Getting The Most Out Of Rehabilitation

You and your loved one can work together to help make stroke rehabilitation a success.

What Your Loved One Can Do

If your loved one is a stroke survivor in rehabilitation, encourage him or her to remember that he or she is the most important person in the process. Your loved one should have a major say in decisions about care, and this can be difficult for many stroke survivors. Your loved one may feel tempted to sit back and let the program staff take charge. If he or she needs extra time to think or has trouble talking, your loved one may find that others are making decisions for him or her. Try not to let this happen.

  • Make sure others understand that your loved one wants to help make decisions about his or her care.
  • Help your loved one voice questions and concerns to program staff.
  • Encourage your loved one to state his or her wishes and opinions on matters that affect him or her.
  • Encourage your loved one to speak up if anyone “talks down” to him or her; or if people talk as if he or she isn’t in the room.
  • Remember that you loved one has the right to see his or her medical records. To be a partner in his or her care, your loved one needs to be well informed. It may help to record important information about treatment and progress, and to write down any questions you both have.

If your loved one has speech problems, making his or her wishes known can be difficult. A speech-language pathologist can help your loved one communicate with other staff members, and you and other family members may also help to communicate his or her ideas and needs.

Most stroke survivors find that rehabilitation is exhausting work. They need to maintain abilities at the same time they are working to regain abilities. It’s normal for them to feel tired and discouraged at times because things that used to be easy are now difficult. The important thing is to point out the progress your loved one makes and encourage him or her to take pride in each achievement.

How You Can Help Your Loved One

As the caregiver of a stroke survivor, here are some things you can do:

  • Temper compassion with strength. While the process can be burdensome, imagine what it must be like for your loved one. He or she needs you more than ever.
  • Support your loved one’s efforts to participate in rehabilitation decisions.
  • Spend leisure time with your loved one. You can relax together while playing cards, watching television, listening to the radio, or playing a board game.
  • If your loved one has trouble communicating (aphasia), ask a speech-language pathologist how you can help.
  • Participate in education offered for stroke survivors and their loved ones. Learn as much as you can.
  • Attend some of your loved one’s rehabilitation sessions. This is a good way to learn how rehabilitation works and how you can help.
  • Encourage and help your loved one to practice skills learned in rehabilitation.
  • Make sure that the program staff suggests activities that fit your loved one’s needs and interests.
  • Avoid doing things for your loved one that he or she is able to do independently. It may be difficult to resist helping, but your loved one’s ability and confidence will grow each time he or she is able to perform an activity without assistance.
  • Take care of yourself by eating well, getting enough rest, and taking time to do things that you enjoy. You can’t care for your loved one if you’re exhausted or ill.

© Copyright FamilyCare America, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Adapted from Recovering After a Stroke, AHCPR Publication No. 95-0664, prepared by the Agency for Healthcare Policy and Research.

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