Taking Care Of Stroke Patients — What You Should Know
A stroke is a painful experience to go through, both for the patient and their loved ones. It occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted or when there is internal bleeding in the brain. It is even more difficult when it’s an elderly person who has to suffer. But certain steps can be taken to make it easier for the stroke patient. If done right, it can also prove life-saving in certain situations.
How to impart timely care?
There are 3 distinct time-periods of care required for stroke patients. The first is during the incident — the first-aid that’s of immense importance. It can even be the decisive factor between life and death in extreme cases. The second stage is acute care that takes place in a hospital. The third is the after-care needed for the elderly person after they’ve been treated by the doctors when they return home.
To impart proper first-aid, the people nearby have to recognize the symptoms of a stroke. The visible warning signs of a stroke can be assessed from the person’s face and arms. If the face is numb or drooping towards one side, it could signify the onset of a stroke. Similarly, if one arm is numb or weaker than the other, or if it stays lower than the other arm when trying to raise both arms, it could also be a symptom. If the person’s speech is slurred or if their vision is blurred or if they report numbness on one side of the body — these could also mean that the person is having a stroke. If someone is showing these symptoms, the first step is to call the nearest hospital or medical emergency service immediately. Time is of the utmost importance here. Even if the symptoms go away, having the person checked by a medical professional as soon as possible is essential.
Having called the emergency services, some first-aid is in order. Some useful things that can be done are: -
- Make sure the person is in a safe and comfortable position. Lying on their non-numb side with their head raised would be the best possible position.
- Reassuringly talk to them. Having the brain calm down is a great way to relieve stress.
- If the person is showing any weakness on any part of their body (they usually will), do not try to move it.
- Do not give them anything to eat or drink.
- Check for breathing trouble. And if they aren’t breathing, perform CPR (only if proper administration is known).
- Observe all the changes that are happening to the person and report it accurately to the medical professionals when they are consulted.
The second stage of acute care should ideally take place in a hospital that has the appropriate facilities for taking care of stroke patients. The elderly person should have all the support systems in place for proper recovery. It can take up to a week or more in the hospital for the initial treatment to be completed. Being with the elderly during this time can be a great moral support for them while the professionals do their job.
The third stage is the most protracted and difficult one. It can occur months or even years after the elderly person has experienced a stroke. It can be quite exacting on the people supporting them too. Different routines and priorities will need to be set up if the person is to have a full recovery. In some cases, a full return to normalcy is not possible, which changes the requirement to palliative care.
How to get help?
Seeing an elderly person undergo such a physical and emotional change is painful for everyone around them. And a stroke can recur too. According to results from widespread studies, strokes become more common after an initial occurrence. But proper care can mitigate that to a very good extent. Aside from the physical help with their daily lives, stroke survivors need sympathetic support when dealing with the confusion, depression and PTSD aspects of going through the whole frightening experience.
Creating a timeline and rehabilitation plans in consultation with doctors can promote ongoing motivation for recovery. Help will be required for the person to deal with the difficulty in communicating. Being with them and caring for them can help to deal with the psychological issues that arise. Forming new habits for productive use of time is another practical way forward. Also, be sure to have the elderly person follow the doctor’s specific recommendations to prevent another stroke. Motivation is the ultimate factor here, for both the elderly and their loved ones. Keeping it positive and taking the proper steps can bring excellent results, given time.