Life After a Stroke
A stroke can mean many life changes. These changes not only effect the stroke survivor, but also the family or caregiver for that person. Stroke effects range from new physical limitations to emotional issues caused by the stroke. Frederick Memorial Hospital knows that recovery from a stroke is a team effort and offers the following suggestions, facts and tips for dealing with life after a stroke.
For the Patient
One of the most frequently asked questions by stroke survivors is “will I be able to go home again?” There is never a guarantee and additional rehabilitation at another facility after discharge may be needed, but with rehab, a good plan and support most people who have had a stroke can go home. The staff of the Stroke Unit on 4B can help you prepare for this transition by answering questions and providing resource materials.
Success at home may be attained by following some of these simple guidelines:
- Follow the medical recommendations healthcare providers gave before discharge
- Take medicine as prescribed
- A caregiver (often a spouse) should be available at all times
- Know your ability level
- Eliminate dangerous obstacles in the home (area rugs, install hand rails and adaptive bathroom equipment)
- Modify your home as much as possible to obtain the maximum level of independence
If going home is not an option, the Stroke Unit on 4B team can help to find a suitable alternative:
- Nursing facilities are good options for people who need continuing medical attention
- Skilled nursing facilities offer continued medical care, but also more therapy and rehab than a caregiver could provide at home
- Assisted living could be for people who are still somewhat independent, but need some assistance with meals, medications and housekeeping
Glade Valley Nursing and Rehabilitation Center located in Walkersville, Maryland has continued services for stroke survivors at many levels. Glade Valley offers subacute rehabilitation and outpatient rehabilitation services for physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy depending on the level of needs following the hospital stay. The facility also sponsors a monthly Stroke Survivor Support Group Meeting for stroke survivors, families and anyone from the community interested in the educational topics. For more information about these services contact the Glade Valley Rehabilitation Department at 301-898-4321.
Changes after a Stroke
Stroke survivors often complain of feeling tired all the time. Initially after a stroke, fatigue is common. In a few months after the stroke, most people get their energy back. However, some survivors may not return to their previous energy levels and it is important for every survivor to learn to live with the energy level they have. There are many reasons why low energy can occur, and it is important to talk to your doctor about this to help pinpoint the cause.
With a stroke, come biological and psychological changes. Biological effects of a stroke can range from the lack of mobility to rapid mood changes or depression. Crying or laughing at inappropriate times can be common. Physical changes may include the use of a wheelchair or assistance toileting. These biological effects often are the cause of numerous psychological changes. Psychological changes are very natural and common. They are part of the personal adjustment to living with a stroke. People may express frustration, anxiety, anger, or lack of caring (apathy). Depression is very common and patients should not hesitate to talk to their doctors about anti-depression medications. With both sets of changes, it is important to stay connected with your medical team, continue therapy and not withdraw from caregivers. The effects of a stroke are often life-changing, but are manageable.
For the Caregiver
Everyone who is involved with the care of a stroke survivor is a caregiver. However, often the survivor's spouse becomes the primary caregiver. The care of the stroke survivor should be approached as a team. The stroke survivor and primary caregiver should be partners. Often if the team works together, results will be positive and beneficial for both.
Caring for the Stroke Survivor
Provide emotional and physical support. The caregiver may need assistance with physical support if it becomes apparent this poses a risk to them.
Strive to ensure the survivor's safety. This includes medication management and also the survivor’s home environment.
Coordinate medical appointments, other healthcare needs and finance and legal affairs.
Encourage the survivor to be as independent as possible (while staying safe) and ensuring the skills learned during rehab are reinforced.
Caring for the Caregiver
Make time for yourself. Caring for a stroke survivor can be challenging, no matter the severity. It is important that as the primary caregiver you take care of yourself so you can care for your loved one. Take a few moments every day for personal enjoyment, read a book if the survivor has rehab, take a nap if the survivor is napping. Arrange for someone else to care for the stroke survivor every once in awhile so you can go out by yourself or with family or friends. Other resources that are available are:
Since most strokes occur in people over 65, many stroke survivors are grandparents. Children should not be excluded from the care and rehabilitation process. Include children as much as possible (while staying safe) in order to help them cope with the changes a stroke survivor might encounter. By doing this, children will often be a source of enjoyment for the stroke survivor and the children themselves will feel as though they are making a difference and staying close to their loved ones.
The American Stroke Association has a hotline for people who have had a stroke and for caregivers. The “Warmline” allows people to speak with stroke survivors and caregivers for questions and support and find stroke support groups in your area.
Call 1-888-4-STROKE (1-888-478-7653)
Time is critical when you or someone you know is having a Stroke. Call 911 if you think you're having a stroke.
| F ace
|| facial droop and uneven smile
| A rm
|| arm numbness and arm weakness
| S peech
|| slurred speech, difficulty speaking or understanding
| T ime
|| Call 911 and get to the hospital immediately