Childlike behavior after stroke can be distressing for both the survivor and caregiver. Why does it occur and what can be done to address it?
Generally, changes in behavior after stroke are related to the neurological impact and damage to the brain. Not everyone who experiences a stroke will demonstrate childlike behavior, but personality changes are common.
This article will explain what childlike behavior after stroke can be attributed to and what you can do to manage it.
What Causes Childlike Behavior After Stroke?
The source of childlike behavior is broad and can occur for many physical and psychological reasons.
Childlike behaviors may include emotional outbursts, impulsiveness, and lack of social inhibition. In a lot of ways, the outcomes of a stroke may leave you feeling like a child. For example, many stroke survivors may find it frustrating to relearn how to speak or move again.
Strokes are traumatic experiences, and everyone will cope a little differently and in their own time. Nearly a third of stroke survivors experience some sort of emotional problem following their stroke. This can be reflected through personality and behavioral changes.
Childlike behavior can be used as a coping mechanism. Some patients will act like children to help them manage the stress associated with life after stroke. Regressive, childlike behaviors are often a cry for help or attention, especially in stroke survivors who have limited independence.
Frontal Lobe Damage
If the stroke occurs in the part of the brain responsible for insight (the frontal lobe), these stroke patients will partake in more impulsive behaviors.
Have you ever wondered why children don’t really think about the consequences of their actions and just do whatever sounds fun? This is because their frontal lobes are not completely developed.
Among many other functions, our frontal lobes are responsible for controlling our emotions and developing our personalities. A stroke in this area of the brain can cause childlike behavior due to unstable and heightened emotions.
Vascular dementia is usually a result of a series of strokes or other factors that reduce blood flow to the brain. However, just because you have a stroke does not mean you’ll develop dementia.
Patients that develop dementia after stroke often show declining function as demonstrated by difficulties performing activities of daily living. Generally, the more severe the dementia, the more prevalent behavioral changes become.
Vascular dementia in stroke patients can result in confusion, poor decision-making skills, reduced attention span, moodiness, and behavioral changes.
Managing Childlike Behavior After Stroke
No two cases of stroke are ever entirely alike due to variances in the severity and location of damage. Therefore, what works for one person may not necessarily work for another.
You don’t have to go through life after a stroke on your own. Speaking to a psychotherapist can help relieve a lot of pent up frustration. They’re professionally trained to help identify what triggers certain behaviors and can provide resources and tips to manage your emotions better.
Listen to Those Around You
Childlike behavior can include a lack of empathy for others. This can cause you to act insensitively, which can upset those around you. Making an effort to really listen to your loved ones and take constructive criticism can help you become aware of your behavior.
Meditation can be a very effective coping mechanism for stroke patients. Taking time to really focus on your emotions and thoughts will promote mindfulness and self-acceptance. When you’re mindful of certain behaviors, you can better avoid what triggers them and practice more effective ways to handle the situation.
Medications can help balance chemical changes in the brain responsible for negative behaviors. A psychiatrist can provide you with a psychological evaluation of your mental health and prescribe you the appropriate medications.
Join a Support Group
Although your friends and family mean well, sometimes you just might feel like they don’t understand. Joining a stroke support group can help you connect with other stroke survivors, share experiences, and access lots of helpful information. To find a stroke support group near you, click here.
If you can’t meet with a support group in person, there are lots of online stroke communities you can join — like our Stroke Support Group on Facebook.
Is Childlike Behavior After Stroke Permanent?
Childlike behavior is one of many different behavioral changes people can experience after a stroke. It may or may not be permanent depending on the severity of damage and how it is managed.
Generally, the more severe the damage to the brain, the more significant the behavioral changes are. Keep in mind that behavioral changes after a life-threatening event like stroke are normal.
You may just need to give yourself a little bit of time to cope and get accustomed to life after stroke.
Hopefully, this article helped you better understand what causes childlike behavior and how you can go about managing it.