place in South Florida or regarding homecare in general? Please contact CareGivers of America here: Contact or call us toll free: 800-342-4197
*No information in this article is to be taken as medical advice. This post is not sponsored, but may contain external links to websites, articles or product examples. External links are used for example or refence purposes only and these links do not indicate specific product or website endorsement by CareGivers of America.