|May 22, 2013||Posted by Ronni under Stroke|
Life after stroke can be difficult for everyone touched, but especially for the victim of stroke. Depression is very common for someone who is rehabilitating from stroke, and even more commonly it goes untreated.
While caring for someone who has suffered a stroke, it’s important to pay attention to behavior and mood changes. Here are a few things to look out for:
- Ongoing sad, anxious or empty feelings
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details or making decisions
- Overeating or loss of appetite
- Thoughts of death and suicide or suicide attempts
- Feeling tired all the time
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies that were once enjoyable
If your loved one has experience multiple strokes or mini-strokes that has set back rehabilitation, they may be more apt to have depression. If you think that your loved one may be depressed, talk to them first before speaking with a physician. Sometimes, feeling a hand of support can help someone move away from depression. If their mood persists, speak to their physician.
|May 14, 2013||Posted by Maddie under Stroke|
Each year approximately 795,000 Americans suffer from a stroke– of those, approximately 185,000 are recurrent. Within five years of a stroke, the risk of having another can increase to more than 40%. 24% of women and 42% of men who have had a stroke will experience another one within their lifetime. Recurrent strokes often have a higher rate of disability and death because brain injuries obtained by the first stroke cause the brain to be less resilient.
Be sure to stay informed and keep updated on your health! There are certain stroke risk factors that cannot be controlled, such as age, gender and ethnicity; however, there are many factors that we can control:
- Monitor Blood Pressure- High blood pressure is one of the most important and easily controlled stroke risk factors. Get regular check ups and talk to your doctor about a diet plan that will keep your blood pressure down. This would include eliminating foods that are high in sodium and fat. Monitoring cholesterol levels is also key in preventing recurrent stroke.
- Exercise – Findings from the Nurses’ Health Study of over 72,000 women aged 40 to 65 show that regular exercise can cut your risk of blocked-vessel stroke in half. Even moderate or brisk walking, done on a regular basis, reduces the risk of stroke by 30% to 50%.
- Monitor Circulation Problems- Make sure you are communicating with a doctor frequently. Find out if there are any underlying problems you may not have known about that could increase the risk of a recurrent stroke. Know what is going on with your body!
- Kick the Bad Habits- Smoking doubles the risk for stroke compared to a non-smoker. Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood, forcing the heart to work harder and allowing blood clots to form more easily. It also increases the build up in the arteries, blocking the flow of blood to the brain, which causes a stroke. We know how tough quitting can be so make sure you have full support from family and friends to help you get through it! Limiting alcohol consumption is also important in reducing the risk for recurrent stroke.
|May 1, 2013||Posted by Ronni under Stroke|
To kick off our Stroke Awareness Month Campaign this May, we want to start at the beginning: knowing and helping.
The first step to productively helping someone suffering from a stroke is knowing the symptoms. Remember the acronym F.A.S.T. – Face, Arms, Speech, Time. The faster you can identify a stroke the faster someone can get care. If you think someone is having a stroke, call 911 immediately.
You will want to try to remain calm. While this may seem impossible, if a loved one is having a stroke, staying calm will help you control the situation around you and help your love done. When you are calm you can be helful and observant.
You should take note of anything and everything you this is important. Symptoms, tremors, words spoke, how they fall – no detail is too small. Staying calm can also benefit your loved one. Althought they may not show it, they may be just as scared as you.
If the episode ends before help arrives, do not offer then food, medicine or water. Strokes are finicky – let the professionals decided how to go forward.
Once your loved one is in the hands of professionals take this time to call loved ones and answer any questions they may have.
Remember, recognized the stroke right away and thats the most help you can give.
|October 11, 2012||Posted by Rachel under Stroke|
When a loved one suffers a stroke, blocked blood vessel splits and causes bleeding in the brain, which may lead to brain damage. Some stroke victims suffer partial paralysis and can affect your loved ones ability to use a hand and arm. Without the full use of your hands or arms means facing limitations to daily, necessary tasks such as typing and writing. EasierLiving.com provides a variety of tools for people rehabilitating from a stroke. Below you will find our top three products for writing and typing to help someone adjust to life post-stroke. You or your loved one will find these are great tools to keep around the house or take with them back to the office!
Make ordinary writing devices usable for people with less of a handgrip. The grip slips onto many writing devices such as pens, pencils, markers, and paintbrushes, and allows your loved one to write with ease. It’s an excellent tool for continuing daily life, work or hobbies after stroke.
Steady your shaky hands to write more easily. The weight of the pen reduces tremors and the over-sized grip makes it easy to keep in hand. The actual weight can be changed based on personal preference and legibility almost always improves. The pen may also help people with Parkinson’s continue to write longer.
The digital age has come and it’s not going anywhere. Email and digital documents are exchanged daily. Help your loved one, or yourself, stay up-to-date with the rest of the family and with work. These comfortably sliparound the palms and transform the ability to type. No pain, no struggle; just a simple tool helping communication.
|September 25, 2012||Posted by Rachel under Food and Nutrition, Stroke|
If you have survived a stroke, it could be crucial to change your diet to avoid having a second stroke—38% of stroke victims with high blood pressure did not change their diets and had a second stroke. Stroke survivors should focus on switching to a low-fat, low sugar, low cholesterol diet in order to maintain a healthy life. Here are some things to consider when deciding on a new menu after a stroke:
Reduce Saturated Fat Intake
Drink skim or nonfat milk instead of whole milk, do not eat fatty cuts of meat, and do not eat chicken or turkey with the skin still on it.
Cut Down Fats
Instead of frying when you cook, try baking or broiling. Also, try using fat-free salad dressing, avoid things like butter and sour-cream, and use small amounts of spreads such as margarine.
Cut Back on Salt
High salt intake leads to high blood pressure, and high blood pressure leads to a stroke. So it’s important to take in no more than 2,400 milligrams of salt each day to prevent getting high blood pressure.
Easy to Swallow
Not always, but sometimes stroke victims lose the ability to swallow easily. If this is the case, it’s extremely important to find foods that your loved one will actually be able to swallow.
|September 20, 2012||Posted by Rachel under Stroke|
National Suicide Prevention Week 2012 was from September 9th-15th. Suicide affects a variety of people, but did you know that stroke victims are at twice the risk of suicide? Having a stroke is an incredibly traumatic experience that can often lead to depression and contemplation of suicide. But what can you as a caregiver do to help?
Firstly, work with a doctor to distinguish disability from depression. Common effects of a stroke such as a weakened ability to communicate are different than signs of depression, which could include fatigue, lack of energy, loss of appetite, sadness, and low self-esteem. If you notice that your loved one has any of these symptoms of depression, don’t hesitate to seek treatment. A variety of depression treatments can very helpful for stroke survivors. It’s important to contact your doctor to discuss which medication or other treatment would be affective for your loved one.
One way to treat post-stroke depression at home is to get your loved one involved in social activities. Stroke victims can often feel isolated or alone, so make sure they interact in activities with friends and family as often as possible. Your presence alone can make a big difference to someone who suffered a stroke. Exercise has also been proven to help relieve post-stroke depression. Many hospitals offer exercise classes for stroke survivors, so be sure to check that out!
|August 15, 2012||Posted by Ronni under Stroke|
According to WebMD, “new research shows that only about half o stroke survivors are able to return to work,” after a stroke. This is due to depression or lasting disability. Because a stroke affects all victim’s differently, the reason for not returning to work can be different for anyone. However, for a person functioning at a high level after a stroke, returning to work can only speed recovery. It will make your body and brain work hard and constantly. In this economy, it’s not always an option for retirement due to a stroke. Talk to your loved one about the options the family has for the future. If returning to work is the best option for everyone, here are some tips to make the transition easier:
- During recovery, take part in vocational rehabilitation. This may help cognition and problem solving return quicker.
- Talk to your supervisor and HR about adjusting your position or responsibilities until you feel that you can take on everything you did prior to the stroke.
- Don’t ignore feelings of depression. It’s common, so make sure you are talking to a professional or a loved one.
- Prepare your co-workers for possible help you may need – from lifting boxes to information on stroke symptoms in case you have a relapse.
|July 3, 2012||Posted by Ronni under Prepare for Care, Stroke|
Managing life at home: Getting around Easier
At some point in your loved one’s journey after their stroke, they will transition into their new life at home. This transition can be made easier by seeking out the help of an occupational therapist. The doctor can refer one to come to the house and help understand what changes in the home could be beneficial to your loved one. Try and make these arrangements and changes before your caree moves back home.
Depending on the type of stroke your loved one had, they will have varying needs. If they have trouble getting around physically, you may have to add certain things to the home to make it safer. Try and make clear paths throughout the home for a wheelchair, walker or cane. If your caree is in a wheelchair, a ramp leading up to the home could prove beneficial. Also, a mechanical chair to help them up and down stairs within the home could save mental and physical stress.
Adjust the lights in your home to decrease glare that make cause difficulty seeing and, likewise, make sure that low-lit areas are well lit. Also for safety’s sake, make sure that there are telephones in places where your loved one can get to them. A phone by the bed or in the bathroom can be a good addition to ensure that your loved one can call someone if they need help.
Help your loved one by getting them non-slip shoes or socks and try and keep surfaces from being too slippery – like the shower. Thick carpet can be a challenge for someone in a wheelchair or someone using a cane or walker. Lower, shorter carpets may be a better option. Changing a carpet can be a large, expensive overhaul, so we recommend throw rugs – as long as they are secured to the floor to ensure no one trips over them.
Installing grab bars by the toilet and in the shower will help your caree get up and sit down while reducing the risk of falling. It is always smart to be prepared for falls, however. Fall mats in the shower or by the bed can absorb the shock from potentially dangerous falls while bed rails can help keep your loved one safely in bed at night. Also in the bathroom, make sure you have non-slip mats put in and easy-to-use knobs that are good for people with limited dexterity. A raised toilet seat can be very helpful for your loved one. If they are uncomfortable with putting a seat riser on and off or they don’t want company to see it, a much more hygienic and discreet option is a permanent toilet riser that goes that the base of the toilet.
When your loved one is adapting to their new life after stroke, remember that it’s not just the physical changes that can be difficult for them. Getting dressed in the morning can pose a problem to them if their stroke left them unable to use one side of their body. Remember that they spent the majority of their lives dressing themselves without help. Find ways for them to maintain as much independence and possible so they don’t feel like their dignity is being compromised.
Talk to them about what makes them more comfortable while getting dressed. Ask them what you can do to help and find little tricks to make it easier for them. Lose fitting clothing is much easier to put on than clothes that have a tight fit. Buttons can be difficult, so you can replace them with Velcro or purchase a button aid. A dressing stick is a great start for a dressing aid. They help your caree pick up clothes or slip their arms into sleeves of shirts. Also, extended shoehorns can be very helpful along with a sock aid to help pull on socks.
|June 26, 2012||Posted by Ronni under Prepare for Care, Stroke|
Rehabilitation from Stroke
The rehabilitation process after a stroke is as unique as the person who experienced the stroke. Everyone reacts so differently depending on what part of the brain was injured, so the rehabbing has to be contoured to fit each individual person.
For the most part, rehabilitation after stroke is about your loved one relearning skills that were lost when certain parts of the brain were injured. For some, that means a physical rehab that is done with a physical therapist. Coordinating leg movements, learning how to walk again, how to move limbs and do things that require strength, balance and movement are all a big part of it.
Rehabilitation typically begins in the hospital within 48 hours after the stroke. Your loved one will be helped with movement and be asked to change positions frequently to engage their injured limbs. The exercises will be chosen by the therapist based on the needs of your caree and their abilities to move on their own. Depending on the sustained injuries, your loved one may work on simply sitting up or moving from the bed to a chair, or start doing things like bearing weight on their legs or starting to walk again.
Don’t be afraid to be a big part of this process. Since the rehab will surely continue once you both go home, it’s important to know what to do and how to assist them.
If your loved one sustained injuries to their brain that caused more trouble with speech, cognition or memory loss, they would probably need a different kind of therapy. An occupational therapist and speech-language pathologist would meet with you and your caree in the hospital to begin rehab. The occupational therapist would aid your caree with their personal needs – like learning to take care of themselves independently again – and help them will all of their needs associated with daily living. This also involved cognition and learning how to work through thought processes.
A speech-language pathologist would focus more on helping your loved one overcome their troubles with aphasia or other speech related conditions. This would involve relearning how to use language or developing new ways to communicate that might be easier post stroke. Sometimes it is determined that sign language might be a good option for a patient, or perhaps using symbol boards. Be open-minded and learn with your loved one so you can help them through their rehabilitation.
|June 12, 2012||Posted by Elizabeth under Prepare for Care, Stroke, Uncategorized|
Even if your loved one has experienced a stroke, there is hope for life after stroke. It’s simply a matter of working with the involved healthcare professionals and your caree to find a plan that works best for them in their healing process. It’s crucial to understand that every person reacts differently and recovers differently. It is not necessarily a predictable process. Finding the right support network of family, friends and healthcare professionals will make the journey much easier for you and your loved one.
Thinking and cognition
Strokes are unpredictable. For some, they cause physical problems with the body, and for others they affect the brain’s ability to think. If your loved one experiences a stroke that cause issues with cognition or thinking, it means that most likely a different part of the brain was injured than someone who experiences physical limitations. But just like people who have work to try and overcome the physical challenges of a stroke, the same can be done with the mental challenges.
Things like talking, writing, reading, comprehending conversation and memory loss are all potential side effects of a stroke that affect the part of the brain that controls cognition. More specifically, if your loved one receives damage to the front portion of the brain, they are more likely to lose the ability to control certain behaviors or organize and express thoughts.
In terms of memory loss, it can be different for everyone. Some may lose their verbal memory (names, stories and words) while others could lose their visual memory (faces, routes and other visual stimuli).
What will help?
When you and your loved one are ready, there are things that can help you both to get through this trying time.
- Form a routine: By sticking to a scheduled routine for a while, you could help your caree to be less confused and more engaged.
- One thing at a time: Don’t take on too much at once when involving your loved one. Take on one thing at a time as to not overwhelm them.
- Make notes: To jog the memory and pave a clear path for the day ahead, make notes and lists.
- Be a creature of habit: It will benefit your caree if you consciously put things in the same places where they can easily be found or remembered. Try not to switch things up too much.
- Engage: Engaging your loved one with memory games or just talking about familiar things can be very beneficial.
After a stroke, one of the more common symptoms of someone whose memory and cognition was affected is aphasia. Aphasia is when your loved one struggles with communication. They may have a hard time communicating what they want to say or express and they may also have a difficult time understanding others.
Although some can recover from aphasia just with the passing of time, others find speech and language therapy to be very beneficial. They can also teach your loved one other ways of communicating that may be easier for them. A neuropsychologist could also prove helpful. They are a doctor that can treat changes in thinking and memory after a stroke. You can receive a referral from your caree’s neurologist.