Whenever you are tasked with caring for a loved one with any kind of illness, condition, or disease, there is much you need to learn. Unless you are a medical professional, many of the terminology and techniques will be totally foreign to you.
So, it is with stroke survivors.
There are so many complications they can suffer and each one may take special ways of caring for them. To better understand this, let’s look at the most common complications stroke survivors face and ways in which you can care for them based on what they are experiencing.
Paralysis – The Most Common Complication
You may see stroke survivors who are unable to walk or move one side of their body.
Sometimes this is limited to the face and neck, but it’s paralysis, nonetheless. Any time the muscles that control swallowing in the throat and esophagus are affected, the survivor will almost always suffer dysphagia. This refers to an inability to swallow which makes eating difficult.
In fact, it can be dangerous because aspiration into the lungs is a real possibility.
Patients suffering from dysphagia are told to eat extremely soft foods that take a few muscles to swallow. Most often they are the consistency of loose mashed potatoes or pudding.
Simply Thick Nectar is one thickening agent that turns liquids into soft (pudding-like) foods. Simply Thick does not alter the taste of anything and can be used for hot and cold liquids.
Since a stroke is technically caused by a blood clot that hits the brain, any brain function can be affected. Sometimes stroke survivors have difficulty understanding what is being said or what they see in front of them.
Cognition complications from a stroke are also quite common but, again, it depends on the area of the brain in which the blood clot lodges. It may take slowing down when speaking to stroke survivors and sometimes they will comprehend what you are saying.
Don’t be totally disheartened if they can’t.
However, it would be best to speak with their doctor to see if there is any hope that some cognition will return.
Inability to Speak Clearly
Here again, since strokes are the result of damage to the brain, many survivors have difficulty forming words without slurring to some greater or lesser degree. Sometimes speech therapy can help them re-train the brain to speak, but it isn’t always guaranteed.
Patients can usually get results to some extent, but when there is any problem with the brain, it all depends on the damage that was done.
Help Is Available
While you may not have the financial wherewithal to pay for home health aides, there are associations that can offer you some amount of help and/or advice.
There are caregivers groups where you could attend meetings in order to share tips and best practices with other family caregivers and they may even know of resources where you can get respite care so you can take much-needed time to rest and recover.
Your doctor or a social worker from your local social services department may be able to direct you to available help in your area. The point is that while the road ahead may present some major challenges, there is help out there.
With diligent pursuit, it can be found.