Stroke can be a devastating medical event that can change lives, not only for victims, but also their family members. And, given that strokes will affect victims in a variety of ways, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to caring for those who are suffering from such a life altering situation. This means it is imperative that there is a level of understanding in exactly what stroke means for its victims on an individual basis, and therefore getting to know the specific impacts that the event has had on your family member or friend.

​​What Is a Stroke?

There are two types of stroke — Ischaemic Stroke and Haemorrhagic Stroke.

An Ischaemic Stroke is caused by an artery in the brain becoming blocked by a blood clot.

A Haemorrhagic Stroke is caused when a blood vessel in the brain breaks, causing bleeding.

The result of both types of stroke is that certain parts of the brain experience lack of blood flow, and therefore brain cells begin to die due to lack of oxygen.

How Does Stroke Affect People?

Different parts of the brain serve different functions, so depending on the area that is affected, strokes can have a range of impacts on its victims. These can include impaired cognitive function, change in behaviour, reduced ability to communicate, reduced ability to swallow, vision impairment, sensory impairment, and reduced motor function.

Such a broad range of issues means that no two stroke patients are the same, and so understanding how to best support a person who has suffered a stroke means understanding the specifics of his or her condition. Luckily, there is plenty of advice available to help those who are close to stroke victims.

Support Strategies

1. Learn about your loved one’s condition

As mentioned above, stroke can have a range of impacts on a person. They vary in both nature and severity, so the first thing you should do is learn about the effects that your loved one is experiencing. This will give you the best chance of providing useful care, and to prioritise according to the exact nature of your family member’s condition.

2. Learn new ways to communicate

Many stroke victims suffer from conditions such as aphasia and dysarthria. These affect the ability of an individual to verbally communicate, and so it is common to have to rely heavily on non-verbal methods of communication. These may include written communication, gestures, verbal expression, even computer assisted communication. This can obviously be distressing for loved ones, but it is every bit as distressing for the stroke victim, so patience is key to finding new ways to communicate and connect.

3. Encourage rehabilitation exercises

Rehabilitation exercises are extremely important in regaining some of the functionality that can improve bodily autonomy and quality of life. However, stroke victims with frontal lobe damage may experience difficulty planning ahead and staying on task so they may not take the initiative to do the therapy on their own.

With helpful encouragement from loved ones, stroke patients can learn to initiate activities themselves. It’s even better if you continue that encouragement and help to continue their rehabilitation by taking them to appointments etc.

4. Understand the invisible side of stroke

While many conditions associated with stroke have physical manifestations, such as mobility and speech impairment, others are not so visible. As a result, it can be difficult to identify when a stroke victim is struggling with mental health issues. Fatigue, depression, anxiety and attention deficit can become problems in the aftermath of a stroke, and they can manifest in subtle ways.

It may seem as though your loved one is being inconsiderate when in fact they are just confused. Learning these cognitive side-effects can help you better understand the behaviours of somebody who has had a stroke.

5. Support the caregiver

Being a primary carer for a stroke victim is a demanding job. Even professional carers can find themselves suffering exhaustion and anxiety due to the stresses of the job. One can only imagine how those feelings may be amplified for a loved one who has been thrust into a primary caregiving role unwittingly. It is therefore important to establish a support network around the stroke patient and the caregiver to help relieve some of the stresses of looking after somebody in such circumstances.

Whether it’s simple things like dropping off cooked meals, taking the person out for day trips or appointments, or helping out with some of the more hands-on activities, your help will establish a much needed support network that the primary carer can rely on when needed. This will then create a less stressful environment for both the caregiver and your loved one.

6. Maintain social connections

Becoming reliant on carers can sometimes lead to isolation, so it is important to help keep your loved one connected to their community. When somebody is going through a difficult time, the presence of friends and family can help alleviate some of the stresses and anxieties associated with it. Helping maintain social connections will go a long way in maximising quality of life.

Support Is Key

As you can see, there are several ways to help your loved one through this difficult time. Sometimes things may seem overwhelming, but your willingness to adopt some of these strategies will really assist in your loved one’s recovery, and help them live a happy and fulfilling life. By engaging a reputable plan manager, you can help support your loved one with navigating their NDIS finances. With your NDIS plan manager taking care of the financial aspect of your loved one’s rehabilitation process, you can therefore concentrate on being the best possible personal support.