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Caring for Stroke

By Janie Rosman, Staff Writer

 

Caregivers must be patient with their loved ones and with themselves and know the signs of a stroke. The two major types of stroke are ischemic and hemorrhagic. To lessen the possibility of death and disability; the F.A.S.T. acronym is important:

F = Face: Is one side of the face drooping down?
A = Arm: Can the person raise both arms, or is one arm weak?
S = Speech: Is speech slurred or confusing?
T = Time: Time is critical!! Call 9-1-1 immediately!

Types of Stroke

In an ischemic stroke, which accounts for 80 percent of all strokes, a blood vessel becomes blocked by a blood clot; a portion of the brain becomes deprived of oxygen and will stop functioning. When a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain bursts and spills blood into the brain, a portion of the brain is deprived of oxygen and stops functioning, resulting in a hemorrhagic stroke; this accounts for about 20 percent of strokes.Mini-strokes are Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs) and have the same symptoms as a major stroke. A blood clot blocks the flow of blood in the brain and breaks on its own; symptoms can disappear after a short period of time, however this can be a warning sign of a future stroke.

Recovery

Stroke rehabilitation doesnít reverse the strokeís effects; it helps the individual return to independent living, aiming to build strength, capability and confidence.

  • Self-care skills such as feeding, grooming, bathing and dressing
  • Mobility skills such as transferring, walking or self-propelling a wheelchair
  • Communication skills in speech and language
  • Cognitive skills such as memory or problem solving
  • Social skills for interacting with other people

Caring for a stroke survivor can be emotionally, mentally and physically stressful. You should ask the doctor and healthcare team what the person will need at home, be it equipment (a cane, a walker); assistance with bathing, dressing, tending to personal needs; help with preparing meals and cooking; or financial management. Caregivers can support their loved one and encourage small accomplishments, which mean a lot to someone who has to relearn a once-mastered skill.

The Caregiverís Role

  • Assist with doctorís appointments, medications, and exercises
  • Manage financial matters and transportation
  • Provide the stroke survivor with physical, mental and emotional support
  • Assist the stroke survivor with daily activities such as personal care and hygiene
  • Plan out the stroke survivorís care, including setting routines and managing the care team
  • Assess stroke survivorís medical needs, communicate with healthcare professionals and advocate (medically) for the stroke survivor

 

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