How to Manage the Challenges of Caring for a Senior Stroke Survivor

The aftermath of a stroke can be traumatic, but the injured brain is resilient. Therefore, your senior loved one will likely recoup some functional loss, and there’s plenty you can do to expedite recovery. La Mesa home care experts at Coast Care Partners discuss a few ways family caregivers can manage the changes caused by stroke.

Ease Communication Difficulties

Stroke survivors with left-sided brain damage may have difficulty speaking, understanding speech, and using appropriate words. You may need to rely on nonverbal communication. Use hand gestures, point at objects, and take the help of visual aids such as pictures, alphabet boards, and charts. Also, try to follow routines. When your loved one can anticipate activities, there’s less need to communicate. When speech is necessary, keep your phrases short, and be patient while awaiting responses. 

Increase Home Safety

Provide ample space to navigate around furniture and through the home. Reduce fall risk by eliminating floor clutter and area rugs. To prevent falls on stairs, have your loved one use a bathroom and bedroom on the ground floor. In the bathroom, install grab bars on the walls and place a shower chair in the tub. Around the toilet, mount grab bars or safety railings. If the existing toilet is too low, add a raised one. 

Facilitate Mobility

If your loved one needs a walker, cane, or wheelchair, he or she must know how to use it properly. A physical therapist (PT) can adjust the device to comfort and teach safe use. If the PT has designed a home exercise program, urge your loved one to be compliant. Being active spurs the injured brain to forge new neural connections. After discharge from rehab, schedule appointments at a reputable physical therapy facility. If your loved one is housebound, arrange in-home visits with a PT agency. Continued work with a PT speeds the return of strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination. Try to attend a few sessions so you’re familiar with the treatment plan and rehab goals. 

Monitor Emotions

Your loved one is likely experiencing feelings such as anxiety, frustration, anger, and grief. If there is damage to the frontal lobe of your loved one’s brain, he or she may exhibit pseudobulbar affect (PBA), vacillating between sudden bouts of crying, anger, or laughter. If you observe PBA, contact the doctor. Medication can control PBA. Since depression hinders recovery, promptly schedule counseling if you see signs of despondency. Your loved one’s insurance provider or doctor can refer you to a mental health professional. For a spiritual senior, the kind ear and words of clergy may provide comfort and strength. Belonging to a stroke support group reduces frustration and isolation. For anxiety relief, help your loved one relax. Play calming music, socialize, and support hobbies he or she enjoys. 

Promote Independence

Injured brain areas recover through persistent work at challenging tasks. A PT can gauge the extent of post-stroke capabilities. To know what’s realistic for your loved one, ask for an assessment and guidance with how much to assist. Encourage your loved one to practice the skills learned in rehab, then celebrate every step of improvement. Acknowledging progress may raise your loved one’s self-esteem, and each success may fuel determination. If your loved one gets discouraged, advise that most recovery occurs during the first six months post-stroke. Therefore, effort is crucial during this window of opportunity. Some stroke survivors continue making gains for an additional one to two years. For specific ways to facilitate daily activities, consult with an occupational therapist (OT). For example, an OT can show you how to manage impaired swallowing, loss of peripheral vision, one-side neglect, and safe transfers.

Prevent Burnout

Protect yourself from mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion by ensuring your needs are met. Sustain your stamina with healthy food, fun exercise, relaxation, and adequate sleep. Take time for your personal interests, and find daily opportunities to laugh. Avoid shouldering responsibilities alone by requesting help from friends and family, and consider hiring a La Mesa, CA, caregiver. Make a list of tasks and divide them up, rotating the most difficult ones. For management strategies, join a caregiver support group. Try to maintain balance between caring for your loved one, immediate family, and yourself. 

If your elderly loved one is recovering from a stroke and you need additional help managing his or her care needs, get in touch with Coast Care Partners today. Our caregivers are available around the clock to assist with a wide array of tasks, including medication reminders, nutritious meal preparation, and bathing. Call 619-354-2544 today to learn how our top-rated in-home care services can help your family.