Healing After a Stroke
A stroke often comes on very suddenly, and it is frightening. Even after getting to the hospital and beginning the recovery process, many seniors continue to experience some fear about the permanent impacts of this event. While it is common to have a long road to recovery ahead, the good news is, the brain can heal itself. Stroke survivors can and do regain functioning. Brain cells have the remarkable ability to regenerate. The idea of enjoying a long, high quality and independent life is not out of reach.
Knowing there is hope for recovery following a stroke is a relief to many seniors and their family members. Still, it is important to take action immediately. Seeking prompt medical support when a senior suffers a stroke makes a world of difference. Throughout recovery, the best outcomes are noted when a senior has a comprehensive stroke recovery plan of care in place.
It is important for seniors and their family members to remain realistic about what stroke recovery looks like. There are almost always ups and downs. There is no set speed for recovery, and some individuals may need a higher level of support more long term or even permanently.
A stroke impacts every person in a slightly different way. The severity of the stroke, which part of the brain was impacted and the person’s health prior to the stroke all make a difference. Regardless of the severity of a stroke, seniors typically notice the most rapid recovery in the first three months after the event. Still, some will continue to see progress several months or even years later, so expecting a specific timeline is not realistic.
Throughout the recovery process, seniors experience different symptoms. While some might experience several symptoms, others will only notice one or two. Which symptoms a person experiences often dictates the type of therapy that will benefit them.
For instance, a senior who has difficulty speaking clearly or swallowing would benefit from speech therapy. Someone who is unable to ambulate independently because of paralysis on one side of the body will typically do well with physical therapy. A person with trouble focusing or remembering and who needs to re-learn how to tie their shoes or take a bath will often notice improvements with occupational therapy. Some seniors see the greatest improvements when more than one type of therapy is prescribed. It is important to look at therapy in a very individualized way and consider all options when developing the plan of care.
In addition to therapy, it is important for a senior to maintain follow up visits with their doctor. Especially in the earliest days of recovery, this sometimes means spending a lot of time in the doctor’s office. While time consuming, these visits are necessary. Doctors continuously evaluate improvements, run diagnosis tests and monitor or change medications to enhance recovery.
Family caregivers can help with this by providing transportation to medical appointments. It is also important to maintain a list of all medications the senior is taking. Bring that list to every medical appointment. Take time to understand the side effects of medications. If the senior is experiencing any, bring that to the doctor’s attention. Also discuss any setbacks, concerns or questions at every appointment. Monitor changes in both physical and mental health, and keep an eye out for post-stroke depression (which is common). When family caregivers cannot attend medical appointments with their loved one, hiring a professional caregivers through an agency like Salus Homecare South Bay is a safe and effective alternative.
Work the Brain
One of the best ways to help the brain to “heal” itself after a stroke is to keep using it. Crossword puzzles, a game of chess, reading, card games and other stimuli help to improve cognition, stimulate brain activity and enhance mood too. Seniors benefit when they are provided with plenty of opportunities to socialize and remain engaged with other people. While it is important to give a stroke victim time to rest, encourage them to avoid becoming reclusive. Let them know that their recovery matters to you.
A stroke is not a death sentence. In fact, many seniors recover and go on to live very happy, healthy and productive lives. Stay positive, and help your loved one to focus on their recovery. Consider your options when it comes to physical, occupational or speech therapy. Follow up with medical appointments, and stimulate the brain. Create an environment that promotes recovery so the brain can do its job and heal. Salus Homecare South Bay provides accredited home care, home health and therapeutic services that help create a safe and effective stroke recovery environment. Let us know if we can help.