My husband had a stroke a few weeks ago. While he is recovering well, we are both traumatized by the experience. He had no warning signs and seemingly no risk factors.
He will hopefully be discharged from the rehabilitation center in the next week or so. I must admit, I am very anxious about bringing him home. Do you have any tips for those new to caring for a loved one who has had a stroke?
Any advice would be much appreciated!
Caring for a Loved One After a Stroke
I’m glad to hear your husband is progressing well after his stroke. As you mentioned, many people have no warning signs before a stroke. It can traumatize the person who experienced a stroke as well as their loved ones.
First, learn as much about strokes as you can. Then make lifestyle changes to lower your husband’s risk for another stroke. Your husband’s physician has likely told you that having one stroke puts a person at higher risk for another. In fact, 1 in 4 stroke victims in this country is someone who has previously experienced a stroke.
It’s also important to remember the signs of stroke in case it happens again in the future:
Face: Is the face drooping?
Arms: Can both arms be raised?
Speech: Is speech slurred?
Time: Act quickly and seek medical attention immediately.
Some stroke risk factors are beyond a person’s control, such as age, race, family history, and gender. Women, African Americans, and people over the age of 65 have elevated risk. Women are also more likely than men to lose their life to stroke. Fortunately, many factors are controllable with lifestyle changes.
Caregiver Guide to Stroke
Here is what caregivers like you should know about stroke prevention.
Manage blood pressure: Blood pressure is a contributing factor to strokes. Working with your husband’s doctor to monitor and manage his blood pressure may lower his risk of having another stroke.
Quit smoking: While most people associate smoking with lung cancer, it also plays a leading role in strokes. If your husband is a smoker, help him connect with a smoking cessation program.
Keep moving: Exercising and avoiding being too sedentary are also important steps in preventing strokes. Sitting less and moving more may prevent obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, which contribute to strokes. If the two of you haven’t been very active lately, ask your physician for advice on beginning an exercise program.
Watch your diet: According to the American Stroke Association, a diet with 5 or more daily servings of fruits and vegetables may lower the risk of stroke. It is also important to avoid foods high in saturated or trans-fat.
Control blood sugar: People with diabetes type I or II also have a higher risk for stroke. By following physician’s orders for managing diabetes, a person may lower their stroke risk.
My final tip is to seek help with caregiving duties if you need it. Caring for a loved one recovering from a serious health crisis can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Making time to care for yourself is important. The support of an in-home caregiver can make that easier.
Good luck to you and your husband, Donna. I hope his transition home goes smoothly.