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When Stroke Happens

By Jennifer Bradley, Staff Writer

(Page 2 of 3)

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 circumstances.

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