A stroke is a sudden interruption of the blood supply in the brain. A stroke can either be caused by a blockage in the blood vessels in the brain — ischemic — or can be caused by the blood vessels in the brain, bleeding into the brain — hemorrhagic. Strokes cause damage to the part of the brain that is affected and can cause the death of the brain tissue that is deprived of oxygen. Because our brains control all of our thoughts, senses, and bodily functions, strokes can cause a variety of symptoms, paralysis, and residual deficits. Some of these deficits may resolve over time, while others may never improve.
Strokes can be particularly devastating when they strip the victim of their ability to care for themselves. For the most part, people who have suffered from a stroke are completely aware of what is going on and their limitations. If the stroke has stunted their speech, it can make it difficult to communicate, but does not often alter their thoughts, expression, or ability to understand. However, this can make it incredibly difficult to go about their normal day.
Join us in today’s post as we review some ways that you and your loved one can manage post-stroke symptoms at home. To clarify, this is a discussion of how to care for the long term effects, once a stroke has already been treated. Please do not delay medical intervention or attempt to manage stroke symptoms at home.
Promote Independence and Rehabilitation
When you become a caretaker for anyone, it is important to have a growth mindset and work toward promoting independence. Caretakers are often very good at doing things for their loved one to save time and to avoid their loved one struggling. However, just like a growing baby, this does little to support growth and healing and can actually stunt their progress. Yes, it can be very frustrating for your loved one to attempt to do things they can think through clearly and tasks that used to be mindless for them and get done with little to no effort. It can be painful for you to watch them struggle, but allowing them to do everything they can, at their own pace, and offering assistance is the best way to promote rehabilitation and help them regain what use they can.
Installing pull bars and over the toilet seats, along with investing in modified cups and silverware can really help a stroke patient regain their independence. It is important for both you and them to not ignore the paralyzed body parts. You can massage the arm and encourage them to move their arm using the healthy one. This can be difficult, emotionally, but will get easier over time. Remember that muscles atrophy and tendons and ligaments can contracture, leaving the limb useless if feeling and motor-sensory is ever restored.
Have a Safety First Mindset
One of the biggest concerns for people recovering from a stroke is safety. For those who choose to live at home with their limitations, these safety concerns can intensify. If your loved one requires a walker to move about, it is important to keep the walker within reach and keep walking paths clear. Mind rugs, pets, and clutter than may block your loved one’s route from the bed to the bathroom and around the house.
Things that may have never been a concern, should now be reassessed for safety with your loved one’s current physical and cognitive abilities. Trip and fall hazards are perhaps the biggest in-home danger and cause for injury in the physically limited who remain in their home. Ensure there are no electrical cords strewn about, move furniture or small decorations that pose a trip hazard. Install handles in the tub and next to the toilet.
Care For the Person, Not the Condition
When you are caring for someone who suffers from physical or cognitive limitations, it can be difficult to remember that the person is your loved one. Your loved one still has thoughts, feelings, desires, and emotions. When you are caring for anyone, it is important to remember that you are not caring for their limitations, you are caring for the person who has the limitations. This person has basic needs including hygiene and toileting, eating, sleeping, and comfort. Even though they may not be able to communicate with you as they used to, it does not change their personality or their needs. Be sure to ask them frequently if they are comfortable or if they would like anything. Be patient and encourage them to do what they can for themselves and then help them with what they can’t
Be On The Lookout For Emotional Changes
Strokes can cause a variety of mood and emotional changes. Some of these changes can be caused by the area of the brain affected and others can be caused by attempting to deal with the changes and the reality of what has happened to them. Physical limitations can be devastating and people handle these changes in different ways. It is important to understand that frustration and anger are not because of you and you should not take it personally. Offer your love, patience, and support.
Stroke survivors are at an increased risk of depression. Loss of independence and feeling as though they are a burden to their caretakers can increase depressive emotions. Depression can interfere with your loved one’s motivation and ability to reach their rehabilitation goals. Monitor for isolation, withdrawal, negative talk, and changes in personality. If you are concerned about your loved one’s mental health, don’t be afraid to seek treatment right away.
Enlist the Help of In-Home Care
Home healthcare agencies specialize in caring for those with physical and cognitive disabilities. Whether the condition is caused by a stroke, dementia, an accident, or something else. In-home care can help you provide the care your loved one needs and the respite you deserve. Whether you need in-home care just a few hours a week or you have a growing family of your own and need full-time care, or something in between, we can help. Our home caregivers can assist with everything from simple housekeeping, medical management, companion care, and occupational and physical therapy. For an angel to watch over your loved one when they need it most, contact us for your in-home evaluation today.
At Angels on Call Homecare, our in-home caregivers are passionate about helping those who need it. Our team of home healthcare experts serves hundreds of clients in Putnam County and the surrounding area in New York. For all of your in-home care needs, visit us online and contact us to schedule your evaluation today.