Tips for Caring for a Stroke Survivor

A stroke can be overwhelming for both the survivor and their family caregivers. Learn how to care for yourself and assist in the recovery process with these tips, including apps, exercises, and communication strategies.

Tips for Caring for a Stroke Survivor
Caring for a Stroke Survivor

Here are some tips for caring for a stroke survivor that you need to know:

A stroke can be one of the scariest things to happen to a person, and also for family members caring for the survivor. In home health care for a person recovering from a stroke is emotionally, mentally and physically taxing for everyone involved, but is also essential to the healing process. Family members will have to step up and play a bigger role in the life of the stroke survivor to ensure full recovery.

Caregiver Tip: Care for yourself too

This is especially important for family members doing all they can to help. It's easy to let your own health suffer through all of the sleepless nights next to a hospital bed, the emotional stress, and the strain of the mind to somehow make everything fit in the same picture  of your life before the stroke.

It's difficult to deal with when a family member first suffers a stroke. You won't want to leave their side at all, and you will begin to drain everything you have. As time goes by it may or may not get easier, but it is always important to have some "you time".  Go for a walk for 30 minutes, call a friend to express your feelings, and find time to eat healthy to boost your positivity.

More Tips for Caring for a Stroke Survivor...

Assisting and encouraging the healing process

A stroke may leave the survivor weak on one side of the body and unable to move, talk or think clearly. The steps of stroke recovery include acute care, spontaneous recovery, rehabilitation and community living (read more on each stage here).

It will feel like a lot added to your already busy schedule. Keeping track of medication intake, doctor's appointments, mental and physical exercises, emotional support, personal hygiene, and communicating with healthcare professionals on behalf of the victim might all be resting on your shoulders. But there are ways to make your burdens feel as light as possible. Good family communications are really important and illness can affect the family dynamics.

Continence Problems After a Stroke

More Tips for Caring for a Stroke Survivor...

Have more questions? Check out the Frequently Asked Question section of the website. You will find a lot of different questions answered directly.

Sight Problems After a Stroke

Mood Swings and Personality Changes After a Stroke

Anger After a Stroke

Medical Apps

My Medical is an easy to use mobile database for all your medical information. You can add information for different people in your family, so take notes about the progress being made to have for doctor visits and therapy sessions.

Appointment-Plus is great app that makes managing appointments a breeze. You can create, update, and cancel appointments as well as send emails and calls to remind yourself and others.

Other tools you may use:

Develop a person centered care profile for your family member.

Mental and physical exercise

This is a huge part of healing after a stroke, and as a caregiver you will want to provide this in an enjoyable way. Ask a doctor  or physical therapist what skill level they think the stroke survivor is at for performing mental and physical tasks, and which games they might suggest.

Gauge the skills of the patient and don't push them to do things that are out of their reach. You want to remember to support them mentally, emotionally and physically because most victims of strokes can get frustrated and depressed easily.

Play games

Board games like Battleship are an amazing exercise for speech and word retrieval. The players tell each other whether there was a hit or a miss, and which numbers and letters on the grid the ships are. Fine motor skills are also exercised by placing pegs on the board. Crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, and card games like war and slap jack are other options for fun mental conditioning.

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Preventing another stroke and other complications

Understanding the cardiovascular system and how to keep it healthy will go a long way in stroke prevention. If you have high blood pressure know that you must do everything in your power to bring it down to a healthy level. You can do this with a diet low in saturated and trans fat, exercising five times a week, and eating five servings of fruits and veggies daily.

Do not smoke.

Avoid dangerous medication that may cause a stroke. Nearly all medication has side effects, and some can lead to another stroke, or other complications. Premarin is a conjugated estrogen that can cause stroke, heart attack and breast cancer depending on your special circumstances, and usually won't be prescribed if you are at risk. Prescribed less warily is another risky medication - a blood thinner called Pradaxa. This is given to patients to prevent blood cots, stroke, and pulmonary embolism.

Pradaxa leads to internal bleeding in the brain, kidneys, intestines and heart attacks, which aren't rare side effects for blood thinners. What is rare though is that Pradaxa doesn't have a reversal agent (like older blood thinners on the market), and patients were not informed of the huge risk they were taking. Despite lawsuits, Pradaxa is still endorsed by the FDA, so caregivers need to know about the dangers and risks of any medications a stroke survivor is taking and ask many questions while in the doctor's office. Always do your research. Read all the information provided by your doctor and pharmacist and never take a drug that isn't absolutely safe and necessary (not only for the stroke survivor, but for yourself).

Adapting Your Home After a Stroke

You can learn more about stroke prevention here, and stay strong in caring for a stroke survivor. You will feel like giving up at times, but you won't. A stroke is not the end, but a beginning. It's a chance to show you care.

Have a story about caring for a loved one post stroke? Please share here? Help others realize that they are not alone. Submit Your Caregiver Story

Writing on behalf of, Madeline Ferdinand is interested in keeping the old youthful and the youthful wise.  When she's not writing, she enjoys shopping, making pottery and sampling exotic teas.