Caring for your loved one after a stroke
If you are caring for a stroke survivor, you may have a lot of questions about whether your loved one will recover and what his or her needs will be in the months and years ahead. You may also worry about how you will manage in this new role. You’re not alone.
"Caregiving can be huge,” says Maryika Gibson, a stroke nurse practitioner for Legacy Emanuel Medical Center. “Caregivers may have to continue taking care of other family or work while caring for the stroke patient’s needs and it can be overwhelming.”
A stroke is caused by a bleeding in the brain or a blocked blood vessel. You can keep your risk low by managing stroke risk factors with regular check-ups and treatment. Some risk factors: high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, diet, obesity and high blood cholesterol. It can happen at any age.
According to the American Association of Retired Persons, it’s estimated 65.7 million Americans serve as informal caregivers to a child or adult with needs. Despite the challenges of caregiving, many people report that they appreciate life more and feel positive about being able to help.
As a caregiver, you can make your loved one the focus and center of your life but you need to care for yourself too. “Know when to ask for help and know where to go for resources,” says Gibson. “Your life may change and you may have to make modifications at home or in your daily routine.”
Gibson says there are many resources to help you along the way like, like the Aphasia Network (speech and communication) and the American Stroke Association. Of course, your health care professionals are a resource and there are support groups.
Takiyah Williams: Working mom and caregiver
According to the American Stroke Association, more than seven million Americans are stroke survivors. Elementary school teacher Takiyah William’s 32-year-old son Omari is one. He survived a stroke, December, 2016.
“I was right there with the doctors, nurses and others asking questions and trying to educate myself on his condition, prognosis and what I needed to know to care for my son,” says Williams. “I took a leave from my job.”
Omari was in a stroke rehabilitation program at Legacy Health and once released, continued his care through outpatient occupational and physical therapy. At home, Takiyah led Omari back to his love of theater and music as part of his rehabilitation.
“I worked hard not to get depressed and give up,” says Williams “I wanted him to look forward to getting his old life back, and oh yes, still do his chores like washing dishes and walking the dog.”
Click on the video to watch and listen to Takiyah and to hear Omari play his saxophone.
For more information, click:
The Aphasia Network (communication) http://aphasianetwork.org/
The American Stroke Association http://strokeassociation.org
The National Stroke Association https://bit.ly/1fy5I7t
The American Heart and Stroke https://bit.ly/1gQPYsc
Legacy Health – info on support groups https://bit.ly/2JJh0GA
Legacy Health – patient education and stroke community resources https://bit.ly/2JJh0GA
Video: Vicki Guinn, Legacy Emanuel Public Relations, firstname.lastname@example.org, 503-413-2939
Photos courtesy of Takiyah Williams.