By Cheri Hinshelwood
Life after stroke can feel unpredictable. Families and survivors are grappling with questions, while trying to cope with changes in body, mind and spirit. Be comforted; there’s hope and help.
“Stroke survivors are on a journey to recovery,” said Robin Jones, Mission Health stroke program manager. “And there is no set timetable for improvements.”
Get a Jump on Recovery
Everyone is affected differently by stroke. Stroke frequently affects speech, strength, balance and the ability to swallow.
“Getting stroke survivors healing quickly improves their outcomes,” said Jones. Family, friends and medical support working together make for better recoveries.
Your doctor and speech, occupational and physical therapists create your care plan. While some physical abilities can resolve quickly, healing takes time. Stick with it, suggests Jones.
Finding new ways to tackle chores like feeding and dressing yourself eases frustrations. Choosing slip-ons or shoes with Velcro closures, pants with elastic waistbands and shirts with snaps makes dressing easier.
Join a Stroke Support Group
There is power in numbers. Stroke survivor support groups offer information and inspiration from people in similar situations. “Families make bonds and become more prepared for recovery,” said Jones.
Change It Up
Most advances are made within the few months following a stroke. If progress slows, your care team can make changes to your care plan for new gains.
Watch for Depression
Fear, anger and loss are normal. Other changes like difficulty controlling emotions can lead to isolation and depression. Talk with your healthcare provider about these changes that can affect progress.
Memory Loss and Other Effects
Confusion, memory loss and poor decision making are other common effects of stroke. Using lists and calendars, posting reminders in your home and keeping important phone numbers nearby can help. Doing puzzles and word games rebuilds brain function. Providers and support groups can offer other options to adapt.
“We all want what the patient wants — to regain as much of their independence as possible,” said Jones.
Robin Jones is a Mission Health stroke program manager. (828) 213-6163