Life After Stroke
There is the assurance of hope and life after a stroke. As time goes on, these changes you’re facing will become second nature, and a sense of normalcy will return. With the help of valuable stroke rehabilitation, strength, capability and confidence can be rebuilt.
Challenges can be overcome and independence can be achieved. Stroke recovery, at the very beginning of the journey, can appear overwhelming and unachievable. There are a lot of time sensitive, important decisions to be made and a lot of emotions and challenges ahead. However, the key to life after a stroke is to take one step at a time and celebrate all the small victories along your rehab journey.
Early stroke diagnosis and treatment
In the early stages of your stroke, your health care team will gather information, review the events that occurred and administer a series of diagnostic tests to make an accurate and informed diagnosis. They can then use this information to administer the correct procedure and/or medication to relieve the bleed or dissolve the clot in your brain.
It's essential for a stroke survivor to seek a clear understanding from your health care team about the precise location and cause of the stroke, as well as the treatment you received. This information plays a pivotal role in shaping your recovery journey and helps both you and your rehabilitation team in formulating the most effective and tailored supports.
By interpreting the specific damage to your brain, as well as the symptoms and difficulties you currently face, you can embark on a well-informed path towards successful recovery.
Stroke support from caregivers and family
As a caregiver, family member or friend of a stroke survivor, your role is vital in their recovery. Be creative and help them to customise their plan for recovery to suit their specific needs, as well as being persistent in their endeavour to recover. Become familiar with their prevention and rehabilitation plan, and help your loved one comply with it.
- Patience is going to be your biggest ally for you both during the recovery process. It’s important to be patient with your loved one in all aspects of life, and even more so during the recovery period. Act and communicate with patience; break all actions into small steps; demonstrate and repeat how to perform a task, even if it’s for the 50th time; and allow them time to respond.
Coping with post-stroke challenges
It’s inevitable that stroke recovery will be both mentally and physically challenging. However, it can also be extremely taxing on our emotions. There are a lot of uncertainties in your future and a lot of questions that are hard to answer. It’s important to focus on the things that you can control and take your recovery one day at a time.
Self-care after stroke
Some survivors live with the worry that another stroke will occur and that symptoms may persevere or even decline. It’s important to acknowledge the questions and fears that you have and process them as much as possible.
Allow yourself to feel all of your feelings. Give yourself permission to feel sad, angry, frustrated, anxious or whatever emotions come up. Allow yourself to feel it and then reflect on why that emotion came up. Acknowledging why we feel a certain way and how we can manage it can enable us to control our emotions more effectively and, in turn, reduce stress and anxiety. Practising gratitude journaling can help us learn to process our emotions.
Staying active is a great way to relieve stress and anxiety. This could include taking a walk, sitting out in the sunshine, listening to music or reading a book, doing a puzzle or anything that helps to take your mind off the emotions.
Find what makes you happy and brings you joy. Break up your day with small tasks and stay active doing the things you love. None of us are born with the ability to cope with challenges. The ups and downs of life help us to learn resilience and sometimes, uncertainty helps us find a new way to live and a new perspective on life.
How to be safe at home after suffering from a stroke
After a stroke and without the constant support from a professional care team, a survivor can be vulnerable to falls and injury in their own homes. There are precautions you, your loved ones or a caregiver can take at home to minimise any risks during recovery:
- Remove hazards and ensure a clear, uncluttered path to all frequently visited places within the home. Between bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living spaces you don’t want any obstacles that could cause falls.
- Adapt furniture and ensure it is arranged to allow for easy navigation. Check all the chairs are stable and easy to manoeuvre in and out of. Improving lighting around the home can help to aid visibility.
- Install assistive technology to help you with everyday living. Your occupational therapist will help you assess the need for apparatus such as handrails, non-slip mats, a raised toilet seat or a shower chair. Certain items can significantly enhance your mobility and independence around the home.
- A support system or a caregiver can regularly check on you or provide assistance, especially in the early stages of recovery. Keep emergency contact information readily available, including all your healthcare providers and family members.
- Maintain a healthy diet and stay hydrated. Dehydration and lack of necessary nutrients can exacerbate dizziness and confusion.
- Physical therapy exercises can improve your balance and coordination reducing your risk of falling. Follow your therapists guidelines on what and how often to practise.
Remember, each person’s needs and abilities are going to greatly vary after a stroke. It’s essential to work closely with your healthcare team to customise safety measures within your home to suit your specific needs. Allow yourself to gradually gain your independence but also don’t hesitate to ask for help when it is needed.
Reach out to Maple Community Services to find out what supports and care are available to you during your recovery.
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