Tips for helping individuals coping with stroke

Use assistive devices

Assistive devices are meant to make rehabilitation and daily tasks easier. These devices could be:

  • Walking poles
  • Walkers
  • Canes
  • Wheelchairs
  • Software applications on computers or phones
  • Smart technology
  • Hand bars in the bathrooms
  • Railings

Arrange their environment

After a stroke and subsequent brain injury, the person’s home environment may not be set up for them to act independently (at least at first). This can be hard on self-esteem and means they may rely on you and other family members for more things. Following an occupational therapist’s suggestions or advice on minor home environment adjustments can create a safe, practical living space that lets them be as independent as possible. Labelling drawers, getting special adaptive tools, or adding safety railings are all examples of home environment improvements that could be helpful. Please note you may still have to help with some activities.

Be patient

Stroke and brain injury rehabilitation will take a lot of time and commitment. Neither of you will  see progress right away, and it’s easy to get discouraged. But with time, rehabilitation, and breaking down big goals, you will both see progress.

Focus on one task at a time

Multitasking requires a lot of focus, and it can be overwhelming – particularly if the person is struggling with attention at this time. When they try to do too many things at once, something could be missed or done incorrectly. By encouraging them to focus on one task at a time, you ensure that they are completing that task safely and correctly. This is much more effective, particularly if the task is a rehabilitation exercise.

Get appropriate rest

Stroke and brain injury recovery requires a lot of energy. This energy often fades as the day goes on. It’s easy to get fatigued . By encouraging your friend or family member to take breaks and devote some time to creating a good sleep routine , you can make sure they are well-rested for the day.

Keep schedules and lists

Schedules and lists help keep both of you track appointments and stay organized. A schedule or list can also reduce stress because you won’t be worried about forgetting something.

You can also use journaling as a useful way to track the person’s progress, activities, and your own feelings .

Take care of your mental health

Mental health is an essential part of overall well-being, and an important aspect of brain injury recovery. It is a difficult, emotional and mentally stressful process for both of you. As a caregiver, there is a risk that you may experience anxiety, anger, or depression.

Plan for the long-term

After a stroke and brain injury, a person may need help to complete activities of daily living (ADLs). It’s important to make plans for the long-term. They could have a caregiver, a personal support worker, move into short-term care or find a long-term care home. There are several options they can choose, and several factors they should take into consideration to make the decision.

If you are the person’s caregiver, you should also make a plan for yourself. In the event you are not able to continue caring for the person or there’s an emergency situation, a formalized plan can help prepare for those scenarios.

Exercise and nutrition

Proper exercise and nutrition are important parts of health. After a stroke, your friend or family member may have specific restrictions on what they can do and eat. Working with a dietitian and physical therapists will ensure they are getting the right nutrients and exercising safely.

For more focused tips on stroke and brain injury recovery, check out the Heart and Stroke Foundation website