To help someone who had a stroke, use these 5 tips to provide extra support.
1. Know What’s Going On
If you don’t know what a stroke is, then education is the first step.
A stroke occurs when an artery supplying blood to the brain becomes completely blocked by a clot (ischemic stroke) or bursts (hemorrhagic stroke), resulting in damaged or destroyed brain cells.
Every stroke is different depending on the size, duration, and area of the brain that was affected. This means that everyone will recover differently, too.
Some of our best resources on stroke recovery are:
- How to Recover from Stroke: An Unconventional Step by Step Guide
- 5 Mistakes to Avoid during Rehab after Stroke
- Post Stroke Side Effects Explained
These are great articles for both caregivers and survivors.
2. Foster New Communication
Sometimes a disorder known as aphasia occurs post-stroke, where speech becomes impaired. Depending on the severity level of aphasia, it may be difficult for a stroke survivor to find the right words to say or understand what you’re trying to communicate.
If your survivor has trouble speaking, you may want to recommend singing therapy – it’s an overlooked, yet highly effective, form of speech therapy.
Please note that aphasia does not mean that a stroke survivor has lost his or her intelligence. It simply means that he/she has lost the ability to find the right words. If you can remember that, then you can interact with grace.
When your survivor has trouble understanding you, you don’t need to shout. They aren’t having trouble hearing you, they’re just having trouble processing your words as quickly as before.
Just repeat what you said normally, and both parties will feel respected.
3. Make Room for the Grieving Process
After experiencing a stroke, many survivors face devastating losses that can compromise their sense of freedom.
As a result, many stroke survivors will go through the 5 stages of grief. To provide them with the support they need, understand that anger, frustration, and depression are a necessary part of the process. Help them heal by simply being there and lending a listening ear.
Only attempt to solve their problems if they ask. Wouldn’t you prefer that if you were going through extremely difficult times?
4. Don’t Do Too Much
During stroke recovery, it’s common for caregivers to want to baby their survivor every step of the way. Try to avoid doing this.
The brain heals by performing difficult tasks in a repetitious manner. For example, to relearn how to use their hands, they need to perform activities using their hands.
If you’re constantly doing things for them, then their brain won’t have the optimal chance to relearn movement.
You can, and should, still help them where they need help, but being overbearing can hinder their recovery.
5. Maintain Social Connections
Stroke survivors are often faced with isolation, either from immobility or post-stroke depression. Whenever someone is going through tough times, things are always much more bearable with the presence of friends and family.
Support your loved one with your true value: your relationship.
There’s power in your presence. If you don’t know what to say, just don’t say anything. Sometimes all you need to do is simply be around.
To learn more about what your stroke survivor is going through, see this 8-part guide on life after stroke.