Recovering from a stroke can be a challenging time for stroke survivors as they relearn how to care for themselves, overcome mobility issues, or change how they communicate. Caregivers can help by encouraging their loved one to be as independent as possible, helping them make their own decisions, and promoting participation in leisure activities. Caring for a stroke patient should be tailored to individual needs, such as resolving problems with coordination and balance, overcoming difficulty with memory or thinking, and adapting to lifestyle changes.
“The transition from the hospital to the home is a critical time for stroke survivors,” explains Cindy Hudgens, RN, BSN, cardiovascular and stroke coordinator at Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center Hospital. “As a caregiver, you can help ease this transition by taking steps to ensure safety and comfort for their continuing recovery.”
Some changes can be made around the home to meet the patient’s specific requirements such as:
Kitchen. If a stroke survivor uses a wheelchair they may benefit from an over-the-stove mirror so they can see what is on the stove and a roll-under stove for easier access. Make sure oven mittens and hot pads are available to prevent burns and a fire extinguisher is within easy reach.
Bedroom. Make sure there is a clear pathway to the bathroom to avoid tripping over something in the dark. Change handles on cabinets so drawers can be opened easily with a fist, rather than fingers. Place clothes in easily accessible drawers and lower the hanging bar in the closet. Buy dressing aids such as a long-handled shoe horn to help the stroke patient get dressed on their own.
Bathroom. Install grab bars to assist with stability getting into and out of the shower. A bathmat or non-skid bath decals on the floor of the shower provides traction on a slick area. Make sure levers on faucets have long handles so they are easy to turn. Place towels and towel bars at a height within easy reach.
“Rehabilitation is an on-going process for stroke survivors. You may be involved in coordinating their rehabilitation, which is vital to long-term recovery and their overall wellness,” says Hudgens.
Under doctor’s orders, the stroke survivor may require such services as physical therapy, occupational therapy, nutritional care, rehabilitation counseling or speech/language pathology. These services may be provided in the home, or at long-term care facilities or rehabilitation hospitals.
“Remember that you are not alone and don’t forget to take care of your needs as well,” adds Hudgens. “Caring for yourself is just as important as caring for your loved one or your patient. Your personal wellbeing and continued strength will help you both through the recovery process.”
Support groups are available to address the needs and concerns of stroke survivors and to provide support to family, friends, and caregivers. Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center Hospital offers a monthly support group to help provide emotional support and education. The group meets the first Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. in the hospital’s Professional Building Classrooms at 11302 Fallbrook Drive. For more information, call 800-681-2733 or go online to www.CyFairHospital.com/StrokeSupport.