Being a caregiver can be overwhelming because not only do caregivers continue to fulfill their role in the family, they also have to care for the survivor and take on that person’s role as well.
Being a caregiver for someone dealing with a stroke is challenging, but these 10 tips can help you identify and handle common issues as you care for your loved one:
1. Ask a Doctor.Be aware of your loved one’s medications and their side effects. Find out if your home should be modified to meet the needs of the stroke survivor. Ask a doctor, nurse or therapist to answer your questions about what to expect.
2. Reduce risks to prevent another stroke. Survivors are at high risk of having another stroke. Make sure your loved one eats a healthy diet, exercises, takes medications as prescribed and visits their healthcare provider regularly.
3. Many factors influence recovery: where in the brain the stroke occurred; how much of the brain was affected, the survivor’s motivation; caregiver support; the quantity and quality of rehabilitation; and the survivor’s health before the stroke.
4. Gains can happen quickly or over time.The most rapid recovery usually occurs during the first three to four months after a stroke, but some survivors continue to recover well into the first and second year after their stroke.
5. Physical therapy.Caregivers should consider assistance from a physical or occupational therapist if their loved one has: dizziness; imbalance that results in falls; difficulty walking or moving around daily; inability to walk six minutes without stopping to rest; inability to participate in or complete daily activities.
6. Don’t ignore falls. Falls after stroke are common. If a fall is serious and results in severe pain, bruising or bleeding, take your loved one to the emergency room. If your loved one has minor falls more than two times within six months, see your physician or physical therapist for treatment.
7. Measuring progress. How much acute rehabilitation therapy your loved one receives depends partly on the rate of improvement. Survivors in acute rehabilitation are expected to make measurable functional gains every week based on the Functional Independence Measure Score (FIMS).
8. Monitor changes in attitude and behavior. Evaluate whether your loved one is having a hard time controlling emotions. Consult a healthcare provider to develop a plan of action.
9. Know when to need help. If rehabilitation services are denied due to lack of “medical necessity,” ask your loved one’s healthcare provider to provide records to the insurance carrier and, if necessary, call the insurance company.
10. Know your rights.You have access to your loved one’s medical and rehabilitation records, including written notes and brain imaging films.