15 Things Caregivers Need to Know after a Stroke.

These 15 tips will help you recognize and manage common issues when caring for your loved ones.

  1. It is better to know than to miss. Keep an eye on your loved one’s medication and side effects. Ask your home if it should be modified for stroke survivors. Talk to a doctor, nurse, or therapist about your expectations.
  2. Stroke may strike again – Reduce your risk. Survivors are at a very high risk of suffering another stroke. You need to make sure that your loved one is healthy, exercise regularly, and take prescribed medications.
  3. Recovery is influenced by many factors: where the stroke occurred, how severe the damage was, caregiver support, quality and quantity of rehabilitation, survivor’s health before the stroke.
  4. Gains may be quick or slow. However, some stroke survivors can continue their recovery well into the second and third years after their stroke.
  5. There are some signs that a person may need physical therapy.
  6. Do not ignore falls. Falls following strokes are common. Take your loved one to an emergency room if a fall causes severe pain, bleeding, or bruising. Your physician or physical therapist should be consulted if your loved one experiences minor falls more often than twice in six months.
  7. It is important to measure progress. The rate of improvement will determine how much treatment your loved one receives in acute rehabilitation. Based on the Functional Independence Score (FIMS), survivors in acute rehabilitation should make tangible, functional gains each week. Functional improvements can include daily mobility and communication skills. A typical rehabilitation goal is to improve 1-2 FIMS points each day.
  8. Services may be changed if someone’s abilities change. If your loved one has lost their physical function, Medicare may cover rehabilitation therapy. Eligibility changes may occur if your loved one’s motor skills, speech, or self-care have changed since the last time they were in therapy.
  9. Track changes in attitude or behaviour. Assess if your loved one has difficulty controlling their emotions. Discuss the matter with a healthcare provider.
  10. Avoid depression. Post-stroke depression can be a common condition. As many as 30% to 50% of stroke survivors are depressed during the first or second recovery phase. Your loved one’s rehabilitation and recovery can be affected by post-stroke depression. Talk to your healthcare provider about a plan of attack.
  11. Get support. Many resources are available to you and your loved ones, including stroke survivors and caregiver support groups.
  12. Find out the insurance coverage details. Talk to your loved one’s case manager, social worker, or healthcare provider to learn how long and how much insurance (private or government-supported) will cover hospitalizations. Also, determine out-of-pocket expenses. These can differ greatly from one person to the next.
  13. When to seek help. Ask your loved one’s doctor to give records to the insurance company. If necessary, call the insurance company.
  14. Understand your rights. You can access the medical and rehabilitation records, including written notes.
  15. Take care of yourself. Ask a friend, family member or neighbour to take care of you while you enjoy some time for yourself. Get enough rest, eat well, and exercise.

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