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When Stroke Happens
By Jennifer Bradley, Staff Writer
First Time Around
Not all strokes are caught in time. If a
loved one is alone at the time of the attack, too much
time may elapse before a call for help can be placed.
For caregivers who find themselves in
the new world of caring for a loved one who just
suffered a major stroke, there are a few things
first-timers should now. From the initial trip to the
hospital and through the recovery process, it’s
important to take notes and keep records. The “Stroke
Caregivers Handbook” from Stroke Awareness for Everyone
(SAFE) recommends using two notebooks or three-ring
binders with folders: one for notes for encounters with
medical professionals and the other for records,
correspondence, receipts and bills.
It’s important to keep an up-to-date
list of mediations, dosages and when prescriptions were
filled. At each and every medical appointment, that
information will be requested.
One particular piece of advice this
handbook offers is to not pay any bills from medical
providers until the claims are completely processed
through the insurance. If a caregiver pays any portion
of the bill, it essentially says that the payee takes
full responsibility and revokes any ability to appeal
the insurance in the future, if necessary.
There are a few symptoms a loved one can
expect to face early on after a stroke. The first is
aphasia, or difficulty communicating. This could range
from complete loss of speech to the occasional
difficulty finding a right word. Those with aphasia are
mentally competent, thus making this a frustrating
disorder for caregiver and loved one.
Another common symptom is subluxation of
the shoulder on the stroke-affected side of a loved
one’s body. This causes dead weight and needs to be
supported so the shoulder does come out of its socket.
Breakdown of overall skin integrity and
loss of bladder and bowel function are also symptoms
present in those newly diagnosed with a stroke.
Depression and a wide gamut of emotional
issues are something a caregiver must be aware of and
tread delicately through with their loved one. It’s
normal for a person to mourn the loss of their “old”
self and caregivers should learn to practice empathy
instead of sympathy, reminding a loved one that they are
still alive and have much to offer, just in a new way.
The “New” Normal
After a major stroke, most people spend
time in a hospitalbecoming stable enough to move on for
rehabilitation,either at a special facility or home,
depending on thecaregiver’s availability and