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Support For Your Loved One After A Stroke


Call 911 for your loved one if:

  • You have any of the following signs of a stroke:
    • Numbness or drooping on one side of your face
    • Weakness in an arm or leg
    • Confusion or difficulty speaking
    • Dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss
  • You cannot wake him.
  • He falls and hits his head.
  • He has a seizure.
  • He is lightheaded, short of breath, and has chest pain.
  • He coughs up blood.

Seek care immediately for your loved one if:

  • His arm or leg is painful, red, or larger than normal.
  • He feels weak, dizzy, or faint.
  • He falls without hitting his head.
  • His blood sugar level or blood pressure is higher or lower than his healthcare provider said it should be.
  • He bleeds heavily or you cannot stop bleeding from a cut or injury.

Contact your loved one's healthcare provider if:

  • He has a fever.
  • He has a rash.
  • You notice new or worsening symptoms.
  • He is extremely anxious or sad.
  • He has trouble sleeping.
  • You notice open sores anywhere on his body.
  • You see him choke or cough when he eats or drinks.
  • You have questions or concerns about his condition or care.

Know the warning signs of a stroke:

The word F.A.S.T. can help you remember and recognize warning signs of a stroke.

  • F = Face: One side of the face droops.
  • A = Arms: One arm starts to drop when both arms are raised.
  • S = Speech: Speech is slurred or sounds different than usual.
  • T = Time: A person who is having a stroke needs to be seen immediately. A stroke is a medical emergency that needs immediate treatment. Most medicines and treatments work best the sooner they are given.

Understand your loved one's strengths and weaknesses:

A stroke can affect a person in many ways. Understand what he can do on his own, and what help he may need. You can support him by doing the following:

  • Focus on what he can do. Encourage him to do as many self-care tasks as possible. Help him build on his strengths. Do not point out what he used to be able to do. Some effects of a stroke may be permanent.
  • Help him exercise his mind. Play games with him, or give him crossword puzzles to do. Mind exercises may help him improve problem solving skills and memory.
  • Give him simple step-by-step directions. He may have difficulty paying attention or completing tasks. Use simple, short sentences to help him complete tasks or understand what he needs to do.
  • Be patient. He may think and act slower after a stroke. Let him know that you are there to support him.

Understand your loved one's treatment plan:

He may need a number of therapies or medicines after a stroke. It is important for you to know the following:

  • The goals of therapy
  • Reasons for new medicines, and what side effects to report
  • The lifestyle changes he may need to make such as changes in diet, getting more exercise, or quitting smoking
  • What assistive devices he may need and how they are used
  • What equipment you may need in your home to care for him, such as hand rails or a raised toilet seat

Understand your loved one's insurance plan:

Find out what services are covered by his insurance plan. Understand the out-of-pocket costs. Talk to a social worker or case manager about services that are not covered.

Be a part of your loved one's therapies:

  • Go to therapy with him. Learn exercises and ways to help him cope with the physical effects of his stroke.
  • Help him practice the skills he learns in therapy. More practice may improve his recovery from a stroke.
  • Help him perform range of motion (ROM) exercises. ROM exercises are gentle, slow movements of joints. Ask his physical therapist how to do ROM exercises. ROM exercises can help increase flexibility, and decrease pain.

Help decrease your loved one's risk for another stroke:

  • Have him eat healthy foods. Ask his healthcare provider if he needs to be on a special diet. Healthy foods can decrease his risk for heart disease. It may also decrease his risk for other conditions that could cause another stroke.
  • Encourage him to quit smoking. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause lung damage or heart damage. It can also increase the risk for another stroke. Ask his healthcare provider for information if he currently smokes and needs help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to his healthcare provider before he uses these products.
  • Exercise with him. Exercise may lower blood pressure and prevent heart disease. Find an exercise that you both enjoy and can do together. Talk to his healthcare provider about the best exercise program for him.
  • Make sure he takes medicines as directed. Blood thinners and medicines to manage blood pressure or heart conditions can decrease the risk for another stroke. You may need to set an alarm. You may need to use other reminders to help him remember to take medicines on time.

Decrease the risk for falls in your home:

Your loved one may be at risk for falls. You can do the following to keep your home safe and decrease his risk for falls:

  • Tape electrical cords down or remove them from hallways and walkways.
  • Keep paths clear throughout your home.
  • Make sure your home is lighted well.
  • Put nonslip materials on surfaces that might be slippery. An example is your bathtub or shower floor.
  • Encourage him to use assistive devices, and wear glasses or hearing aids. Also remind him to ask for help when he gets in and out of the shower.

Ask for help:

If you have trouble caring for your loved one, ask his healthcare provider where to get help. You may be able to get home health aids or nurses to come to your home. You may also be able to get help with transportation to appointments. Learn about resources in the community that may be helpful to you and your loved one.

Join a support group:

It may be helpful to discuss your fears or concerns with others that care for stroke survivors. Other caregivers may understand how you feel. You may get ideas about how to support your loved one or cope with stress. He can also find a support group.

Take care of yourself:

Caring for a stroke survivor can be mentally, physically, and emotionally difficult. Ask family or friends to stay with your loved one so you can have a break. Take time for yourself to relax and enjoy activities. Eat healthy foods, exercise, and get plenty of rest.

For support and more information:

  • National Stroke Association
    9707 E. Easter Lane
    Centennial , CO 80112
    Phone: 1- 800 - 787-6537
    Web Address:
  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
    P.O. Box 5801
    Bethesda , MD 20824
    Phone: 1- 301 - 496-5751
    Phone: 1- 800 - 352-9424
    Web Address:
  • American Stroke Association
    7272 Greenville Ave
    Dallas , TX 75231
    Phone: 1- 888 - 478-7653
    Web Address:

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.