Page 18 - Senior Times South Central Michigan - November 2019 - 26-11
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Page 18 Senior Times - November 2019
 CAREGIVER SUPPORT KEY FOR LIFE AFTER A STROKE
By: Elaine Gribble, Outreach Coordinator, Right At Home
or trouble swallowing, affect daily activities,” Dr. Elkind said. “Pain can be a big problem after a stroke because a person’s shoulder is drooping or they have pain from injury to the brain after a stroke, a central pain syndrome. Fatigue is also a common physical challenge after a stroke.”
2. Communication – A stroke can leave a per- son with slurred speech or with aphasia, a language disorder that impairs one’s ability to speak or understand others. Cognitive changes post-stroke can also affect a stroke survivor’s social interactions because of decreased attention and ease of distractibility. Engaging with others is also hampered, as some stroke survivors cannot control inap- propriate behaviors or they repeatedly stay with one topic in conversation.
3. Emotional – “Extremely common are emo- tional challenges like depression that occurs in at least a third of people after a stroke,” Dr. Elkind explains. “Anxiety is another. Some people have PTSD after a stroke the way you might after another adverse life event. Some people have episodes of laughter or crying. All those things take their toll.”
4. Finances, Family, Social Roles, Etc. – Dealing with medical costs and loss of income during recovery certainly affects stroke survivors. It can feel overwhelming to learn new roles within the family and other relationships as well as adjust to one’s self-identity with a body that may not func- tion the same way as it once did.
Recovery from a stroke depends on many factors including what section of the brain was affected, the overall health of the survivor, the survivor’s motivation to improve, and support from caregivers. Once home, patients may need
  More than seven million Americans are survivors of a stroke, the “brain attack” that occurs when an area of the brain is cut off from normal blood flow. Every year in the United States, 800,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke, and while some people recover completely from a stroke, nearly 70 percent of stroke survivors undergo rehabilitation to help recover from post-stroke disabilities such as limb weakness, paralysis, cognitive deficits, or inability to speak.
ongoing rehabilitation through an outpatient rehab facility or through home-based therapy. Most stroke recovery happens within the first few months, but many survivors continue to make progress over time.
Because the process for stroke recovery takes time, family caregivers are at risk for compromising their own health and responsi- bilities.
 Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in the country, and the number two cause of death worldwide. Stroke is also the leading cause of serious long-term disability in the U.S.
“After a stroke, it is paramount that family caregivers develop a strong support system of medical staff, other family and friends, profes- sional caregivers, and community resources,” said Elaine Gribble, Outreach Coordinator for Right at Home of South Central Michigan, Jackson office. “One of the greatest needs out- side post-stroke care and help with everyday activities is giving family members a break – some much-needed respite care for themselves such as going to a movie or out to lunch with friends.”
 Key Challenges for Stroke Survivors
Recovery after a stroke is often a mix of hope and anxiety for patients and their families. Once a hospitalized stroke patient is stabilized, the individual can be moved to inpatient or acute rehabilitation, which requires several hours a day of therapy. Patients who do not meet the medical status or insurance require- ments of inpatient rehab may be sent to a skilled nursing facility. The patient’s hospital medical team or personal physician can help with a referral to an accredited, reputable rehabilitation facility or home care therapist who can assist with further stroke care.
Whenever possible, the goal for stroke patients is to return to their own safe, home environment.
As a vascular neurologist, Dr. Elkind spe- cializes in brain disease, particularly strokes and other conditions that affect blood vessels to the brain. Dr. Elkind divides the challenges of stroke survivors into four main areas:
1. Physical – “Physical challenges, like weak- ness, the inability to walk, a tendency to fall
Gribble recommends that family caregivers stay in touch with the hospital case manager
or social worker to learn about available reha- bilitation services and community resources including stroke survivor and caregiver support groups.
  Help for Life After a Stroke
For resources on post-stroke care, edu- cation and support for stroke survivors and family caregivers, visit the American Stroke Association’s support network at https://sup- portnetwork.heart.org or the National Stroke Association at http://www.stroke.org.
The Jackson office of Right at Home is a locally owned and operated franchise office of Right at Home, LLC, serving the communities of Jackson, Hillsdale, Lenawee, & Calhoun. For more information visit www.rightathome.net/ south-central-michigan or call (517) 768-0900.
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