Millions of Americans suffer a stroke every year and over 800,000 die as a result. In fact, strokes are one of the leading causes of death in the U.S., with one person dying from a stroke every four minutes. Strokes more commonly target the elderly, and women in general are more likely to die from one than are men. With respect to race, African Americans run twice the risk for having a stroke versus white individuals. If you are currently caring for an aging in place elderly loved one who just had a stroke, here’s what to expect after they leave the hospital.
What Causes a Stroke?
A stroke occurs when an oxygen-carrying blood vessel to the brain gets blocked or bursts. Once that oxygen supply is cut off, brain cells begin to die, which then causes permanent damage that affects certain motor functions like speech, movement, eyesight and memory.
How Many Types of Strokes Are There?
There are 3 basic types of strokes:
- Ischemic. These account for roughly 85% of all strokes and occur when narrow arteries that supply the brain with oxygen get blocked by a blood clot. There are 2 kinds of ischemic strokes based on where the clot forms, embolic and thrombolic.
- Hemorrhagic. This rarer type of stroke happens when arteries found in the brain start to leak blood into the brain itself, placing pressure on sensitive brain tissues. If the blood vessel bursts, emergency surgery is required to relieve pressure.
- Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs). Also known as mini strokes, TIAs also happen when blood flow to the brain gets restricted, causing temporary symptoms that mimic those found with other types of strokes. Unfortunately, someone experiencing TIAs is at high risk for having a full-blown stroke within a year.
Physicians also subclassify strokes based on the area of the brain that’s targeted.
Caring for a Stroke Survivor
Over 60% of all stroke survivors end up with a disability afterwards that requires rehabilitation. Before your senior leaves the hospital, a care coordinator will sit down and explain the options moving forward. If your loved one has a spouse or other companion in the home, they should be able to take on some of the caregiving responsibilities during the rehabilitation process. But if that person is also elderly, your help will probably be needed. If the stroke survivor lives alone, it might be best if they stay with you for a while.
Once you’ve determined their basic needs, here are some ways to help:
Daily Living Assistance
Depending on how the stroke affected their motor skills, your senior could use daily living assistance for:
- Bathing and dressing
- Meals and food shopping
- Managing their medical bills and insurance
- Laundry and light housework
- Bill paying
- Medication management
Your loved one will be getting physical and speech therapy at a nearby medical facility. Studies have found that the faster therapy starts, the better the prognosis for regaining at least some motor function. Your role may be providing transportation and emotional support during the rehab process. If walking is problematic, find them an assistive device like a cane or walker.
Cigarette smoking, high blood pressure and diabetes are all stroke risk factors that can be addressed through positive lifestyle changes, especially after a stroke has occurred. If your loved one smokes, eats unhealthy foods or is overweight, encourage them to adopt healthier habits. Speak to a dietician about nutritious meals that you can prepare for your senior, and make sure they are taking their medications as prescribed.
Exercising is important for stroke recovery, so take your senior to see a physical or occupational therapist so they can devise an at-home workout program. Their doctor might even recommend physical therapy through home care or at a rehab facility for a few weeks.
Flexible In-Home Senior Care for Stroke Survivors
Caring for a senior after a stroke can be overwhelming. When you need assistance, contact First In Care. We are a fully licensed and insured home care and home healthcare agency, which means our full menu of in-home services includes companion care, personal care and skilled nursing care. From light housekeeping, personal hygiene, meals and transportation, to around-the-clock attention for medications, insulin injections and catheter care, we’ve got your family’s needs covered.
All our caregivers are carefully screened and well trained, and we even have registered nurses (RNs) available 24/7 to put your mind at ease. For more information about First In Care, or to confidentially discuss upcoming care needs for a senior in Manatee County, FL, today, please visit us at: www.firstincare.com now!