Caring for our elderly parents can take so many different forms, can’t it? Some of us are caring for parents who are doing fine – just needing a little extra help. Other aging parents are in the midst of a progressively debilitating disease such as Alzheimer’s Disease or Parkinson’s Disease, which can slowly lead to more and more caregiving requirements, especially if they develop dementia symptoms.
Then there are the senior parents who are changed in a split second, such as a stroke victims. Even there, though, the caregiving needs can vary depending on whether it’s a mild, moderate, or major stroke. And like so many other issues facing the baby boomer generation and senior citizens, strokes have definitely been in the news a lot, including one that will hit home for many of us boomers and seniors – Bruce Springsteen’s bandmate, Clarence Clemons, has suffered a stroke, spotlighting a condition that strikes 795,000 Americans each year and kills 137,000.
On a more personal note, last week a friend asked me to do some research on stroke patients, and caring for stroke patients during their recovery period. After compiling her list, I knew I had to share this vital information with you as well.
To start off, you’ll find excellent overall information on “what is a stroke,” “what happens to the body during a stroke,” “what is the recovery period after the stroke like,” and more at excellent and extremely reputable sites like those listed below beginning with Medline Plus – A Service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health (NIH) – In their section, Stroke – Also called: Brain attack, CVA – you’ll find MANY papers, tutorials, videos, and other research materials to help you learn more about stroke. First, though, here’s an excellent guide to the symptoms of stroke and what to do! And they, as well as I, want to caution you –
If you are concerned you or someone you know is currently having a stroke – please CALL 911 or WHATEVER YOUR EMERGENCY SERVICES PHONE NUMBER IS. It’s ALWAYS better to be safe!!!
As they put it:
“Because stroke injures the brain, you may not realize that you are having a stroke. To a bystander, someone having a stroke may just look unaware or confused. Stroke victims have the best chance if someone around them recognizes the symptoms and acts quickly.
The symptoms of stroke are distinct because they happen quickly:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg (especially on one side of the body)
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
If you believe someone is having a stroke – if he or she suddenly loses the ability to speak, or move an arm or leg on one side, or experiences facial paralysis on one side – call 911 immediately.
Stroke is a medical emergency. Every minute counts when someone is having a stroke. The longer blood flow is cut off to the brain, the greater the damage. Immediate treatment can save people’s lives and enhance their chances for successful recovery.
Ischemic strokes, the most common type of strokes, can be treated with a drug called t-PA, that dissolves blood clots obstructing blood flow to the brain. The window of opportunity to start treating stroke patients is three hours, but to be evaluated and receive treatment, patients need to get to the hospital within 60 minutes.
A five-year study by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) found that some stroke patients who received t-PA within three hours of the start of stroke symptoms were at least 30 percent more likely to recover with little or no disability after three months.”
More excellent information can be found at:
- Stroke.org – They have an excellent site, full of resources including a full fact sheet on strokes as well as MUCH information and resources for caring for stroke patients – in a care facility or at home.
- Mayo Clinic – Has various materials to help, including “Coping and Support” for stroke victims and as well as those caring for stroke patients.
- WebMD – Another of my favorite resources, there is plenty of information to help here – from what happens to the body during a stroke to stroke recovery to stroke rehabiliation or rehab including caring for a stroke patient at home
Well, as you can see, this is not a simple subject, and I’ve barely scratched the surface, so I will be writing more about the topic of stroke recovery and rehab – including driving after a stroke – on Thursday and Saturday. 🙂 And I’d love to hear from you as well. If you have favorite resources or tips to help, we’d love it if you’d share them in the comments. I’ll also be sharing book resources with you in each article – starting with the three below, all of which got excellent reviews! Perfect for building up the Sandwich Generation library on the issues of stroke recovery and rehab. 🙂
- Living With Stroke: A Guide for Family and Patient – I loved what one review wrote – “This is a primer for strokes — it gives everything from a lesson on how the brain works to how a rehabilitation program is put together, to how to cope emotionally as a caregiver. It is a quick read, chock full of substantial information, clear and well-written.” And another reviewer wrote, “I especially liked the fact that the book does a nice job of covering psychological issues…things like behavioral, cognitive, and family systems approaches to psychological health. There are plenty of tools provided for dealing with cognitive distortion, pessimism, etc. The book is concerned with the health of the patient AND the health of family and friends.” He also shared the very important caveat to get the newer 2001 edition – not the older 1999 version. So if you order it used, be sure to specify that.
- Stroke and the Family: A New Guide (Harvard University Press Family Health Guides) – This book is available in Kindle as well as hardback or paperback. As Walter J. Koroshetz, M.D wrote in his review, “It covers all the basics of stroke care, from prevention to returning home from hospital through rehab. Dr. Stein’s book will be a ‘must’ for families and patients living with the after effects of stroke. The writing is clear and easy to understand, and the information-packed text uses patient vignettes skillfully to illustrate very important issues in an engaging and humane manner.”
- Stronger After Stroke: Your Roadmap to Recovery – Written by Peter G. Levine, co-director of the Neuromotor Recovery and Rehabilitation Laboratory, and a researcher with the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Cincinnati Academic Medical Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, this book is for the highly motivated stroke patient as well as for the family members caring for the stroke patients. The reviews were all highly positive, including “Todays date is Oct.15,2010. My husband had a stroke 08-27-2010 and I desperately needed something to help me through the life changing occurrence! I searched the internet for something and found this book! My Husband is now walking with a cane and (sometimes without)! He is 61 years old and a diabetic! So we’ve had our ups and downs! I bought a couple of other books but I keep referring back to this one because it has been very True to Form! All the situations that it said would happen has happened! So we are grateful for the information! Especially myself being the caregiver as well!”
Be sure to read part 2 of this series, Help for The Family Caring for Elderly Parents Who Are Stroke Patients. There’s some more great resources and books to help all of us in and out of the Sandwich Generation! And for links to the entire series on caring for elderly parents who are stroke patients, click here.