A stroke survivor’s family is often the most important source of long-term support during recovery and rehabilitation. Surviving a stroke is typically a trying experience for both survivors and caregivers. Some strokes produce personality changes that may be harmful to relationships. If you are a caregiver, taking care of yourself is equally as important as taking care of your loved one that suffered a stroke.
Experienced caregivers suggest the following tips to make everyone’s lives a little easier:
Organize healthcare needs
- Keep a running list of medications and questions to take with you to doctor’s appointments.
- Use a calendar to keep appointments straight.
Provide emotional support
- Encourage the stroke survivor to talk about his or her feelings. Listen, show love and patience.
- Join a support group for encouragement and ideas from people who’ve been there.
- Allow the survivor to take care of himself or herself as much as possible. Although it may be difficult to watch your survivor struggle to do things alone, this promotes greater independence in the long run. But have patience! The survivor may not be able to do a task as quickly as before the stroke.
Provide socialization opportunities for yourself and your survivor
- Go to the mall or grocery store with your survivor so you both can enjoy some physical activity.
- Continue pre-stroke hobbies and activities as much as possible. Call friends regularly to play tennis or golf or to go walking, and schedule friends, family or professional caregivers to take care of your survivor during that time.
Being a caregiver can be a tough job. If you find yourself frustrated, distinguish between what you can and can’t change. Trying to change an uncontrollable circumstance always ends badly. Before frustration boils over, head it off with an activity to help you calm down. Count to 10 slowly or take a few deep breaths. If possible, take a brief walk or go to another room to collect your thoughts. Try calling a friend, praying, meditating, singing, listening to music or taking a bath. For more tips, advice, and support please visit our online support network at http://supportnetwork.heart.org/. Here you can reach out to others who are going through a similar journey. For more information on stroke please visit www.strokeassociation.org.