Recovering from a stroke is a lifelong process made up of tiny steps over the course of many months and years. It is not a process with a specific time frame or goals that can be accomplished according to a set schedule. In order to help your parent recover from a stroke at home you need information and support. Recovery is a long process and the more you know the easier it will be.
Going home from the hospital or rehabilitation center may be the hardest thing your loved one will do after a stroke. When your parent comes home you will be able to determine the full extent of their limitations as they try to carry out activities of daily living. Entering familiar surroundings will bring memories of all the things he or she loves and wants to do; some of which may not be possible due to the impairments of the stroke. Your parent must also try to apply the skills learned in rehab to the home environment. These factors make returning home a time fraught with emotion and frustration. Encouragement is key at this time. Remind your parent that the first step is coming home and that together you can work toward resuming beloved activities.
As a caregiver, you must prepare yourself for the road ahead as well. It can be difficult to adjust to the fact that your parent can no longer do some things for themselves. It can be disconcerting to watch him or her struggle to do simple things like walk, talk or get a glass of water. You may have to give up your free time and the ability to do things that you enjoy. It will help if you seek out support for yourself immediately through stroke support groups, and set up a personal support network of friends and family who can share some of the caregiving responsibilities. It is important to take stroke recovery one day at a time.
Make sure that the home environment is safe and easy for your parent to navigate. Make sure that walkways outside the house are smooth and well lit. Make sure that indoor traffic patterns are wide, clear and non-slip. Grab bars beside the tub and toilet are essential and night lights are a must-have throughout the house.
Information is power and you are going to need lots of it as you help your parent recover from a stroke at home. Start by scheduling a follow-up appointment for your parent with his or her primary care physician, they’ll be able to give you important information to about how to approach post-stroke and identify signs of stroke. Ask about support services available at the hospital and in your community. Talk to the doctor about whether your parent qualifies for visiting nurse services or other types of at-home clinical support. Then ask if you can speak to the social worker at the hospital in order to get a list of all the community support services that you might access.
Inquire about specific types of programs in your area including Meals on Wheels that delivers hot meals to the home, adult day care with activities that can support your loved one’s recovery, and at-home care agencies that can provide highly trained caregivers with specific skills to help you care for a parent after a stroke. You will also want to check on local transportation services that can take wheelchair users and others on errands such as shopping or doctor’s visits.