Caring for Post-Stroke Clients
A stroke is a severe medical emergency that restricts the blood supply to the brain. This, in addition to a lack of oxygen and nutrients, can cause brain cells to die. Survivors experience various conditions from paralysis, speech issues, emotional instability, depression, and much more. Care for these conditions is essential, and caregivers often have the difficult duty of caring for survivors through their long recovery.
There are various rehabilitation methods and therapies involved in the recovery process, and caregivers work with them outside of these therapies to maintain some form of independence at home. The most important step a caregiver can take in the recovery process is educating themselves on the specifics of their client’s stroke and in researching the recovery process.
Be prepared for a lot of changes; physical, mental, and emotional changes are all expected after a stroke. Below are some tips to help in the stroke recovery process for caregivers and family members, and some can reduce the risk of future strokes.
Post-Stroke Care Tips
The recovery timeline for stroke survivors is long, and it’s essential to work with them throughout the process. No two strokes are the same, so be sure to ask for help when you aren’t sure of what to do or when you need additional help or support.
Daily Rehabilitation Exercise
The addition of daily exercise into your post-stroke recovery routine makes a big difference. Since the reduction of motor skills is common with stroke, daily movement can help retrain the brain and reduce the chance of a recurrent stroke. With exercise, you’ll boost your recovery time, build strength, and improve your balance too. Some practical exercises to include:
- Wrist Curls – Benefit forearm strength and improve your ability to grip items.
- Sit to Stands – Great for improving your mobility. It can also improve your balance and strength in your legs and core.
- Hip Abduction – Can strengthen the muscles in your legs, back, core, and hips while promoting better coordination and balance.
Monitor Emotional or Behavioral Shifts
A stroke can cause significant damage to the brain. Irritability, confusion, forgetfulness, depression, anxiety, mood swings, and personality changes can all result from post-stroke symptoms. As a practice, do not force demands upon your client or loved one in addition to learning to redirect anger/frustration, be understanding and accommodating, and if necessary, pursue medications for depression and anxiety.
Consult With Social Workers
Social workers work with you directly to understand the options available for recovery. They guide you through the process of determining where is best for you to recover, how insurance covers your rehabilitation, and what modifications you can make to your home to reduce the risk of falls.
Understand Medication Side Effects
After a stroke, a survivor will more than likely get prescribed on several medications. As a caregiver or family member, it’s important to keep track of the medications, what each one does, and what the potential side effects of each one are.
Take Falls Seriously
Since a stroke can affect motor skills, falls become extremely dangerous. In addition, in unsupervised situations, a stroke survivor may not be able to get back up from the floor. It’s essential after a fall to check with a doctor immediately, as falls can cause fractures and reduce mobility moving forward. As a precaution or response, you should consider making adjustments to your home, like slip mats or handrails, to assist in mobility around the house.
Join Support Groups
For both patients and caregivers, support groups provide an excellent way for people to meet with other stroke survivors or caregivers. These support groups are a great way to get advice for care techniques, dealing with specific situations, or sharing experiences.
Organize Medical Documents
As a caregiver, it’s imperative to keep track of everything related to your client’s or loved one’s recovery. Keep track of all medications they take, any side effects, and noticeable changes to their emotions or behavior.
Support Them During the Emotional Recovery Process
Anxiety, depression, mood swings, and other emotional changes are common after a stroke. In some cases, patients may develop neurological conditions like the Pseudobulbar Affect, which causes reflex crying, sudden laughter, or involuntary emotional expression. For the patient, this time can be difficult for them to understand and work through. It’s important during this time for caregivers, family, and friends to be helpful, understanding, and accommodating throughout the process of regaining emotional stability.
Manage Stroke Risks
According to the American Stroke Association, 1 in 4 stroke survivors has another stroke. However, there are ways to reduce the risk of recurrent strokes, such as managing high blood pressure, sticking with the daily exercise, improving your diet, losing weight, managing diabetes, and much more. The best way to manage your stroke risks is to talk with a doctor about which risks most readily apply to you, and allow a loved one or caregiver to make necessary changes to your daily life.
Measure Recovery Progress
For the patient, it can be beneficial for recovery to see that they are making progress. Recovery is a long process, and it can be easy to get discouraged. Keeping track of achievements like distance, equipment needed to move, improved speech, and more all show your loved one or client that improvements are being made.
Understand Insurance Coverage
Be sure to take the time to understand how long insurance covers post-stroke services. The time insurance covers may vary. Since all insurances and patients are different, coverage can vary depending on the severity of the stroke. If the stroke survivor experiences a loss in physical abilities like motor skills or speech, they may be eligible for more coverage or benefits. Take the time to work out the specifics of your case; It’s essential to check what rehabilitation services and therapies your insurance covers.
Seek Additional Help
You may reach a point where you need additional help. Be sure to reach out to your healthcare provider and insurance about additional rehabilitation and treatments for dealing with the recovery process.
Understand Your Rights
In addition to keeping track of all documentation, your rights entitle you to access medical records, rehab records, written notes, and imaging films related to the stroke.
Take Care of Yourself
Burnout is common among caregivers, so it’s important to learn the signs of burnout. Be sure to take time for yourself to recharge, as you need to maintain your mental and physical health to maintain effective care for your loved one or client. Click here to learn how to better manage the stressors that come with caring for others.
How JEVS Helps In-Home Caregivers With Stroke Clients
At JEVS, we strive to provide our caregivers with the tools, resources, and support they need to provide the best care possible for their clients. We know the stroke recovery process is long and complex. We work with you throughout the process to make sure you meet both you and your client’s needs. We stand by our caregivers to ensure they aren’t alone, and we aim to support them with the necessary training and support they need.