Do you suddenly find yourself in a position where you need to provide stroke care? The day that you or your loved one is well enough to be discharged from the hospital is a day that should fill you with happiness.

Often, this is not the case. It is frequently a day filled with anxiety. This day marks the start of a new way of life for you and the stroke survivor. Particularly severe cases may require hourly care from a professional caregiver.

Stroke Survivors and Caregivers

On the part of the survivor, they will likely be very glad to be home. No more uncomfortable beds, total lack of privacy, less than stellar food, a near-constant stream of loud noises, and having blood taken at all hours of the day and night. In many cases, after hospital or rehab discharge, people feel a lot better being in the surroundings that are familiar and comfortable to them.

For the caregiver, particularly if that caregiver happens to be a close relative of the stroke survivor, you will feel happy that your loved one is medically stable enough to come home. But stroke care may also fill you with dread. You may feel incredibly fearful that you will be unable to properly take care of your loved ones and meet their needs.

The Struggles of Becoming a Caregiver

And here is the quiet part that is rarely said out loud – you may feel resentful at suddenly having to be a caregiver. You may feel burdened and angry that your life will change forever. And you may feel ashamed that you have these feelings.

We recommend that you do not share those feelings with the stroke survivor, as they undoubtedly feel immense guilt at causing such a major disruption to everyone’s life.

You can take steps to lessen the burden and stressful decision-making concerning their transition home. Knowledge and preparation are the keys to making this transition ad smooth ad possible for both caregiver and survivor.

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How to Prepare Your Home for a Stroke Survivor

Certain rooms of the house will need more attention than others. Certain spaces and rooms are more likely to cause falls because of slippery surfaces and small spaces. This hazard is typically the case concerning kitchens and bathrooms. Depending on your survivor’s unique needs after stroke treatment, modifications to their home may be necessary.

The best thing to do with home modifications is to have a home evaluation. This service generally involves a caseworker or occupational therapist trained in at-home care evaluations. They can tell you the changes or preparations needed to provide stroke treatment. 

If the hospital does not recommend this service, you can certainly ask your doctor or caseworker, and they will refer you to someone who can help. Doing this will help you feel a little less overwhelmed as you will not need to make the decisions regarding modifications to the home. Someone will tell you exactly what may require modification based on the survivor’s unique needs.

Invest in At-Home Following Stroke Treatment

You may want to investigate purchasing adaptive tools as well. The cost of certain items or modifications to your home may be eligible for insurance reimbursement. You’ll have to check with the survivor’s insurance company to verify.

A wonderful online store devoted to adaptive equipment for people with disabilities is The Wright Stuff. You can find almost anything on this website, from minor items like kitchen and writing utensils to bigger items such as shower chairs, ramps, and walkers.

If your loved one suffered a severe stroke, it might be worth looking into around-the-clock senior care.

How to Responsibly Communicate with a Stroke Survivor

Before we get into specific modifications that may need to happen at your home, let’s talk about how to go about speaking to the stroke survivor. Your language toward them needs to be very empathetic.

These survivors are feeling lots of awful things right now. They are scared, and they feel guilty about burdening people. They feel lost and devastated that their life has turned upside down in a short period. If the wrong thing is said to them, it can leave the stroke survivor feeling exponentially worse. They are very fragile right now.

They may feel extremely depressed once they realize that returning to work may not be an option (it, of course, may be an option). But that is key for others to understand– realizing that they will most likely be living the rest of their life in a disabled body takes some time.

A stroke survivor rarely realizes this immediately. It takes time, sometimes months of hourly care. Keep reading to learn our best stroke treatment tips for your loved one.

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Top 7 Stroke Care Dialogue Tips

  1. First and foremost, be patient with them! They need to re-learn many movements and functions. Please don’t add to their feelings of frustration by exhibiting impatience with them.
  2. Never say, “Do you know how much I’ve done for you?” This statement will dramatically increase the feelings of guilt that they are already feeling.
  3. They will likely need to sleep quite a lot. Extra sleep is very normal after a brain injury, and the fatigue can last years. It is not a sign of laziness.
  4. If they do not feel up to attending a social event, try not to make them feel bad about it.
  5. Please never say, “you’re lucky to be alive.” Many people who have lived through a stroke do not feel lucky to be alive, especially in the first months or even years.
  6. Don’t ever tell them they’re acting grumpy. Stroke survivors work through devasting emotions and deserve empathy.
  7. Provide love, caring, and support. Part of this is not consistently thinking that you need to do everything for them. They want to maintain a sense of independence as much as possible. Try to refrain from providing help unless they ask for it.

Top 10 Stroke Care Home Preparation Tips

So now, let’s get into some tips and common home modifications that may make the stroke survivor more comfortable and safer at home.

  1. Get a call bell with a pager that your loved one can use if they need help. 
  2. If the survivor is currently using a cane or walker and is coming home to a two-story house, it helps keep the assistive device on both home floors.
  3. Practice fall prevention at home. Clear all walkways of throw rugs that can lead to tripping.
  4. It is also a good idea to ensure walkways, halls, and other tight spaces are well-lit.
  5. Get a long-handled reacher/grabber tool.
  6. Cover up cords. Any loose cords and cables out in the open are big tripping hazards. Consider mounting these to the wall.
  7. Place all frequently used items (TV remotes, phones, and books) within easy reach of where the stroke survivor will be spending most of their downtime.
  8. You may need to rearrange furniture to make a room more spacious.
  9. It may help install house handrails, not just stairs, hallways, and other flat surfaces.
  10. Keep all medication in a convenient central location for ease of access.

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How to Reorganize Your Kitchen and Bathroom for Stroke Survivors

The kitchen and bathroom are the two main areas where people may fall if they have balance issues. Almost all people that recently had a stroke will have balance issues. So, what are some things that you can do to help?

Always assess the unique needs of your loved one and make decisions based on that. All strokes will cause different disabilities. Solutions that help one stroke survivor may hinder another. Please keep reading to learn our top 10 tips for at-home care for stroke survivors.

Top 10 Home Reorganization Tips for Stroke Survivors

  1. Reorganize the kitchen. Throw out any pots, pans, or utensils you don’t need. Try to keep it simple.
  2. Make sure there is good overhead lighting.
  3. Place all frequently used utensils and kitchen tools in a box on the counter within easy reach.
  4. Remove all mats that are not secured down. These are a tripping hazard.
  5. One-piece stove tops can be very helpful as they allow pots and pans to slide off the stove instead of being lifted. This appliance allows for easier and safer removal of hot items.
  6. Get an array of non-slip pads underneath plates, bowls, and cutting boards.
  7. Buy adaptive utensils such as rocker knives, forks, spoons with gripped handles, and adaptive plates with sections and lips. These can all minimize the risk of cuts and spills. 
  8. For a wheelchair user, modifications such as lower countertops will be helpful. Also, lowering the sink and removing the cabinet underneath will allow the wheelchair to slide right in for easy use of the sink.
  9. Another tip for the sink – uses a hands-free, automatic, or electronic touch faucet.
  10. Keep soap nearby to reduce extra trips into the bathroom to wash hands.

Be Patient With Your Stroke Survivor

These suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg when helping someone with stroke treatment. It’s a lifelong battle and an existential crisis for the survivor. The most important thing you can do as a caregiver is to have patience. Certain tasks will take the stroke survivor longer, or they may need to completely re-learn how to do something. You may find yourself repeating the same instructions over and over to the stroke survivor about how to perform something.

That’s frustrating. Anytime we must repeat ourselves over and over is frustrating. But please remember that you are dealing with someone who recently suffered an injury to the brain. The frustration you may feel sometimes is nothing compared to the rollercoaster of emotions you are dealing with now. 

If you have questions about taking care of a senior in your life, get in touch with us today!

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