A stroke is a serious medical condition that can result in long-term challenges. Someone who has had a stroke may find daily activities much more difficult or even impossible to do, resulting in the need for a caregiver. Even those who are able to adapt may be at a higher risk of falling or other accidents. If you’re a caregiver for someone who has had a stroke, you may find that you need a little help. Reliant Home Care Services can assist you with in-home care on a regular basis or respite care as needed. Let’s take a look at what caring for a loved one who has had a stroke entails and when you may want to reach out for a little help.


a close-up image of neurons


Effects of a Stroke

The effects of a stroke can greatly vary. Some people may be able to recover over time, regaining most or all of their mobility and other functions. Others may be paralyzed on one side of their body, making it harder to walk. Some may have impaired speech, confusion, or memory issues. With such a wide range of challenges, caregivers must be prepared for many challenges. You will also need to be prepared to make a number of changes to your loved one’s home or consider if your loved one is able to live independently. 

A stroke often leads to emotional changes, too. Your loved one may become seriously depressed if they’re no longer physically able to engage in their favorite hobbies or if they must become dependent on others for transportation and daily tasks. They may have trouble sleeping, which can lead to agitation and difficulty concentrating during the day. It’s possible your loved one may begin acting like a different person, but it’s important to remember that they’re not being unkind by choice—a stroke is a profound life-changing event that is going to take its toll on even the hardiest individual.


Caring for Your Loved One

When you become a caregiver for someone who has had a stroke, you will want to research the condition in general and learn how it has affected your loved one in particular. You will want to talk to them about their capabilities and limitations. You may also want to accompany them to their next doctor’s appointment so you can speak to their doctor and ask any questions you may have. Once you understand what your loved one needs help with, you will be able to put together your own plan of care for them. Here are some of the areas where they may need your help.


Standing and Walking

Strokes often paralyze one side of the body. In some cases, this paralysis may be minor and the person may simply need to walk with a cane. In other cases, however, the person’s mobility may be severely limited. They may need to use a wheelchair all or most of the time. You may need to modify your home or your loved one’s home to help accommodate their limited mobility.

In some cases, these modifications may be fairly minor. You may need to install grab bars in the bathroom or add taller or sturdier railings to any steps in the house. Your loved one may need a power recliner that helps them stand up or may need to move their bedroom to the first floor. On the other hand, if your loved one is confined to a wheelchair, you may need to add ramps and other tools that help them go from their chair to their bed or other space. 

In some cases, you may even need to remodel the home to enlarge small doorways or halls. Some older homes can be very awkward for wheelchair users, and you may find that the cost of these remodels is simply too costly. In this case, you may need to consider alternative living options for your loved one, such as assisted living or moving in with you or another family member.

When you partner with Reliant, we will do a home safety assessment and work with you and your loved one to determine what changes may need to be made to the home. With those who have had a stroke, safety is always paramount. 


Learning and Re-Learning

Your loved one will likely need some physical therapy, even if their stroke was minor. As their informal caregiver, you should participate in this process so you know how to best help your loved one continue therapy on their own. Their physical therapist may leave exercises for your loved one to do in between sessions, and you may need to help them with these exercises. 

If your loved one is no longer able to use their dominant hand, they will have to learn how to write and do other activities with their other hand. This can be very difficult. Be prepared to assist them with re-learning how to write. They will have to learn new ways of dressing, bathing, and other activities, too. All of these can seem overwhelming at first, so it’s important that you are patient with your loved one and don’t try to rush their progress. Everyone recovers at their own pace, and putting stress on your loved one or trying to do everything for them will not make the process faster. It can be tempting to simply take over for your loved one, but this will likely upset them and can lead to a breakdown in your relationship.


Behavioral Changes

Physical changes aren’t the only change your loved one is likely to go through. You will also likely notice changes in their mood and behavior. Some of this may be temporary. It’s not uncommon for someone to have suffered a stroke to experience depression, especially if they suddenly find themselves unable to walk, write, or speak clearly. It can be overwhelming. The best thing you can do during this time is to be there for them. Encourage them during their therapy sessions, be patient with them as they struggle to communicate, and learn about strokes.

If you believe your loved one continues to struggle with depression long-term, you will want to speak to their healthcare team about it. Depression can cause loved ones to break off contact with others, become less physically active, and even turn suicidal. It’s important that your loved one’s care team provide mental healthcare as well as physical care.


a brain model made out of a net-like material


Don’t Overwhelm Yourself

Being a caregiver to someone who has had a stroke can be incredibly rewarding, but it can also be stressful and overwhelming. When you find yourself getting overwhelmed, it’s okay to reach out for help. You’re not failing as a caregiver or as a person. You’re human, and feeling overwhelmed or burnt out is going to happen.

That’s why Reliant is here. We provide a number of services for those who have had strokes and their caregivers. You’re going to need a break from time to time. When you do, we can provide respite care. One of our caregivers will stay with your loved one while you run errands, attend important events, or simply take some time to rest. If you’re not able to be a daily caregiver, we can provide regular in-home care as often as your loved one needs it. We also have caregivers who are experienced in caring for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia, meeting the needs of veterans, and assisting with chronic conditions. 

If your loved one has had a stroke and is need of a little extra care, or if you need a break, Reliant Home Care Services is here for you. Contact us today to discuss how we can help.