As a caregiver for someone who had a stroke, you have a lot to do and too much on your mind. Try this list of suggestions for getting organized, saving time, and helping the person you love and yourself through this challenging time. This list is by no means complete. Add to it and share it with others. It might be the ice-breaker you need for your next support group meeting.
- Create a hospital packing list. Suggested items to include: driver’s license, insurance card, power of attorney, living will, list of medications, important phone numbers, robe, slippers, underwear, socks, pajamas, glasses, something to read or do such as puzzles, a book, music, a photo or other special keepsake, and earplugs (adapted from a list developed by Registered Nurse, Deborah Leader)
- Make a list of medications. Leave a copy at home and carry one in your wallet. Include the following information: name of medication, dosage, how often it’s taken, and when it was last taken.
- Check the house for safety. Your friend or family member who has had a stroke may have trouble with balance and walking. See what you can do to reduce the risk of fall and injury, for example, installing a grab bar in the bathroom.
- Take care of yourself! Find time now and then to do something for yourself, touch base with your network of family and friends, and ask for help when you need it. Vent to your friends so you can be helpful and positive when you’re with your loved one. Optimism is a key piece of recovery.
- Contact his/her employer. In addition to knowing that it will be some time before the person who had the stroke can return to work, you may also need to speak with his or her employer about sick leave and disability benefits.
- Inquire about Social Security benefits. It can take some time to get the wheels of government bureaucracy in motion, so it doesn’t hurt to check with the Social Security Administration about benefits as soon as you can.
- Find a support group. Talking with others in the same situation can do a lot for your morale and give you other ideas and suggestions for making your way through day-to-day challenges.
- Google “one-handed living.” Help your loved one do things for him- or herself with special tools. It’s amazing what you can find on the internet.
- Turn on the TV or some music! Sometimes people who can’t speak after a stroke can sing. If your loved one seems to enjoy the TV or music, turn it up! It’s a great way to exercise the brain.
- Get some rest. You have more to do these days. Chores and other activities that used to seem so important may have to wait now. Let them go and be easy on yourself.
Please print this list here. There are also spaces for you to write in your own Caregiver Tips. (PDF)