A stroke is a serious and very sudden condition. It affects mostly older people due to the hardening and narrowing of their arteries, which happens as we age. Other factors can also contribute to being susceptible to a stroke, including lifestyle and some medical conditions. Seeing a loved one so unwell can be very upsetting and also very frightening for you, as you will want to know how best to help and support them.
There are no two strokes the same, therefore everyone is affected differently, depending on the part of the brain that the bleed occurs. There are some people who recover really well, and very quickly, and for others recovery can be slow and have more severe problems.
Strokes can affect so many areas including, vision, mobility, communication, memory and concentration. Aside from this, some patient’s personality can change and this always has a huge impact on everyone in the family as well as the patient.
Feeling a deep sense of loss at this point is completely a normal feeling as the person you know and love may not be the same person anymore. Keep telling yourself and everyone around you that the changes in their personality is not something they can help or have any control over, it’s the result of having a stroke. Work closely with all your family and friends to support you all during this difficult time and to help you come to terms with what has happened to you all.
Everyone’s recovery is so different, and the amount of time involved will also be different. You will see the biggest improvements early on in the recovery process although their recovery will and can continue for months or even years.
There are some patients that will make a full recovery, to others who will not recover enough to be able to have the life they had before the stroke.
The hospital will be able to advise you on the level of support needed for when they return home. There will be some patients with minimal input, and others that will need day-to-day care.
Once your loved one is back at home there will be so many questions to ask, including questions about time frames and are you able to manage the care alone.
Below are some ideas that can help you.
- Talk to the medical team at the hospital, ask them to explain what has happened and to explain anything to you that you do not understand.
- Ask the medical team what ways you can help with your loved one’s care and rehabilitation. As time progresses, the physiotherapy team can help you learn skills in order for you to assist in their rehab programme.
- Only try to think about one day at a time. Recovery from a stroke is a slow process and not something that can be rushed. Keeping your loved one motivated at all times and show them encouragement daily.
- Looking after yourself is vital, so that you are able and strong enough to help your loved one.
How to help your loved one once they are discharged from the hospital
Watching a loved one adapt to a new way of life after a stroke can be heart breaking to witness. Whether you are a family member, spouse, or a friend, having knowledge of the best ways to support them will also help you.
There are many different health professionals that can help teach relatives how to care for your loved one.
An occupational therapist will help the patient by looking at the patients’ abilities and trying to improve their day-to-day function and tasks. They can help with dressing, bathing, toileting, cooking, eating and many more tasks that we all undertake daily and help and encourage the patient to be as independent as they can be. The OT will also help assess what adaptions or aids would make life easier at home, such as ramps, grab rails, hoists and other aids that can help make life just that little bit easier.
Physiotherapists can help once the patient has been discharged and is now home. A stroke can affect the part of your brain that controls your movement, so you may find that the patient has some paralysis or some form of weakness and have problems moving around and doing everyday tasks that they used to find so easy. Other symptoms they may experience is balance problems and joint pain.
By helping the patient build up strength and getting them mobilised, helping them reach their goals and expectations, and preventing further complications during the recovery.
If the stroke has had an impact on the patients’ speech, then a speech therapist can help support you and the patient to improve social conversation and improve the limitations that the patient may have been left with. Also helping them to understand speech, writing and reading if needed.
Involving a psychologist to your loved one can help them with their attitude towards their recovery. Anxiety and depression is a very common side effect which is experienced by many stroke patients. This is only heightened once they are discharged from hospital back to their home environment, knowing that their physical and mental abilities may have changed substantially. It is very important that the patient feels supported knowing that there is someone there to help and offer support to them and their family.
Caring for someone at home after they have had a stroke can be very hard work, mentally and physically, and it is a big decision as to whether you can cope alone or need extra help by outside carers.
At Home Physio Group we have a fantastic team of highly skilled professional physiotherapists who can help your loved one on their road to recovery. Please call 0330 335 1016 to find out how we can help you.