Cognitive Changes: Stroke can cause damage to parts of the brain responsible for memory, judgment, learning, problem solving, and awareness. Stroke survivors may have short attention spans and may lose their ability to understand meaning or learn new tasks. Below are some tips for yourself and your caregiver:
- Break down tasks into simple steps and repeat yourself when necessary.
- Set a routine and stay organized. Return things that the survivor regularly uses to the same place.
- Read, play games, do crosswords, and share photos to improve memory and focus.
Emotional or Behavioral Issues: Stroke survivors may experience fatigue, loss of emotional control, and changes in behavior or mood. This may be caused by damage to the brain; however feelings of fear, anxiety, anger, or sadness are a common response to trauma. Some suggested strategies:
- Be patient with your loved one and keep open lines of communication. Involve them in decision making as much as possible.
- Encourage independence and celebrate their success.
- Seek out a stroke support group in your area or online to connect with other caregivers and stroke survivors and share advice.
Asking for Help
For the sake of the patient and yourself, develop a support network to assist with caregiver tasks. Consider family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. Perhaps members of your faith community or civic group will offer services, or paid respite care may be an option. Respite care is short term help with caregiving tasks for the stroke survivor. ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center is an online resource center that connects caregivers and healthcare professionals with local respite services. Visit www.archrespite.org/respitelocator to find services near you.