A stroke is a hugely traumatic experience. And while recovery largely depends on the extent of the brain injury, seniors who have experienced a stroke always need an organized and dedicated care plan. Here are some tips on how to provide your loved one with the best possible post-stroke care.
What to expect after a stroke?
A stroke survivor faces many physical and mental challenges and depending on the severity of their brain damage will have minor to significant mobility and cognitive issues. After a stroke they may experience the following symptoms:
- Weakness or paralysis
- Balance or coordination complications
- Sensations of pain or numbness
- Trouble swallowing
- Bowel or urinary control problems
- Cognitive complications
- Unawareness of symptoms
- Mood swings and outbursts
How to provide care?
Talk to healthcare professionals
While you may feel bombarded by new information, especially in the first few days, it’s important to try to take in as much as you can and learn everything about the level of care your loved one will need. Be sure to make follow up appointments with the doctor and consider bringing a list of questions with you. You can also ask your loved one if they have any questions they’re shy to ask themselves.
Reorganize the home
Your loved one’s home may need slight modifications to make them feel comfortable and safer. Consider grab bars, chair lifts, ramps and any slight modifications that may assist them with balance.
Help them follow a healthy diet
When it comes to a stroke, high blood pressure and cholesterol are common culprits. Making sure that your loved one follows a balanced diet that’s rich in vegetables and avoids foods high in saturated fats and sodium can be very beneficial. Gradually reintroducing daily exercise, even if it’s just some gentle chair exercise is important.
Spend quality time together
Having a stroke can leave your loved one feeling isolated, lonely, scared or even depressed. It’s very important to not only do things for them but also with them. Make sure you and other family members and friends pay your loved one visits and call, as well as spend quality time together. Going for a walk, spending time in the garden or even just watching TV together matters.
Provide support with day-to-day activities
When your loved one returns from the hospital, going about their daily routine may be difficult at first without assistance. They may need help with activities like hygiene and personal care or medication reminders.
Be mindful of the their moods and behaviors
A stroke is a traumatic event that brings about big lifestyle changes and your loved one may struggle with how to cope with these adjustments emotionally. They may have moods and outbursts that are out of character. Make sure not to take these personally but rather be supportive and listen with empathy. Note that professional help may be needed in more serious cases and a support group with fellow stroke survivors can also be helpful.
Reduce the chance of hospital readmission
The first month after hospital discharge is really critical. Elderly adults have a lower chance of recovery if they are rehospitalized in this 30-day window. During this first month, follow the doctor’s advice religiously and make sure your loved one gets the best care possible. Note that may involve cooperating with a professional in-home caregiver.
Remember to take care of yourself, too
While caregiving is never an easy task, when you’re constantly around your loved one who’s had a stroke, it’s easy to absorb second-hand trauma. Be sure to give yourself constant breaks to recharge your batteries and look after your physical and mental health to make sure you can function at your highest capacity when you’re around your loved one. An in-home caregiver can take a lot of stress off your shoulders.
How can transitional care help?
As mentioned before, the first month after a hospital stay is critical, so it’s essential to have a plan to ensure your loved one has the support needed to prevent undesired re-hospitalization. At Open Arms, our transitional care program starts with an assessment that evaluates your loved one’s needs to successfully and safely recover at home. We build a care plan around their specific condition and care goals. We work with the family, doctors, nurses and rehab professionals to ensure the project is built around patient goals.
Our in-home caregivers can help with all of the above mentioned caregiving tasks, such as preparing meals and creating a healthy diet, encouraging exercise, providing companionship, helping with personal hygiene, running errands and making doctor’s appointments, encouraging hobbies and social activities and more. They can also monitor your loved one’s health and alert you of any changes. They can offer a helping hand not only to your loved one but also to you, freeing up some of your time you can spend focusing on your own life.
If you think your loved one would benefit from in-home care, we’re always here to help. Look around our website to learn more about our in-home care services and if you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with us.