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Caregivers' Tips

 

Tip: Take Care of YOU. The more you take care of yourself, the more you have to give. The first few months after the stroke may take all of your time and energy, but try to do what you can to keep your independence and sanity. And when the stroke survivor can do more, so can you. It's hard for caregiver types to think about themselves first - but you have to.

From what I have read, caregivers tend to react and do what needs to be done in the beginning, but after a while, when things calm down - that's when our stress sets in. We gain weight, or lose weight. We get crabby and irritable, or even depressed. We may take it out on everyone but the stroke survivor, or lose patience with them. If we let the stress bottle up and go on without relief, we will develop health problems of our own. Then who will take care of the stroke survivor ?

Who will take care of us ?

Suggestions: Don't be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes people just don't know how to help. Don't be afraid to say exactly what you need either. Put the word out to everyone, and someone will step up. If you need someone to come sit with stroke survivor a couple times a week -- ask them. When the stroke survivor is more mobile - speak up and say, why don't you come take him/her out for lunch or to the movie some afternoon. It's tough getting used to lugging around their wheelchair (if they use one) but after a few times, they will get the hang of it. If your charge isnt able to go out too much - suggest they bring dinner and a movie in - and you can choose to stay and enjoy, or go out - either way - a change of pace for everyone.

Whether or not you have family and friends for help, you still have to do whatever it takes to take care of yourself too. Give yourself relaxation time, a bubble bath, a massage, counseling or visits with friends, and try to find a way to keep your own independence. It's important. Caring for a stroke survivor is a lifetime job - make it a long life :)

And most importantly - don't be afraid to ask the stroke survivor for what you need. Have them help you with house chores at first, and soon they will be able to do it on their own. Doing chores around the house is very good for them - physically and emotionally - and it lessens your burden. Just don't be too picky if they don't do it exactly right - they will get better.

Bonus: Getting the extended family and friends to help out gives everyone an excuse to get together - have fun, enjoy time together. For women caregivers, getting your husband to do the dishes is a huge bonus hehehehhee.

My experience: In the beginning, I had a lot of help. I made it clear that I could not take care of my mom alone. My brothers helped out with money when we needed it and my sister in law came a couple days a week to stay with mom, so I could work a couple days. After the initial stages, Mom could stay alone more and more and my sister in law really needed to get back to work full time herself. Helping out wasn't so needed anymore... and it would have been easy for me to get left holding the bag. Everyone has to work and take care of the kids etc.

But we have fallen into a system that works for us. My brother and sister in law take my mom overnight and then to church every weekend. It gives us all what we need. I get a little time to myself or with my daughter, and Mom gets out of the house. My brothers also call and take Mom on outings or weekend events whenever they can. They have taken her to ball games, Disney World, movies, and much more. My sister in law's folks are snow birds and come down for the winter. They take Mom out for lunch or coffee a few times when they are here too. Friends from church have even picked her up and taken her to a church picnic. She loves it.

I am one of the lucky ones to have family close by, young and healthy and able to help. I know not everyone has that - but.... if you have anyone -- don't let the excuse of busy with work and family stand in the way. They should be able to enjoy time with the stroke survivor too. If they can't take him/her out - maybe they could come visit. A chance for all of you to enjoy each others' company - and maybe you can get an extra hand moving that couch or doing the dinner dishes while they visit.

I am also lucky because my mom has recovered very well and is active, reasonably mobile, and communicative. Hopefully with time, your charge will be more mobile too. My mom is also antsy and a caregiver type herself - she didn't handle being "taken care of" too well - so she kept trying and trying until she learned how to do more and more. Not everyone will be that self - motivated - you may have to nudge them. But do it - they will feel better about participating and chipping in, and all activities are good for them.

What my mom does:

she loads the dishwasher everyday (she cant always reach to put everything away, and she can't wash all of the pots and pans, but she keeps up with the cups and plates etc.. what a life saver for me.

she looks through mailers and picks coupons and writes the grocery list every week - loves to do the shopping too - she uses the scooter at the store or her own wheelchair while I push the cart. My daughter usually helps with this chore too.

she picks up around the house - she can't take the garbage outside, but she will bag it up and leave it by the door and we both try to get my daughter to take it out.

she can (but doesn't very often) push the swiffer vac around the kitchen - a lightweight cordless contraption - perfect for her to use. I don't think it's her favorite though hehehee.

She waters her plants outside. She uses her cane to get to the patio, and waters her plants and sits on the bench for a while - I keep a lightweight watering can full for her. She can stand for short times and she just loves her orchids. She carries her inside plants into the kitchen and waters them and lets them dry a bit before putting back.

She feeds the cat sometimes and will put the catfood up for the night.

She does the laundry. She cant fold it with only 1 usable arm, but she puts it in the washer or dryer and brings it out. She scoots it around in baskets and then we fold it and put it away.

She cooks sometimes. Nothing fancy, but she can cook a few things - or help cook. If she cooks, and needs help opening a can or putting a heavy pan in the oven, she will get my daughter to help or me, if I'm there. A lot of times all 3 of us cook. I will start the meat, and she will watch it and stir it, my daughter will open cans or add spices, or do the veggies. We have no set routine, but we all get fed just fine, and I don't do all the cooking myself.

Just a reminder too - Take out is a wonderful invention - especially delivery.


Additional Tips :

  • consider adult day care or home visiting nurse
  • have the kids/grandkids read to him/her
  • hire a cleaning person once or twice a week
  • have a game night or card game with friends - ask them to bring the snacks
  • stay involved with church or groups
  • take up a new interest or hobby - learn something new
  • go on outings with or without your charge -- the park, beach, movies, even a shopping trip is fun if you don't get out much
  • get a massage therapist to come do massages for both of you - massage is great for the muscle problems a stroke survivor has, and the stress you have (there may even be a way to work this into insurance)
  • Find a house call nail specialist and get a pedicure once a month - or go to one. Your'e worth it. Men get manicures and pedicures too !! but guys - find something you like and spoil yourselves.
  • get take out more often - or arrange to have groceries delivered. Or buy bulk frozen like from Schwan or other types of companies that deliver food to your door. It may cost a bit more -- but it's worth it.
  • If your stroke survivor is bed-ridden, and/or you need the help (financially) you can also use Meals on Wheels or a similar program through your city or county. Call around or look online.
  • make a weekend date with family or friends to bring over dinner and a movie - or go to their house - getting out is nice whenever you can.
  • Find caregiver support group in your area or online, having people that are going through or have gone through the same things are great to talk to.
  • take a class, or join an interest group - challenge yourself. if you can't get out - there are tons of choices online.
  • Invest in a computer - or 2. One for you, and one for your charge. Help him/her learn new things on the computer - pictures, email, playing games. One handed typing is tough - but you can do almost everything with the mouse. (there is a way to switch it to left handed too)
  • Have the stroke survivor help out around the house. There are many things they can't do - but there is plenty they can do - every little bit helps. Sometimes it just takes practice - they may have to do something a few times to get the hang of it. That's okay.
  • Sit outside for dinner, or go for a walk. Florida is nice because we can go outside and be comfortable all year - it is probably more difficult to get around with a wheelchair or unsteady walker in the snow and ice and cold ... bbrrrr. but do what you can. Fresh air and sunlight are good for everyone - even just a few minutes every day.
  • Ask family or friends to come sit with stroke survivor or take them somewhere once a week - so you can go to a class, workout, or group meeting, or book club - make a date with yourself
  • they nap - you can get a good bubble bath or work out or walk outside while they nap.
   
  • Be creative and find what works for your family. Just be sure to take care of you.
  • Eat healthy, exercise, and take care of yourself regularly

 


RATE THIS TIP

Please take a few minutes and send me your feedback !!!

Use the following scale to rate the objectives in this exercise

1 - not helpful or useful at all
2 - some of it was helpful or useful
3 - helpful and useful
4 - Very helpful and useful - The stroke survivor is making great progress

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Tip:

Are you a:   stroke survivor caregiver *professional

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Taking care of YOU
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What works for us notes
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The colors for additional tips hurt my eyes a bit much okay helped me read them
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Comments:

 

 


*professional in this case means one who works with stroke survivors,
like nurse, doctor, physical, speech, or occupational therapist etc.

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