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How should I care for a loved one who has had a stroke?

If a relative, spouse, or a close friend has had a stroke, you are affected, too. You miss the person's companionship and worry about his or her well-being. But you have a vital role to play in the person's recovery. You may need to offer practical help with the person's care, and you will certainly need to be supportive when your loved one's spirits fall. Your encouragement can make the crucial difference between rehabilitation results that are mediocre and results that are successful. When you step in to help, keep the following hints in mind:
  • Take care of yourself by eating well, getting enough rest, and taking time to do things that you enjoy. Don't be afraid to ask for help from other family members and friends or to hire some help if you can.
  • Make everyone's life easier by learning about and providing assistive devices that will help your loved one do as much alone as possible.
  • Take advantage of support groups and other resources for caregivers.
  • Learn as much as you can about stroke and rehabilitation.
  • Support your loved one's efforts to participate in decisions about rehabilitation.
  • If your loved one has trouble communicating, ask your doctor or a speech therapist for advice. For example, speaking slowly and allowing plenty of time for a response can help. So can using pictures, photographs, gestures and sounds, or computerized communication devices.
  • Ask to attend some of the rehabilitation sessions to learn how the program works. Make sure the staff suggests activities that fit your loved one's needs and interests.
  • Encourage and help your loved one practice the skills learned in rehabilitation.
  • Find out what your loved one can do on his or her own, what he or she needs help with, and what he or she can't do at all. Then try not to do tasks that you know your loved one can do without your help.
  • Consider adult day care. A local adult day care program can be a good option if your loved one is living at home but has some degree of mental impairment. Adult day care can help give a few hours respite to a relative who is caring for a stroke patient at home. It would not be suitable for someone who is relatively self-sufficient.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.