Experiencing a stroke in and of itself is traumatic, both for the stroke survivor and his or her loved ones. Yet for many, the real challenge starts after the stroke, as the recovery process begins, and a variety of obstacles remain to be overcome. The key to maximizing recovery is in developing effective strategies to address each of these challenges, which typically fall into one of three categories.
The professional home care team at Nightingale Homecare, providers of the highest quality senior care Scottsdale and the surrounding area have to offer, highlights tips for each of these areas of recovery:
Physical changes are often most apparent, and vary based upon the area of the brain that was impacted by the stroke. Some of the more common challenges, with tips to help with each, include:
- Dysphagia (trouble swallowing): Cut food into smaller portions, or puree foods. Talk with the doctor to determine if liquid thickeners may be beneficial.
- Hemiparesis (weakness on one side of the body): Along with rehab and exercise, try in-home modifications and assistive devices, such as grab bars, specialized eating utensils, and a tub bench, as recommended by the physician.
- Pain: As many as 50% of stroke survivors experience some level of pain – sometimes several weeks or even months post-stroke. Tips to help include keeping bath/shower water at a temperate level, utilizing a shoulder support when ambulating, and remaining as physically active as possible. Talk with the physician for more pain management tips if the problem is severe or chronic.
While the emphasis is often on physical recovery, it’s important to understand that emotional changes are also quite common, and require just as much attention, care and treatment. While some degree of sadness, anger, frustration, and fear are to be expected as a result of undergoing a stroke, make certain your loved one’s emotional health does not descend into post-stroke depression, which may display as:
- Feeling helpless, hopeless, worthless
- Ongoing, excessive feelings of sadness, anxiety, emptiness
- Disinterest in previously enjoyed activities
- Concentration/memory problems
- Fatigue and/or difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Thoughts of suicide
Another common condition to watch for during stroke recovery is PBA (pseudobulbar affect), in which the individual experiences outbursts of uncontrollable laughing or crying.
Both of these conditions are treatable, and should be brought to the attention of the physician immediately.
Tasks that were once completed without a second thought may now be a struggle, such as speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, and planning. Additionally, short-term memory is often impacted. It can be helpful to implement communication modifications, such as drawing/writing if speaking is difficult, or creating a communication book with common pictures and symbols (such as a cup of water, plate of food, blanket, toilet, etc.) to allow the person to point to a specific need. Be sure to remain calm and patient as your loved one struggles through these challenges.
Whatever your loved one is facing post-stroke, Nightingale Homecare is on hand to help. With our in-home occupational, speech, and physical therapy services, plus a full range of both medical and non-medical care, we can ease the difficulties of stroke recovery. Contact us at (602) 504-1555 for more helpful stroke resources and to request an in-home consultation to discover the many ways we can help.