For Caregivers of Stroke Victims

Caring for a loved one who has experienced a stroke takes a great deal of patience and organization in order to keep your loved one healthy. But you need to take care of your own health, too. You will have much to do, and you owe it to yourself and your loved one to stay well. 

As the American Stroke Association points out, a caregiver may be responsible for a wide variety of responsibilities, including:

  • Providing physical help with mobility and personal care
  • Transporting the stroke patient to many medical appointments
  • Managing financial, legal, tax, and business affairs
  • Managing the household and preparing meals
  • Monitoring the taking of medication
  • Helping the stroke patient with rehab activities outside of rehab times
  • Helping the loved one maintain a positive attitude and hope for continued improvement
  • Providing emotional support to the stroke patient and other loved ones impacted, while dealing with the patient’s likely emotional mood swings 

This is a daunting list, and no caregiver should expect to take on this herculean task alone. There are services that can help with some of these responsibilities, as well as friends and loved ones who will likely be willing to pitch in, with you as the primary caregiver managing the others. 

Making caregiving easier

To make it easier for you to care for your loved one, look at each task or each category of tasks and think about how you can make the process more efficient and what services or individuals can help. Below are some suggestions. 

One simple way to manage the taking of medication is to make a clear list, with the names of medications, the quantity to take, when they should be taken, and what they are for. Post this list in a prominent place for all helpers to see – and the patient, if he or she is able to read and process accurately – and use a pill box divided by days, periods of the day such as morning, noon, and night, or even broken down by the hour, if necessary. 

Look into home healthcare services to help with some personal care, or enlist other loved ones to commit to helping at certain times of the day. Home health services can be expensive, but you may be able to get financial help from the patient’s insurance carrier or local social services. The hospital should also be able to direct you toward patient advocacy organizations. 

Several charitable food services are available that can help with meals, such as Meals on Wheels. You should also enlist the help of family and friends. For instance, if you’re caring for your mother and you have several siblings, each sibling could take a day of the week and always cook meals for Mom on that day. Or each sibling could provide food for one week each month. This spreads the load and gives each sibling an opportunity to serve Mom after years of her service to you. 

Create a single location, perhaps a binder or box, for all of your loved one’s important medical and financial information. This would include a will, living will, medical power of attorney, insurance (health, life, other), and all critical phone numbers (doctors, lawyer, etc.). Various medical advocacy groups provide help in managing financial and medical issues after a stroke. For instance, the American Stroke Association provides a guide called Finances after Stroke that will walk you through Social Security benefits, patient advocacy, and help with prescription costs. 

Create a list of daily activities and responsibilities so that when you switch with someone else, the person will know exactly what to do and when.

Sometimes stroke damages the part of the brain that manages emotions. This can be the most difficult challenge for a caregiver. You may need to receive training on how to handle these emotions and how to encourage your loved one without becoming emotionally upset yourself. Again, there is help through a variety of organizations, such as the Family Caregiver Alliance, that can provide you with training and support. 

Caring for yourself

Please don’t forget to care for yourself. You need to give yourself time away from your loved one, providing yourself with physical, emotional, interpersonal, and spiritual support so that you can remain healthy and continue to be of help to your loved one. You will be no help at all if you burn out. 

Therefore, eat a healthy diet, get adequate sleep, maintain an exercise regimen, and enjoy activities separate from your work with the stroke victim. This may mean getting together with friends and engaging in hobbies that make you happy and get your mind off of your stroke-injured loved one. 

Since 25% of strokes are repeat strokes, you’ll also want the peace of mind to know immediately if your loved one begins to have another stroke. At Neuralert, we are committed to decreasing the devastating effects of stroke with our state-of-the-art, AI-driven wristbands that look like a smartwatch and can detect warning signs of a stroke within minutes. 

Early stroke treatment saves lives and can often prevent or limit long-term side effects. Ask your healthcare providers about adding Neuralert stroke detection wristbands to your loved one’s overall stroke recovery and prevention plan.