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How to Support a Family Member who Recently Had a Stroke

How to Support a Family Member who Recently Had a Stroke

by Rebecca Pudvah PT, DPT, CSCS, OCSLeave a Comment

In medical terms, a stroke is a loss of blood flow to part of the brain, which damages brain tissue. This impairment can occur in any part of the brain, which can have numerous effects, ranging from vision, auditory, speech, hearing, swallowing, balance, emotional control and/or motor control. A stroke is one of the few “invisible” conditions that affect a person in various ways. Below you will find the top four things you can do to help your loved one through their recovery process.

1. Be Present

Be there for them, just as you would want in return. Whether it is a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold on to, or an ear to listen to their struggles – time is precious, and it is always important to be present for your loved ones during a challenging time. Your loved ones may not be able to express themselves physically, emotionally, or mentally as they had previously, but know that your presence during this challenging time can be extremely valuable. One tip to help keep your loved one tuned in to current events is to keep a logbook at their bedside and write the tip/dates/duration of family visits to help them remain current. It can be difficult to keep track of time when you are recovering and having a logbook to refer back to can be helpful in times of loneliness.

2. Be Patient

Imagine no longer being able to walk, talk, feed yourself, express your emotions, understand speech, or even read as you once could. This is how frustrating it can be to experience a stroke, so give your loved one at least 60-90 seconds to respond to a command or question. Also, remember that they may need to use hand signals, blinking signals, hand gestures, or technology to respond, which requires a learning curve. Remember to be patient, be kind, and help prevent any escalations of frustrations.

3. Be Positive

Your loved one is likely to get upset, frustrated, fatigued, and anxious. These feelings may cause them to become reliant on others for self-care activities. However, it is extremely important that this individual use all of their abilities to allow them to be as independent as possible and as confident in themselves as possible. The process of re-learning how to eat, dress, tie shoes, and button buttons can be tedious; but the result is highly valuable. One helpful technique to apply is “hand-over-hand” assistance; this allows the patient to take the lead and the provider only to help as much as necessary. Although it may seem more convenient to “feed” the patient as you would a child, this will not promote healing and recovery for the patient; and it can make them feel helpless. Instead, facilitate their independence and embrace their successes no matter how big or small they may be.

4. Make Happy Memories

Depending on the severity of the stroke, the individual may or may not remember events prior to the event. This can lead to feelings of emptiness and loneliness. It is therefore encouraged to focus on making new happy memories. It is also important to reassure your loved one that they are still valued, appreciated, and not a burden to the family. Life is short, and it is important to smile each day, even briefly. One tip you can do is create a poster board or family tree of pictures of family and loved ones to help them retrieve lost memories.

Recovery from any injury or illness can be challenging. It is with the support of loved ones that we truly thrive. Here at Athletico, we work with patients and loved ones to maximize outcomes, improve quality of life, and ensure a smooth transition back into the patient’s desired lifestyle. Stroke recovery can take up to 1-2 years, and we want to help facilitate this process. We offer free assessments where a licensed physical therapist can discuss the potential benefits of therapy to see if it’s right for you or your loved one. Free assessments are available both in-clinic and virtually through our telehealth platform. We look forward to guiding you through recovery one step at a time.

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The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

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Home TherapyLifestylePhysical Rehabilitationmemory assistancestroke recovery

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