Strokes are one of the most terrifying traumas families can experience. They afflict nearly 800,000 Americans each year, and they often fall out of the clear blue sky. One minute everything is great, and then BAM: it’s all different.
There are currently 7 million survivors across the country, and a full two-thirds are still disabled in some way. Recovery may be long and difficult, and stroke victims often require a great deal of caregiver assistance as they regain lost memory, cognitive ability, and motor control.
The physical side is very hard for the victims, but family members usually take the brunt of the emotional pain caused by a stroke. A parent or sibling may be completely unrecognizable as the person they once were. They may not remember your name, your face, or your life together, and be unable to perform tasks as simple as using a doorknob. Toss in the complex logistical and personal stresses of a new caregiving role, and managing a stroke can be one of the most difficult experiences of anyone’s life.
Fortunately, there is help out there. Stroke caregiver resources are plentiful, and finding a solid community with an excellent portfolio of experienced professionals can be the difference between losing your grip and spreading your wings as you embrace your journey as a caregiver. With the following resources, you will be well on your way to a healthy caregiving experience that fosters confidence and nurtures your own wellbeing.
The first three things healthcare professionals will tell you about strokes is they are preventable, they are preventable, and lord be praised, they are preventable.
That’s what Million Hearts is all about. In conjunction with the CDC, the initiative aims to prevent over 1 million heart attacks and strokes over the next five years. It’s a fantastic ahead-of-the-game resource that offers advice on everything from heart-healthy habits to hard facts and data.
Now you may be saying to yourself, “this it’s too late for us, why are we talking about prevention now?” Simple: the fact of the matter is, 25% of stroke victims will suffer another stroke—possibly a much more catastrophic one—within 5 years.
You can’t change the past, but you can always work towards a better future. Cardiovascular health is the leading cause of death in the country, with heart disease and strokes accounting for more deaths than cancer and accidents combined. Fortunately, unlike the last two, cardiovascular issues can be almost entirely mitigated with a little info and effort, and that’s what makes Million Hearts such a powerful stroke caregiver resource.
Constant Therapy is about just that: getting the therapy you need when you need it with the swipe of a screen.
After a stroke, patients can require extensive physical, speech, and occupational therapy to fully recover. This usually begins as in-patient, and transitions to out-patient therapy as they improve.
Unfortunately, insurance can take time to sort out as caregiving circumstances evolve, and it’s common for families to experience lags in coverage and delays in care. This is where Constant Therapy has your back.
Constant Therapy is an app for your smartphone or tablet that helps you create a customized program tailored to your rehabilitation goals. Whether you’re working independently or with a clinician, Constant Therapy gives you 24/7 access to the latest science-based speech, language, and cognitive therapy exercises so your loved one can stay on track to recovery.
American Stroke Association
The American Stroke Association is an excellent all-round website that covers stroke topics from prevention through recovery. Their mission is about making stroke literature and information as available and accessible as possible. You can comb through their Stroke Resource Library and explore their caregiver support page to learn more about the complications and challenges of caregiving for a loved one who has suffered a stroke.
In particular, the American Stroke Association has a lot of nuanced content for caregivers, especially for the personal and emotional challenges they can expect. Yes, you are caring for someone who has experienced a major medical event, but you have to stay healthy too if you want to keep them healthy.
Fun fact: the global depression rate is around 3.8%. For caregivers? 20%.
That’s an enormous health crisis, and it stems from a lack of knowledge and support for the 48 million non-professional caregivers looking after family and friends in need. Worse, caregivers providing 9 hours or more of service a week are 82% more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease themselves.
Without a doubt, caregiving can be a lot, and your overall health and wellness is essential to being an effective caregiver for a person who is struggling after having a stroke. The American Stroke Association puts that literature into your hands so you can be the caregiver you need to be.
National Aphasia Association
Aphasia is a particularly challenging complication for stroke victims and their loved ones that impairs speech and the ability to read and write. It can be so severe that speech is nearly impossible, and may include complications like an inability to relate objects with their names.
The National Aphasia Association is dedicated to providing support and community for caregivers and their loved ones suffering from aphasia, and they can connect you with regional affiliates to get you the resources and support you need.
Information is great, but without an excellent community to support you and curate that mountain of information with real-world experience, you’re going to waste hours and hours on frustrating trial-and-error. That’s fine if you have a train set, but when you’re a caregiver you can’t afford to tinker. You need answers. Today.
This is where I-Ally is going to be your best friend and confidant. We are a global community of experienced industry professionals and in-home caregivers just like you who have been living your caregiving journey with our own loved ones.
A support structure like I-Ally might be the most valuable stroke caregiver resources on this list. Your head is going to be spinning most days, and members can provide you with answers based on real-world experience so you can make informed decisions as unfamiliar circumstances evolve.
Caregiving is a lot, and one of I-Ally’s greatest strengths is our focus on one of the most difficult demographics in the industry: Millennials. 60% of new caregivers are Millennials or even younger, and it’s an extremely challenging time in someone’s life to fill the caregiving role. If you’re under 40, you’re likely balancing your career, a family, a mortgage—you’re in the midst of the maelstrom of life’s crazy hustle.
And then your father has a stroke.
Brother’s in Memphis. Mom passed. Can’t afford professional care.
It’s dad. It’s up to you.
But You’re Not Alone. You Can Do This.
With a plan, some knowledge, and a community for support and guidance, caring for a loved one who has suffered a stroke can be a healing, uplifting experience for everyone. We won’t lie; it’s tough, but these stroke caregiver resources will empower you to be the best caregiver you can be while discovering your best and most fulfilling life along the way.
Visit I-Ally to learn more about becoming part of the caregiving community.