Each year, more than 795,000 people in the US experience a stroke. After stroke, patients often have different forms of disabilities and functional impairments that require special attention and support. This leaves the caregiver with many responsibilities, which can be confusing and overwhelming. This is because different kinds of strokes result in different sets of health conditions, and a patient’s needs change throughout their recovery journey.
Here are some considerations to keep in mind:
Mobility - After a stroke, patients have some form of weakness or loss of function. Many are unable to move one side of their body, so they will need assistance with activities of daily living. Foster a healthy balance between supporting them and encouraging them to be independent so they do not lose their sense of control entirely, which can trigger frustrations.
Safety - A stroke may cause problems with mental abilities, such as decision-making, awareness, attention, and memory. Patients may have difficulty knowing what is harmful to them, so one of the caregiver's responsibilities is to ensure they are safe at all times.
Many post-stroke patient injuries are caused by a fall, so always make sure the call bell or button is within easy reach. Keep the wheels of the bed locked. It also helps to remove clutter blocking walkways. If the patient can get out of bed on their own, make sure they have slippers or anti-slip socks on. Ensure that the patient has slip-resistant mats in their bathroom, too.
Use of Assistive Devices - During a stroke patient’s rehabilitation, they will be taught how to use assistive devices. As a caregiver, you can help the patient get used to using special equipment to compensate for their disabilities.
Bath transfer chairs, for example, help a patient get in and out of the bathtub safely. Alternatively, you can use a shower chair if the bathtub is too tiring for them to use. The patient can sit on the shower chair as you help them bathe. Give the patient a long-handled scrubber for washing their body and legs, and assist them to clean areas they cannot reach.
Sock, bra, shoe, button, and zipper aides can help patients change clothes independently. Keep canes or crutches within easy reach, too. If they use a wheelchair, always lock the wheels before helping them move to and from bed, or the wheelchair can slide out of position during the transfer and cause an accident.
Emotional Effects - A stroke can cause many different losses of bodily functions, which a patient can find distressing and frustrating. Major lifestyle changes are required to help them recover. These demands may prove to be highly stressful to a once able-bodied individual and strain their spirit. Your compassion and patience will go a long way in keeping the patient motivated to regain their bodily function.
Nutrition - After a stroke, a patient will need the right kinds of food to hasten their recovery. Serving healthy foods can help control blood pressure, maintain an optimum weight, and ultimately reduce a patient's risk of another stroke. The right nutrients from food also strengthen the body's immune system and can prevent stroke patients from getting infections.
The usual diet for post-stroke patients should consist primarily of vegetable dishes and fruits, with protein coming mainly from fish, nuts, and legumes. They also need a diet low in salt, fat, and bad cholesterol.
A patient recovering from stroke will have varying needs, and caregivers must work closely with the healthcare team to deliver the best care. It is important to stick to the care plan and report any challenges encountered during care procedures.
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