31 Jan Stroke: A How-To Guide for Loved Ones
Stroke: A How-To Guide for Loved Ones
Expecting the Unexpected
Sometimes, the unexpected happens. When it does, it’s hard to know how to cope, what the next steps are, or who to ask for help. Stroke is one of these unexpected, unfortunate events, but at Cerebrum Health Centers, we are trained to prepare for it.
We know that this situation is scary, and it’s a lot to deal with as the stroke victim and the loved ones. Suddenly, everything is different and recovery becomes a tedious and emotional task. If we can help others prepare for the process in any way, we want to do just that.
Steps to Stroke Recovery
Stroke recovery is different for everyone, but here’s what to expect moving forward. It can take days, months, or years, and it can be a bit regimented. The process begins at the ICU, where the individual is diagnosed with Stroke. The doctor then refers the patient to an in-hospital physical therapist to undergo a certain amount of regulated rehabilitation, which typically includes speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and more. Once they are released from the hospital, they either go to a Skilled Nursing Facility or are released to go home, either independently or to a caregiver.
Our facility comes in when the individual seeks outpatient help for further recovery. What’s unique about us is that we are able to get measurable improvements in stroke patients even years after they have been released from the first several steps in the process. We take multiple therapies, combine them, and use them to basically “switch the brain back on.” We are brain experts, so we have thorough capabilities for assessing how certain incidents can impact the brain and what that means for the patient short term and long term.
How to Treat Your Loved One
In post-stroke, it may be difficult for a person to speak or communicate, so this is when patience on the caregiver’s part is crucial. Keep in mind that, while your loved one is struggling to speak, their intelligence remains intact. If they cannot find the right words, help them by letting them know you understand and that you’re there to be patient and love them through it. Shouting isn’t necessary, as they can hear you; processing what you say is what’s really difficult at the moment. Simply repeat what you said the first time, maybe slower, and both of you remain calm with integrity. In fact, this should be a rule of thumb. To help the brain heal and encourage independence, they need to perform certain actions repetitively; doing everything for them isn’t giving them the opportunity to relearn those actions.
A Message to the Caregiver
Throughout the process, someone has to be there for the patient, and that’s not easy for anyone. Caring for someone who has had a stroke can be overwhelming emotionally, physically and mentally. In order to properly care for someone who is recovering, the caregiver must remember to invest time in themselves as well. That means:
- Taking a walk outside; being in the sun (humans are beings of light and need it for many reasons)
- Deep breathing exercises
- Healthy eating to keep your energy up
- Long, warm bath or shower when you get the chance
- Whatever means taking time for yourself to do something unrelated to caring for others and fully focused on caring for yourself
What You Can Do in the Meantime
It’s hard to accept that we may not have control over certain situations, but if you can accept that, it makes it easier to move forward with some peace of mind. Know that your main purpose is for support and to love them. All you can do is help them eat healthy, do appropriate exercises with them, bring in the familiar, and ultimately, improve their quality of life as much as possible.
As a loved one, keep your eyes open for the signs of stroke for yourself and those in your life who have already undergone stroke.
- Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, leg, or one side of the body
- Sudden confusion
- Difficulty speaking or understanding speech
- Sudden trouble seeing
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination
- Sudden severe headache
You’re Doing What You Can
By researching enough that you’ve come across this article just shows that you’re already trying to do anything you can. Acknowledge that, and know that even if they can’t express it, it means everything to your loved one. If your loved one may benefit from outpatient care, feel free to reach out to us at Cerebrum Health Centers.