When your loved one has a stroke, a million questions run through your mind. You may be wondering about their recovery and what their new needs will be going forward. You might also be concerned about how to take on a new role as their caregiver.
While caregiving can be difficult, education is key. When you have the right information in your hands, this role can be empowering rather than completely overwhelming. In fact, many people report that their role as a caregiver has given them a new appreciation for life, and that they feel positive that they can make a difference for their loved one.
Keep in mind that as much as you may find your new role equal parts rewarding and challenging, don’t forget yourself in the mix. You need to care for yourself as well. Don’t feel obligated to do it all yourself — we can help. If you’re looking for home healthcare in Fort Collins, contact Evergreen today.
In the meantime, here are some tips for caring for your loved one after a stroke.
Knowledge is power. One of the biggest challenges of caregiving is how much there is to learn. Immediately begin researching everything that you can about strokes, as well as the specific condition and prognosis of your loved one. Ask the hospital for resources for support groups to help you build a community of informed allies. Form relationships with every member of your loved one’s care team so you can do the best job possible as their caregiver.
Assess Your Finances
Your insurance will most likely cover most hospitalization and rehabilitation costs, but there may be limits on which providers can be covered. Be sure to verify exactly what is and isn’t covered by your health insurance policy. Then you can determine what you will need to pay out of pocket. Also keep in mind that your insurance may change or completely stop your coverage if your loved one’s condition changes. Work with a social worker at the hospital to help you navigate these options.
You can help your loved one enormously by attending the first few rehabilitation therapy sessions. This shows your support and also gives you the opportunity to learn about what skills they are developing. However, make sure not to over-involve yourself. Be supportive, but let your loved one do things on their own. This will help empower them and become more confident in their abilities.
Prepare the Home
The occupational therapist should help you to make the home safer by providing suggestions. You may have to move the bedroom to a different floor, move throw rugs to prevent tripping, and put grab bars and seats in the bathroom.
Mind Mood Changes
It’s typical for people who experience strokes to experience a wide range of emotions. It’s important to provide a listening ear and plenty of empathy. While it’s difficult to watch someone you love suffer, it’s important for them to process their grief over their losses. Don’t try to tell them to be positive or dismiss their emotions — let them feel what they feel.
Watch Out for Depression Symptoms
That being said, stroke survivors are at an exceptionally high risk for depression — around half will experience depression. This can have a huge impact on their recovery. If you notice signs of depression, be proactive about connecting your loved one to the resources they need for treatment.
Prioritize Your Physical Health
It’s easy to let your needs fall by the wayside when you’re a caregiver, but if you’re not in good physical health, you cannot be fully present for your loved one. Prioritize managing your stress and schedule relaxation into your day. Visit the doctor regularly. Find a form of exercise that makes you happy, and set aside time to cook healthy meals for yourself. Finally, sleep is very important, so make sure you’re getting at least seven hours a night.
Prioritize Your Emotional Health
It’s also common for caregivers to set aside their emotions for their loved one, but this isn’t healthy. Accept that you’re likely to feel frustration, anger, and sadness. These are normal responses to this event. Express them to trusted friends or a professional therapist so that you can fully feel them, then move on.
Learn to Accept Help
It can be difficult for caregivers to accept help when it’s offered, but you need it more than you know. When someone asks if they can help you, learn to say “yes.” Remember, they are offering because they care and they want to be there for you. You can prepare for this by writing down a list of the things you could use help with, whether it’s grocery shopping, house work, managing finances, or providing companionship to your loved one.
If you need additional support caring for your loved one, we can help with home healthcare in Fort Collins. Contact Evergreen Home Healthcare for compassionate caregivers.