--Philip J Reed, Valley Hospital Medical Center
Watching a loved one, particularly an elderly person, recover from a stroke can be a frightening and frustrating time for everyone involved. Their primary stroke center will offer all of the care needed while in hospital, but what about afterwards? It can seem overwhelming to care for someone who is struggling from the trauma of a stroke, but there are a few ways that you can ensure that you are supporting them in the best possible way, and therefore giving them the best possible chance of recovery.
1.Keep Yourself Informed
As a caregiver, you may feel like you are under a great deal of pressure and stress to provide the best care that you can. During this time, it is very important that you educate yourself about exactly what your loved one is going through and what rehabilitative treatment will be necessary. You don’t have to be a professional physical or occupational therapist to play an active role in their recovery; you simply need the recourses to understand what is required. Your primary stroke center will be able to give you all of the information that you need.
2.Remembering Your Needs
This is often something that is forgotten and can have a very negative impact on both patient and caregiver. To be a real support and effective caregiver you must look after yourself with just as much dedication. Burnout and frustration will not help either of you and can actually reverse any positive results of rehab. Looking after your needs will actually be a benefit for you both.
3. Physical Therapy
Physical therapy is essential for stoke victims and can result in a significant amount of function return and as a caregiver; you can play a large role in continuing and supporting this rehab at home. Being an active participant in physical therapy can also help you to understand the patient’s physical difficulties and to learn the best way to support them.
Stroke victims often have limited or severely affected verbal abilities which can prove incredibly difficult for everyone. Knowing this and understanding the frustrations for both of you can allow you more patience when supporting the stroke victim in their desire to communicate. Having something like your ability to express yourself clearly taken away can be the most difficult part of stroke recovery as we often take that ability for granted.
5.Understanding the anger.
A stroke victim can go through bouts of intense anger or even deep depression. Recovery is a long and difficult road and understanding these emotional changes is very important. Allowing them to explore their feeling while still supporting their recovery can be an enriching experience for you both.
Caring for a stroke victim will not be all smiles and sunshine everyday but with the right support for both victim and caregiver, the road to recovery can be a successful one.