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    First Steps for Caregivers continued...

    Look into insurance coverage and assess your finances. Medicare and/or health insurance will cover most of the hospitalization and rehabilitation expenses. However, there may be restrictions on which facilities and providers are covered. So be sure to find out exactly what is covered and what out-of-pocket payments may be needed. Also remember that as your loved one gains abilities or is no longer progressing, coverage may change or stop. The hospital's social service department or a case manager can help you negotiate the often complex world of insurance and explore other options should you need additional aid.

    Participate in stroke rehabilitation. Attend a few therapy sessions so that you can support your loved one during stroke recovery. Encourage the stroke survivor to practice new skills, but don't always jump in to help. "Don't do too much," Fermental says. "Be supportive, and allow survivors to do things for themselves." Even small accomplishments will help your loved one become more self-reliant and confident.

    Assess your loved one's needs as well as your ability to meet them. The stroke survivor's health care team can help you determine what kind of help will be needed. Caregivers often need to:

    • provide personal care such as bathing and dressing
    • coordinate health care needs including medications and doctor and rehab appointments
    • manage finances and insurance coverage
    • help the survivor maintain and increase his or her ability to function

    Remember that you can't do everything. Try to be realistic with yourself about what you can take on and what you may need help with.

    Coming Home After a Stroke

    Once your loved one leaves the hospital, the reality of the situation may begin to sink in for both of you. Here are some things to consider as you take on your new roles.

    Consider safety. Ask the occupational therapist if you need to do anything to make the home safer. You may need to move the bedroom to another floor to avoid stairs, get rid of throw rugs to help prevent falls, or put grab bars and seats in the bathroom and shower.

    Recovery Tips

    See key ways to help regain the use of your arm after a stroke.
    View slideshow