Strokes predominantly affect the elderly. About 10% of adults aged 65 years and older have experienced a stroke. Strokes are caused by blockage to the circulation of healthy oxygenated blood to the brain.
There are two ways that a stroke can happen: A brain bleed
or a blood clot.
Strokes are dangerous as they can kill neurons and damage brain tissue. This can cause physical and mental changes and long-term disability. Especially for the elderly, strokes can be fatal.
Early Stroke Symptoms
Here are some signs that caregivers can look out for in their clients as early indicators of stroke :
- Numbness in the legs, arm and face, possibly localized to one side of the body
- Slurred speech
- Difficulty in comprehending others
- Sudden confusion
- Facial drooping and weakness
- Vision loss – in one or both eyes
If you notice any of these symptoms in your client, you must immediately call 911 and the family as your client may need emergency care.
Effect of Stroke
The effects of a stroke can be different for each individual. It is undeterminable in most cases whether the damage from a stroke is temporary or permanent. Stroke care needs to be tailored to your clients’ needs and conditions. It must include instructions and guidance from their doctors.
There is a chance that a stroke may leave a senior paralyzed. They may have limited mobility and be wheelchair-bound. This may require a caregiver who has experience in assisting with mobility.
Some clients may develop speech impairments. They will have difficulty in holding a conversation with others including their caregivers. The caregivers will need to learn to understand the cues that the clients may give to express themselves.
Whatever the symptoms stroke patients may develop, your job as their caregiver is the same. You need to discuss their condition with the family and tailor the care to match the clients’ needs.
For elderly clients, their willpower and determination influence how well they recover. As their caregiver, you can encourage them so they stay motivated and in high spirits.
Home Care Tips for Stroke Patients
Here are a few tips on how to care for clients who have suffered a stroke:
Monitoring drug effects – Once a client has a stroke, they may go on many medications. It would help if you were well-informed about the side effects. In case you notice any side effects, inform the family immediately so they can discuss with the client’s doctor.
Facilitating mobility – Some stroke patients have reduced mobility. As a caregiver, get in touch with the family to discuss any modifications that may be required in the home to facilitate mobility and reduce hazards. The family members can consult your client’s doctor, nurse, or therapist about the changes that need to be made.
Stroke survivors need to avoid stairs during recovery. You may consider shifting their room to the ground floor, after getting permission from the family if it’s not already there.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle – Stroke survivors remain at risk of getting another stroke, especially if they do not get proper care after the stroke.
As a caregiver, you need to maintain a healthy diet for your clients. If there are any exercises recommended by your client’s therapist, you need to help your clients carry them out every day. You also need to make sure that the client takes medications on time and as prescribed by the doctor. Lastly, you should keep track of all the doctor’s appointments and ensure that your client does not miss them.
Fall prevention – Falls are a common post-stroke risk. You should ensure that you minimize fall risks for your clients. You should remove rugs, tie-down power cords and get rid of any clutter around the home. You can also ask the family to get professionals to install handles and grab bars in the bathrooms and shower area.
You can find some fall prevention tips in our blog at: https://www.considracare.com/7-tips-to-prevent-falls-among-seniors/
If your client does fall, you must call 911 immediately and inform the family.
Measuring progress – Your client’s healthcare professionals will measure the progress of your client’s recovery using a Functional Independence Measure Score (FIMS).
However, as a caregiver, you should also monitor and record your client’s progress in communication and mobility and report it to the client’s family and doctor regularly.
Monitoring personality changes and depression. Life-threatening events, such as a stroke can profoundly impact a person’s personality. It is also common for stroke patients to fall into depression. This can happen for both physiological and psychological reasons.
You should monitor such changes. If the client is irritable, moody, grumpy, or overly emotional, inform the family. They can report these changes to the client’s doctor and get help.
Joining support groups – Sometimes, stroke sufferers may need more support than you and their family can offer. It may benefit them to hear the experiences and stories of others who went through a similar situation.
You can research the local stroke support groups around your client’s home, or online, and recommend to the family to enroll your client in a suitable program. You must inform the family and get their permission if you decide to enroll the client in a support group yourself.
Strokes are common among seniors and can have a profound impact on their health, mobility, ability to communicate and mental state. The quality of care they get after a stroke will determine how fast and well they recover and adjust to any long-term disabilities. Their caregivers play an active role in their recovery and must be trained in taking care of stroke patients.