After a loved one has a stroke, many family members may want to participate in stroke rehabilitation. How can you work together to be the most helpful? Here are some suggestions to balance their needs with your own self-care.
Collaborate with your loved one’s rehab center team
- If possible, choose a rehab center near your home that you can easily visit.
- Get to know the first names of the care team staff and greet them by name.
- Ask if you are welcome to observe and participate in your loved one’s therapy. If the therapist appears hesitant, kindly remind her or him that the patient will be coming home upon discharge and you want to learn what to do.
- Ask Speech, PT, and OTs working with your loved one to share copies of measurable treatment goals, which they have to write for insurance reimbursement. An example of a measurable goalis: “Patient will ambulate 50 feet using a wheeled walker with gait-belt assistance.” A vague goal would be “Improve ambulation.”
Do specific things to keep yourself healthy
- Get adequate rest to maintain your strength.
- Let family and friends help when they offer: take care of pets, mow your lawn, grocery shop, water plants.
- Identify a person who knows you well to help you think through and make decisions.
- If watching the news adds stress to your life, skip it.
- Ask the rehab staff to direct you to someone who can teach you relaxation techniques or download a free meditation app on your phone like Insight Timer.
- Make sure you eat regularly and reduce caffeine intake. Consider trying theEATBar (theeatbar.com) for a quick, delicious snack in-between therapy appointments. Designed as a convenient source of calories that easily melts in the mouth, these bars may also be an ideal treat to share with a loved one after a stroke. Ask your rehabilitation care team.