Suffering a stroke is a life-changing experience for anyone. In an instant, they find themselves in a helpless situation. And it can also be a challenge caring for recovering stroke patients. As such, providers of hospice care services have created a guide on how you can care for and help your loved ones come back from this condition.
Understanding What Happens After A Stroke
A stroke happens when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain gets blocked or ruptured. Because of this, the brain starves and its cells start to die. When not immediately treated, it can lead to fatality. The condition is the fifth leading cause of death among Americans.
However, even if the patient survives the condition, it can cause significant impairment. The body cannot replace the damaged or dead brain cells. That results in the loss of various bodily functions. The effects of a stroke can vary depending on where in the brain it occurs.
Stroke In The Cerebrum
The cerebrum is the largest part of the brain, which controls many functions like movement, speech, thinking and reasoning, memory, and vision. A stroke in this region can lead to impairment in these functions. Additionally, it can result in impairment in the following areas.
- Eating and swallowing
- Perception and orientation in the surroundings
- Self-care ability
- Bowel and bladder control
- Emotional control
- Sexual activities
There are also more specific symptoms that can show up, depending on whether the stroke happened in the left or right hemisphere of the brain. Doctors use this to diagnose the location of the stroke and determine a care regimen.
Stroke In The Cerebellum
The cerebellum is the smaller region below the cerebrum. It receives sensory information and coordinates muscle movement, control, and balance. A stroke in this region can lead to the following symptoms.
- Inability to walk
- Ataxia, or issues with balance and coordination
- Nausea and vomiting
It is worth noting that strokes are less common in cerebellum. However, these effects can be severe. These can also significantly affect patients’ quality of life.
Stroke In The Brainstem
The brainstem is found at the base of the brain and connects to the spinal cord. It controls various life support functions, such as heartbeat, blood pressure, breathing, and body temperature control.
Because of its nature, strokes in the brainstem can be extremely dangerous. If not treated immediately, it can lead to a coma. The situation also has the highest possibility of death among the different cases.
How To Care For A Stroke Patient
The type of stroke your loved ones have gone through and the effects they are showing will be the most significant determining factor in the care they will need. Thus, educate yourself more here. Consult with doctors to better understand what your loved ones are experiencing and determine what they best need.
You would also want to talk with health care services early. Even if you plan on caring for your loved ones on your own, their advice would be helpful. These providers can also guide you to more information sources you can use.
Assessing Your Loved One’s Needs
As part of your care preparations, assess the needs your recovering loved ones have. Some of the things you should address at this point include:
- Their care needs
- Healthcare needs like medicines, doctor appointments, and rehabilitation schedules.
- Financial requirements and insurance coverages
- Therapy requirements to increase bodily functions
You would want to settle all of these concerns before your loved one gets discharged from the hospital. That way, they can settle into the home care regimen more easily.
The first task you need to do is manage the medications that your loved ones need to take. Depending on the type and severity of the stroke, doctors might prescribe a combination of the following
- Anticoagulants: These drugs lessen the blood’s ability to clot, reducing the risk of future blockages.
- Antiplatelet drugs: Similar to anticoagulants, these also help lessen blood clots. They do that by halting the platelets’ ability to stick together.
- Tissue plasminogen activator: This is an emergency medication given during a stroke. It helps quickly break up clots to lessen the risk of complications.
- Statins: These drugs help lower your blood cholesterol levels, lessening plaque formation within blood vessels.
- Blood pressure drugs: Such medications lower the blood pressure, preventing a sudden surge that can burst blood vessels.
Depending on your loved one’s conditions, doctors may prescribe additional medicines for dealing with specific symptoms.
One thing to note is that doctors often prescribe these medications for life. Hence, you need to diligently monitor your loved one’s intake to ensure they take these religiously. Write down any side effects they might be experiencing. Doctors use this information to adjust the dosages of the medicines.
Assisting In The Rehabilitation Process
The other significant recovery area for stroke patients is in the rehabilitation process. Here, the goal is to help them recover at least some functionality in their bodies. Rehabilitation programs typically focus on these four key areas.
- Physical therapy: A physical therapist will help your loved one regain their muscle tone and motor functions to help them move more normally.
- Speech therapy: Aside from helping patients resolve speech impairments, therapists can help them find new ways to communicate.
- Cognitive therapy: An occupational therapist will help your loved one regain their former behavioral patterns and control their emotions.
- Relearning sensory skills: After a stroke, patients may find their senses weakened or no longer working. The therapist will help them adjust to this lack of sensation.
Going through these rehabilitation therapies can be taxing to a stroke patient. Thus, you need to be there and ease the burden they feel. Giving them words of encouragement and participating in the rehab exercises yourself will get them moving more.
On the other hand, you also want to give them some form of independence. Stroke patients can sometimes feel useless. However well-intentioned, jumping into every situation to assist them can aggravate this sentiment. Instead, you would want to be there simply to watch over them. Don’t offer assistance unless it is necessary or they request it. That helps them regain their confidence, aiding in faster recovery.
Handling Mood And Behavior
A particularly challenging aspect of caring for stroke survivors is getting along with them. As mentioned above, they can have significant behavioral changes. And while you might already understand it, it can still be a tough time.
Thus, you should be more emphatic and sympathetic to their situation. Remember that they do not want to be in this state. So be ready to listen to them when they share their feelings with you. On the other hand, you need to be firm but gentle in dealing with their outbursts. That will help them get a sense of boundaries and bring everything in control again.
Get Help From The Best Hospice Care Services
Recovering from a stroke can take anywhere from a few months to a few years. But with the right help, you can guide your loved ones in the right direction. Contact Amavi today and we will give you the best hospice care services your loved ones will need.