Caring after a patient who suffered from a stroke can be extremely challenging, yet over 50 million people in the United States care for a parent or loved one with an illness or disability. Most caregivers are women, and in spite of the numerous demands a senior may have, it’s still possible to make their lives comfortable and fulfilling. Caregivers should begin with educating themselves. Knowledge in the domain will help them provide the best care for their loved ones.
Find out as much as possible about strokes
The key to looking after someone who just had a stroke is to learn as much information as possible about the illness. Read books about the different types of prognoses, rehabilitation processes, and recovery; the more information you’ll be able to grasp, the better you’ll manage to look after your loved one.
Although health insurance or medical care usually covers rehabilitation and hospitalization expenses, there might be some restrictions involved. Determine what’s included in the recovery plan and what’s not. Be prepared for extra expenses as there will be payments you’ll have to make out of your own pocket. The case manager or social service department of a hospital can help you balance and understand the somewhat complex world of health insurance.
Recovery from a stroke depends on many factors
Recovering from a stroke depends on many, very important factors: where did the stroke occur in the brain? Was the brain badly affected, in what percentage? These are questions that need an answer. Together with a patient’s motivation, quality of rehabilitation, and caregiver support, recovery CAN happen. Try not to compare the stroke your loved one had with someone else’s because every survivor is unique.
Caregivers should be extremely patient with stroke survivors. The amount of rehabilitation therapy a patient receives is directly linked to recovery rate. Survivors on a delicate rehabilitation stage usually see progress after several weeks. That progress is measured by FIMS (functional independence measure score). These measurements include daily activity skills, communications skills, and mobility skills. A typical expectancy means improving 1-2 FIM points/day.
Assessing the needs of your loved one
The health care team of a stroke survivor can help caregivers determine the type of care patients need. You have to be prepared to offer personal care (dressing, bathing, eating), as well as coordinate healthcare requests such as rehab appointments and medication. Some other duties include managing insurance coverage and finances, and helping the survivor increase their functioning abilities.
After the stroke patient was released from the hospital, the caregiver must be prepared to deal with extremely challenging situations. For example, you may have to do some modifications inside your home to make it safer. Switching rooms and placing the patient on the ground floor to avoid climbing stairs is a great example of a whole list of other modifications that will come along the way. Some scenarios caregivers may have to deal with:
- 1. Mood and behaviour changes – strokes usually lead to permanent or temporary losses, and that can be devastating for the survivor; it’s important to help your loved one deal with mixed emotions. Provide love, support, and patience, and although it’s hard to see them suffer, accepting the situation just as it is matters a lot.
- 2. Watch out for depression – almost 40% of surviving stroke patients deal with some form of depression. That can interfere with the recovery process; as a caregiver, it’s up to you to seek treatment or find alternative ways to make your loved one get out of a depressive estate
- 3. A second stroke – as much as we’d like to think that surviving a stroke is a onetime deal, caregivers must be on the lookout as a second stroke can happen at any time. Minimizing the risk is essential, and the best way to do that is to make sure the patient gets healthy foods, regular exercise, and lives in a healthy environment (smoke-free home).
Caring for stroke survivors is not an easy endeavour. It’s important for the caregiver to be committed in order to improve the life quality of the patient. The best ways to do that is to get informed. Know as much as possible about the disease and ensure your loved one is properly cared for from both a medical and moral point of view.