Caring for Someone Who Has Had a Stroke

Caring for Someone Who Has Suffered a Stroke

Caring for a loved one after any medical event can be a big adjustment.

At the same time, caregiving for someone who has had a stroke can be immensely rewarding. You may feel closer and rewarded by your ability to help your family member or friend in a time of need. 

As emotionally satisfying as it can be to know you’re helping a loved one on the road to recovery, it can be equally exhausting. The emotional stressors can feel overwhelming and even affect other aspects of your life. The result is often neglect of your own physical and mental well-being.

Caring for yourself during this time may seem easier said than done.

But you can do a number of things to stay mentally and physically strong during this stressful time:

Get the support you need.

It’s important to know that your feelings of guilt and frustration are a normal part of the caregiving process. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Get counseling or join a support group — whatever feels right for you. Just remember: You should never feel as if you have to go through this alone. If there aren’t support groups in your area, or getting to one is too difficult, you can connect with others online.

Ask friends and family for help.

It’s OK to ask those around you for help. Reach out to family members and friends to see whether they’re willing to help by running errands, cooking dinner or doing other things on your growing to-do list. 

And when you need it, take a break. Ask others to step in and help so you can take time to care for yourself.

Stay on top of your own health.

The job you’ve taken on is an important and honorable one, and you can’t afford to get sick.

Try to both eat healthy and make time for exercise. You’ll not only feel better after some physical activity, but you’ll also boost your energy levels and your mental health.

Make getting a good night’s sleep a top priority.

You’ll do your heart a favor and feel refreshed and better able to tackle the day. Adults should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night.

Don’t neglect your health checkups.

When you’re reminding the person you’re caring for about an upcoming health care appointment, remember to schedule your own checkups.

Schedule “me time.”

How are you supposed to take care of someone else if your own mental or emotional well-being is in decline? It’s important to take time for yourself. Try a yoga class, learn to meditate, watch a funny movie or treat yourself to a spa day. Whatever form of relaxation you prefer, learn to make it a regular priority so you don’t burn out.

Find the humor.

Laughter is truly the best medicine, right? Take time every day to watch or do something that makes you laugh. This could mean watching funny videos, listening to a comedian, or whatever gets you giggling. Share your funny experience with someone else for extra bonding.

Acknowledge your emotions.

While caring for a loved one who’s had a stroke, you may feel stressed, sad, mad or other emotions. It’s all a normal part of the process. Talk about what you’re going through with trusted friends or family. If you feel overwhelmed or think you are depressed, reach out to a mental health professional for help.

Reach out for help with those in the know about stroke care.

The American Stroke Association has a link to help you find local support groups (either in person or online) that are geared toward stroke survivors and their caregivers. The American Heart Association’s Support Network also has an online forum to discuss stroke and connect with other caregivers. 

Last but not least, the American Stroke Association Warmline connects stroke survivors, their family members and caregivers with a team member who can provide support, resources and comfort.