After a loved one suffers a stroke, it may be difficult for the caregiver and other loved ones to accept the patient’s possible physical, verbal and cognitive changes. Caregivers may blame themselves for not identifying warning signs or for not reacting quicker in urging their loved one to receive medical care and advice. At the same time, caregivers are often overlooked and left feeling overwhelmed while their loved one is receiving medical care and therapy. They may be wondering how they can help a stroke patient and may need education and support themselves.
Education is important for stroke caregivers. Learning the warning signs of a stroke, and encouraging the stroke patient to adopt healthy habits, can help prevent a second occurrence. According to the National Stroke Association, four out of ten individuals who experience a stroke may have a second one within ten years. It is important that patients’ have ongoing medical monitoring and appropriate care. Blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight should be checked on a regular basis. Healthy habits should include no smoking, monitoring alcohol usage, avoiding fatty foods and encouraging physical and social activity when appropriate. Stroke caregivers should also watch the patient for signs of depression which can delay the recovery process. If depressive symptoms are noticed, the caregiver should speak to the patient’s physician.
Caregivers may be faced with new challenges in their life, including financial issues if the stroke patient loses funds from no longer being able to work and the juggling of new responsibilities on top of regular commitments. Uncertainty about the patient’s condition will add additional stress to the caregiver’s life. It is important that the caretaker reach out to family members, neighbors and professionals, such as senior care consultants, for additional support to help lessen their stress. Support groups may also be helpful in learning about other’s experiences and to gain educational education. Family caregivers are important in the overall recovery of their loved ones but should not ignore their own needs. There are many helpful resources and associations available for education and support. Remember that you are not alone. There is help available for you.
For more information or help finding a support group, please call Abramson Care Advisors free at 215-371-3400. An experienced senior care advisor is available to help you 24 hours a day, seven days a week.