Caring for Stroke
Caregivers must be patient with their loved ones and with themselves and know the signs of a stroke. The two major types of stroke are ischemic and hemorrhagic. To lessen the possibility of death and disability; the F.A.S.T. acronym is important:
F = Face: Is one side
of the face drooping down?
A = Arm: Can the person raise both arms, or is one arm weak?
S = Speech: Is speech slurred or confusing?
T = Time: Time is critical!! Call 9-1-1 immediately!
Types of Stroke
In an ischemic stroke, which accounts for 80 percent of all strokes, a blood vessel becomes blocked by a blood clot; a portion of the brain becomes deprived of oxygen and will stop functioning. When a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain bursts and spills blood into the brain, a portion of the brain is deprived of oxygen and stops functioning, resulting in a hemorrhagic stroke; this accounts for about 20 percent of strokes.Mini-strokes are Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs) and have the same symptoms as a major stroke. A blood clot blocks the flow of blood in the brain and breaks on its own; symptoms can disappear after a short period of time, however this can be a warning sign of a future stroke.
Stroke rehabilitation doesn’t reverse the stroke’s effects; it helps the individual return to independent living, aiming to build strength, capability and confidence.
Self-care skills such as feeding, grooming, bathing and dressing
Mobility skills such as transferring, walking or self-propelling a wheelchair
Communication skills in speech and language
Cognitive skills such as memory or problem solving
Social skills for interacting with other people
Caring for a stroke survivor can be emotionally, mentally and physically stressful. You should ask the doctor and healthcare team what the person will need at home, be it equipment (a cane, a walker); assistance with bathing, dressing, tending to personal needs; help with preparing meals and cooking; or financial management. Caregivers can support their loved one and encourage small accomplishments, which mean a lot to someone who has to relearn a once-mastered skill.
The Caregiver’s Role
Assist with doctor’s appointments, medications, and exercises
Manage financial matters and transportation
Provide the stroke survivor with physical, mental and emotional support
Assist the stroke survivor with daily activities such as personal care and hygiene
Plan out the stroke survivor’s care, including setting routines and managing the care team
Assess stroke survivor’s medical needs, communicate with healthcare professionals and advocate (medically) for the stroke survivor
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Janie Rosman is a Staff Writer for Today's Caregiver Magazine, caregiver.com and the Caregiver Newsletter. You can subscribe to the magazine or receive their free newsletter by going to caregiver.com and signing up.