Strokes are surprisingly common but nevertheless an extremely scary thing to happen to anyone. After someone that you care about has had a stroke, it’s important to focus on the small things that you can do to make life easier for them – this article will take you through three areas to focus on.
After a stroke, it’s important to focus on eating a healthy and balanced diet. This will speed up recovery and improve your elderly relative’s mental state. It’s good to incorporate as many whole foods as possible and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. It’s best to avoid saturated fats and instead focus on getting lots of healthy fats from things like nuts, seeds, and avocado. It’s common to have eating difficulties after a stroke. You can develop a condition called dysphasia, but there are lots of things you can do to make eating and swallowing easier – check out exactly what dysphagia and other swallowing disorders on the Simply Holahan blog.
Smoothies and soups are a good idea as well as roasting or steaming vegetables to make them softer and easier to chew and digest. If your relative is having real problems with chewing and swallowing, an instant food thickener might be the best option. A thickening agent allows patients to swallow with better control – this is helpful for patients that would otherwise have to resort to a feeding tube.
Watch out for changes in your relatives’ mental health. This could be general mood changes or behavioral differences. Many stroke patients suffer from anxiety and depression as well as more general feelings of frustration, tiredness and a lack of motivation. It’s imperative to watch out for changes in your elderly relative’s mental state as they might not have the mental or physical capacity to communicate to you that they need psychiatric support as well as physical. It’s a good idea to communicate to your relative’s that you are open to hear any of their worries and that they should feel free to speak about how they are feeling without judgment.
Support groups are a great way to provide your elderly relative with companionship. Stroke survivors benefit from frequent social interaction and support groups can provide a space where your elderly relative can chat to other stroke survivors about their experiences. Support groups are a great place to find out about available resources for stroke survivors in your area, like meal delivery services, therapy services, and care workers. It’s important for your elderly relative to feel like their experience of surviving a stroke is heard and understood by others and it’s great if swapping and sharing stories can deepen connections to others in their community.
Caring for a stroke survivor can seem like a daunting task. It’s difficult to see your relative so ill and then on top of that, struggling with their quality of life after such a major health setback. These three tips should help to make things that little bit easier for both you and them.