“stroke” conjures up feelings of anxiety and fear even
when it has not touched our lives personally. When
caregivers of stroke patients face the reality of stroke
and its aftermath, anxiety and fear pervade care.
Often, we second
guess our decisions as we care for others, but the
second guessing becomes more vivid when loved ones have
acute issues, like stroke. We worry that we did
not give medication properly, stress over small
arguments that may have “caused” the incident, and more.
Depending on the degree of
impairment after a stroke, our own health may take a
turn into neglect as we pour more of ourselves into
caregiving. If we can put ourselves into a mindset
that incorporates self care into our daily routine, we
will be less apt to dismiss our needs.
balance in improving our loved one’s health and keeping
our own is a venture into more loving care experiences.
Society is making a shift toward a new attitude when it
comes to taking care of loved ones. As more people
become informed about what it takes to be a caregiver,
the expectations others have of caregivers become more
radio, and publications offer information about stroke
awareness and prevention. Rather than feel
overwhelmed with the amount of data available, a
caregiver can view the many sources as resources to be
drawn upon, a little at a time. Health tips,
cautions, dietary suggestions, and other advice from
these resources can be incorporated into the family
structure to make everyone healthier.
Nutrition And Stroke Patients:
After a stroke, the body begins
its process of repairing itself with the help of medical
supervision and caregivers. The amount of
disruption a stroke causes varies from one body to
another, but all bodies require adequate nutrition to
sustain and repair tissue.
new challenges after meeting with doctors and dietary
staff who suggest medication and meal changes.
There may be frustrating advice on portion control,
spice usage, and fluid regulation that can make
caregivers feel as though their homes are being turned
even more upside down.
If we look at
how the changes can benefit the entire family, the
changes we make will create better health for everyone
involved. Even when family members have different
health conditions, an overall evaluation of current
eating habits against improved eating habits will
manifest positive changes. Caregivers are at the
helm of guiding their loved ones toward a healthy
lifestyle, and the pressure of having to create
different meals only adds to stress.
Loved ones know
the impact their illness has on the family and may
struggle against using special utensils or following a
dietary change. When a caregiver takes control and
incorporates changes in diet and exercise into the
family matrix, everyone benefits. There are no
excuses for why dietary changes aren’t followed because
there are no differences in “who gets what.”
diminish the capability to chew and swallow. The
patient who enjoyed vegetables and salads may not be
able to handle these larger pieces. Adapting to
chopped salads and vegetables can be an option.
Wilted or “cooked” salads have made their way into finer
restaurants and can be featured on your dinner table.
This simple change in a meal will offer everyone at the
table something new to try together.
favored by many households as a time to get together,
chat, and connect. Food, its taste and
presentation bring people together in many ways.
Instead of caregivers feeling stress about preparing
more than one meal type, new dishes can be served and
Since the taste
of food may be altered after a stroke, and the patient
placed on a sodium restricted diet, suggestions for
flavoring can be obtained from the dietician.
Asking about products like dulse or seaweed to replace
salt is an option. They also add healthy minerals
to dishes in ways iodized salt doesn’t.
Soups can be an
easy option as an entrée as long as a caregiver is not
required to monitor fluid intake and output. Even
when fluid is restricted, a balance can be found by
changing portion size to fit the fluid intake
restrictions. Stews and other broth-based items
like gravies and sauces have to be included in fluid
intake as well. However, this is where portion
control for the whole family comes in, and is an
Jar sauces provide a great deal of
convenience when cooking, but the sodium content and
other additives may be deemed off limits after a stroke.
A caregiver may be encouraged to cook with fresh
ingredients, but this may not be practical on a
day-to-day basis. However, cooking ahead and
keeping some things frozen may be a way to save time and
stress while using homemade ingredients. The time
spent one day will be saved by reheating on following
gravies work well when reheated carefully. A crock
pot can be set on low at day’s start, with the meal
ready by dinnertime.
like amaranth can be cooked well and mixed with other
cereals like grits or oatmeal. Amaranth has a
surprising quality of being very gravy-like in
consistency, and can work as a gravy alternative.
Since it also holds other flavors well, small amounts of
honey and cinnamon or other “warm” spices keep away the
salt factor while retaining flavor.
It takes time to
be willing to experiment with “health” foods, but the
people who work in these stores can offer cooking ideas.
Certain foods do not do well being frozen (tofu) or
reheated, but labels explain enough to make it easy.
alternatives to butter and oil can also be found in
health food stores. Omega oils, sold by the
bottle, double as salad dressings or spreads, and carry
flavors as well as butter or margarine. Many oils,
like flax seed oil, cannot be heated, but referring to
the label provides the information needed.
beginning to show that by raising “good” cholesterol,
the effects on the body equal those of lowering “bad”
cholesterol. The Journal of the American Medical
Association discussed this in a February 7, 2007 issue
where four studies of patients with coronary events
found that patients who worked on both good and bad
cholesterol levels had the most improvement overall.
What this means
to caregivers is that everything we do (and some things
are easier than others) to improve the health of our
loved ones—and ourselves—has an effect. Whether we
are talking about more exercise, a change in diet,
relaxation therapy—any positive change, it works toward
everyone’s well being
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