Caring for someone who has had a stroke
A stroke has been likened to a heart attack which happens to the brain. One of the scariest things about a stroke is that it can happen to anyone – young and old.
In many other emergency situations, a person is able to recover fairly well in the short-term and resume a fairly normal lifestyle. Behavioural and physical changes aren’t always extreme enough to impact each and every aspect of a person’s daily existence.
Stroke survivors experience dramatic change to their existence. It quite literally turns their world upside down and inside out, and it can feel like they are utterly helpless. The impact affects a stroke survivor’s loved ones too. The domino effect can be devastating at first. It can feel like everything has changed completely in the blink of an eye.
If a loved one has suffered a stroke, the most important thing that you can do for them is to ensure that they never need to have any doubt that you care for and love them. The nature of damage a stroke causes can leave a person feeling very isolated and alone. Physical impairments are not the only effect that can leave a survivor feeling helpless. It can be intensely draining on a person’s emotions and mental frame of mind too. Rehabilitation is intense and it is all-consuming for a survivor. Every second of every day will require them to be able to focus on recovery and improving their impaired state. It is a taxing process.
The first time you see your loved one following a stroke, it is bound to leave you feeling emotional and apprehensive about what to do and say (or not to do and say). It can be difficult for a loved one to deal with too. You may feel confused and worry about becoming a burden to your loved one in just the same way they themselves may worry.
It’s important to remember that every little bit of support you offer that shows love and care will make an enormous difference to their recovery process. Be there. Taking care of an errand, doing a little grocery shopping, handling the payment of a bill, feeding the dog or putting on a little music to improve the mood of a household can do wonders for helping a survivor and their families.
A little goes a long way in helping a survivor feel that they are not forgotten and reminds them that they deserve a sense of purpose. This is crucial for recovery.
A stroke is no joke and should never be made light of either. It’s easy for various things to be made into a joke as a means of adjusting and learning to cope. Try not to do this. A sense of humour can be applied to other things in life and can be a healthy coping mechanism in less direct ways. It’s good to find ways to laugh and instill joy in daily life again, but not at the expense of a stroke survivor.
A blame game is also a nasty cycle which will not help things along. A stroke survivor has likely learned a very hard lesson. It may very well be down to previous shortcomings, like smoking, that caused the stroke. Highlighting shortcomings isn’t likely to inject positivity into the healing process, for anyone. A stroke survivor is not likely to need a reminder either. Rather find ways to live healthier for yourself and your loved one. Everyone stands to gain from that.