Stroke Rehabilitation - Concerns of the Caregiver
Taking care of a loved one who has had a stroke can be difficult for many reasons. You may be afraid that your loved one will have another stroke or will not be able to accept or overcome disabilities. You may worry that you are not prepared to care for someone who has just had a stroke. Or you may have your own health concerns that make it hard for you to care for another person. You may also become depressed over losing the lifestyle that you previously enjoyed with your loved one. And you may worry about the costs of rehabilitation (rehab) and a loss of income.
Before your loved one returns home, the rehab team will train you or other family members to help with therapy. You may learn to help your loved one get up from a fall, get dressed, get to the bathroom, eat, and do other activities. If you have your own health concerns that prevent you from being able to help, you may need in-home help, or your loved one may need to go to a nursing home or assisted-living facility. But even if you can't provide physical help, your love and support are still key to your loved one's recovery.
Here are ways that you can help with your loved one's recovery:
- Give support and encouragement for taking part in the rehab program.
- Visit and talk with your loved one often. Encourage your loved one to do activities, such as playing a game with you. Keep in touch with your loved one's friends as much as you can, and encourage them to visit.
- Participate in educational programs and attend rehab sessions as much as possible.
- Help your loved one learn and practice new skills.
- Find out what your loved one can do independently or needs help with. Avoid doing things for your loved one that he or she is able to do without help.
You will also need to take care of your own well-being.
- Eat well, get enough rest, and take time to do things that you enjoy. Get out of the house as much as possible.
- Make sure that you do not ignore your own health while you are caring for your loved one. Do not try to do everything yourself. Keep up with your own doctor visits and make sure to take your own medicines regularly. Ask other family members to help. Find out if you qualify for adult day care or for home health care visits to help with rehab.
- Locate a support group to attend. You can find them through local chapters of the American Stroke Association (a division of the American Heart Association) or the National Stroke Association. Also, check with the rehab team for ideas and help. They may be able to offer advice about insurance coverage as well.
- Schedule time for yourself. Get out of the house and do things that you enjoy, run errands, or go shopping.
For more information on caregiving, see the topic Caregiver Tips.
- Stroke: Should I Move My Loved One Into Long-Term Care?