Stroke recovery for the caregiver of a survivor

Stroke Recovery: Tips for the Caregiver

By Brenda Conaway from WebMD archives

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 your new role.

“Caregiving can be a big load to shoulder,” says Maggie Fermental, RN, a stroke nurse at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Formerly an OR nurse, Fermental suffered a stroke at the age of 31 from a fall while ice skating. She now counsels stroke survivors and their families. “Not only do caregivers continue to fulfill their role in the family, they also have to care for the survivor and take on that person’s role as well,” Fermental says. “It can be overwhelming.”

In the U.S., more than 50 million people provide care for a loved one with a disability or illness. Anywhere from 59% to 75% of caregivers are women, and most are caring for an older parent. Yet despite the challenges of caregiving, many people report that they appreciate life more and feel positive about being able to help.

Look into insurance coverage and assess your finances. Medicare and/or health insurance will cover most of the hospitalization and rehabilitation expenses. However, there may be restrictions on which facilities and providers are covered. So be sure to find out exactly what is covered and what out-of-pocket payments may be needed. Also remember that as your loved one gains abilities or is no longer progressing, coverage may change or stop. The hospital’s social service department or a case manager can help you negotiate the often complex world of insurance and explore other options should you need additional aid.

Participate in stroke rehabilitation. Attend a few therapy sessions so that you can support your loved one during stroke recovery. Encourage the stroke survivor to practice new skills, but don’t always jump in to help. “Don’t do too much,” Fermental says. “Be supportive, and allow survivors to do things for themselves.” Even small accomplishments will help your loved one become more self-reliant and confident.

Assess your loved one’s needs as well as your ability to meet them. The stroke survivor’s health care team can help you determine what kind of help will be needed. Caregivers often need to:

Focus on your physical health. Don’t ignore minor health concerns, and be sure to get regularly scheduled checkups and health exams. Learn healthy ways to manage stress and relax. Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep will help you keep up your strength.

Focus on your emotional health. Allow yourself to feel frustrated, angry, and sad, and share it with someone other than your loved one. These feeling are normal, and in order to not dwell on them, you need to express them. This is where friends and support groups can play an important role.

Studies show that caregivers are also at risk for depression, especially if the survivor has dementia. Depression responds well to treatment, so talk with your doctor if you think you may be depressed.

Get Support. To find a support group near you, call your local hospital or do an online search for “caregiver support.” You can find online support groups as well as local meetings in your area. Talking with other caregivers can help you feel less alone and provide an opportunity to share resources and caregiving tips.

Remember to laugh. Humor can be your best defense against difficult situations and feelings. You are carrying a heavy load and deserve to laugh and feel joy, so it’s important to remain open to the good things life has to offer.

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Healing your heart and head after a stroke

Stroke Recovery as a Love Story – The Science of Healing and Happiness                      

(Excerpts from www.flintrehab.com)

To heal your brain after stroke, you need to approach it from the head and the heart.

You have to learn the science behind how your brain actually heals and how your unhappiness is hindering your recovery.

We’ll cover the brainy stuff first and dig into the feel-good stuff at the end.

Start with the Head

To get your life back after stroke, you need to regain lost skills, which is possible through the phenomenon of neuroplasticity.

Neuroplasticity works when you train your brain to become better at a certain skill. During stroke recovery, you’ll technically be working on ‘old skills,’ but the brain is relearning them like new again.

To make neuroplasticity work, you need to get your affected muscles moving, and you need to get them moving in a repetitious manner. When you repeat a movement over and over, it strengthens the new connections in your brain.

As those connections get stronger and stronger, you continue to get better and better.

We recommend using neuroplasticity in two ways: to heal the brain and boost happiness.

Move to the Heart

Stroke recovery can take a serious toll on your happiness, and that can set back your progress.

You need to foster a place of love and happiness within yourself first, and then all your efforts will flourish.

The most common struggles impeding happiness during stroke recovery are angerfrustration, and depression. All of these emotions are heavily influenced by negative self-talk. And if you can untrain that negative self-talk, then you can absolutely, undoubtedly propel your recovery into greatness.

You will be able to achieve a full recovery because you simply think you can.

This concept is very critical to your success because you need to understand exactly how your thoughts are influencing your recovery. Because if you feel like you’ve plateaued, you haven’t. And the only thing standing in the way of a higher recovery is you and your current thoughts.

And we’re going to show you how to retrain those thoughts to set you up for success.

Boost Your Recovery with Mindfulness – Backed by Science

The tips you’re about to read may not seem like a big deal. They may not seem like the missing piece of the stroke recovery puzzle – but they are.

And they’re backed by science.

So try to keep an open mind as we explain how mindfulness can positively impact your recovery, starting with this short example.

Consider for a moment which of these situations would make you happiest:

  • Doing your hand exercises while becoming absorbed by your hand exercises
  • Doing your hand exercises while thinking about traveling in Paris
  • Traveling in Paris while thinking about your hand exercises
  • Traveling in Paris while becoming absorbed by the beauty around you

Believe it or not, science actually says that situation #1 and #4 lead to the most happiness.

Yes. It’s a scientific fact that we’re happiest when thought and action are aligned. Unfortunately, we spend about half our time thinking about things completely unrelated to what we’re doing, and it’s draining our happiness.

What Does This Mean For Stroke Recovery?

During stroke recovery, it’s hard to be present.

You’re in a very difficult place and you just want out.

It’s likely that your thoughts are absorbed in the past or the future. You could be reminiscing on how great life was before your stroke, or you could be yearning for the future when you’re finally recovered.

Both of these thoughts are not rooted in what you’re doing. They’re rooted somewhere else.

And that’s exactly what leads to unhappiness and failure.

But sometimes it’s not your intention to have a wandering mind. Sometimes wandering minds are the result of years of mental training.

Since a very young age, it’s likely that you allowed your mind to wander. You’ve been doing this repeatedly for years – and it’s trained your brain to, well, wander. Because that’s how neuroplasticity works.

Luckily you can use neuroplasticity and repetition to untrain your mind from wandering – and you can get there through meditation.

Meditate for a Higher Recovery – Backed By Science

And now we have to tell you the thing you hate hearing:

Meditation is found to be one of the best things for stroke recovery.

You hate hearing it because it’s such a simple solution and therefore couldn’t possibly have a meaningful impact on your recovery – not when you’ve been putting in all this hard, grueling work.

How could something so simple be the thing that makes or breaks your recovery?

We hear you. But the science makes a pretty strong argument on this one.

Meditation is proven to help:

  • Reduce depression, tiredness, and fatigue
  • Grow the grey matter of your brain
  • Improve balance, attention, and emotion regulation

It’s quite a list, isn’t it?

And you can experience all those benefits – and increased happiness – by starting a daily meditation habit.

Your New Habit

Starting a daily meditation habit can be tough even though the practice itself seems easy.

So if you want the habit to stick, follow these steps.

How to do it:

Every day, meditate for just 30 seconds. Yup, 30 seconds and that’s it. If you want to go longer, then please do. But make 30 seconds your minimum. Everything else is extra.

How to make it a habit:

All habits need cues, so link your meditation to a specific daily event, like going to bed or waking up.

This way, the event will trigger the habit and you’ll be much more likely to stick to it.

Why you should do it:

Meditation, when done properly, can train your brain to focus more on the present moment, and this will help increase your happiness during a time where you need it most.

Clinical trials now recruiting

inspriation august

CLINICAL TRIALS CURRENTLY RECRUITING FOR STROKE PATIENTS

-UCLA – Implementing and Testing a Culturally-Tailored Stroke Risk Factor Reduction Intervention in Community Senior Centers. Contact: Daniel Araiza. Email: daraiza@mednet.ucla.edu. Phone: 310-825-8253. Currently Recruiting

-UCLA Stroke Center / Huntington Memorial Hospital Stroke Center – A Phase 2 Double Blinded, Randomized, Placebo Controlled Dose Escalation Study to Evaluate the Efficacy and the Safety of GM602 in Patients With Acute Middle Cerebral Artery Ischemic Stroke Within an 18-hour Treatment Window. Contact: Arbi G. Ohanian. Email: arbi.ohanian@huntingtonhospital.com. Phone: 626-397-2515. Recruiting until 12/1/2016

-Cedars-Sinai Medical Center – A Multi-center, Phase 2 Study Using a Continual Reassessment Method to Determine the Safety and Tolerability of 3K3A-APC, a Recombinant Variant of Human APC, in Combination With tPA, Mechanical Thrombectomy or Both in Moderate to Severe Acute Ischemic Stroke. Contact: Patrick D. Lyden. Email: ESIMPSON1@mgh.harvard.edu. Recruiting until 3/1/2017

-Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center – Diffusion Weighted Imaging (DWI) or Computerized Tomography Perfusion (CTP) Assessment With Clinical Mismatch in the Triage of Wake Up and Late Presenting Strokes Undergoing Neurointervention. Contact: Jee Yang. Email: Jee.S.Yang@kp.org. Phone: 323-783-5935. Recruiting until 7/1/2017

-Kaiser Permanente South California / Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center – Mild and Rapidly Improving Stroke Study. Contact: Catherine L Lui (Kaiser); Karen Tse-Chang (Pomona). Email: jromano@med.miami.edu. Phone: 323-783-5752; 909-630-7222. Recruiting until 12/1/2018

-CSUN, Center of achievement/Brown Center at California State University, Northridge – Influence of Water Depth on Energy Expenditure during Aquatic Walking in People Post-Stroke. Contact: Hyosok Lim. Email: Hyosok.lim.976@my.csun.edu. Phone: 217-979-2742. Currently Recruiting

UCLA Medical Center – Trevo® Retriever Registry Post Market Surveillance. The purpose of the Trevo® Retriever Registry is to collect real world performance data of the Trevo® Retriever which is intended to restore blood flow in the neurovasculature by removing thrombus in patients experiencing ischemic stroke. Contact: Judy Guzy. Email: JGuzy@mednet.ucla.edu. Phone: 310-794-0600. Recruiting until 12/1/2017

-UCLA – Remote Preconditioning Over Time To Empower Cerebral Tissue (REM-PROTECT). Pilot, Randomized, Controlled, Staggered Start, Feasibility Trial of Ischemic Preconditioning, a Promising Novel Treatment for Stroke Prevention. Contact: Johanna Avelar. Email: LAvelar@mednet.ucla.edu. Phone: 310-825-6930. Recruiting until 6/1/2018

-UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine – EDAS (Surgical) Revascularization for Symptomatic Intracranial Arterial Stenosis. The goal of this investigation is to advance a promising surgical treatment for stroke due to symptomatic atherosclerotic intracranial stenosis – encephaloduroarteriosynangiosis (EDAS). Contact: Nestor R Gonzalez. Email: ngonzalez@mednet.ucla.edu. Phone: 310-206-2872. Recruiting until 2/1/2017

The NeuroCommunity Foundation is here for you! 

As a non-profit foundation, we provide support groups, educational conferences, resources, research updates/ clinical trials information and PD events in the SFV/Ventura/Central Coast/ Inland Empire.

As we rely on donations to continue providing these services at no charge, if you would like to support our efforts, you can donate with ease and security at our website or mail us your gift. Our website is:  www.neurocommunity.org

The NeuroCommunity Foundation is exempt from Federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donors may deduct contributions to the foundation as provided in section 170 of the Internal Revenue Code.

For information about Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders, support groups, wellness programs, education events, and local resources in northern Los Angeles county, Ventura county, Central Coast & Central Valley, contact us here or call 818-885-8623 to speak with Jan D. Somers, Education Director, Parkinson & Movement Disorder Information Center, The NeuroCommunity Foundation.

 

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