Published on June 14, 2016

After a stroke: Caring for a loved one at home

Your loved one has survived a stroke.

You may feel relieved that the worst has passed and the healing has begun. But the road ahead can still hold challenges—particularly at home. Safely managing life at home is an important part of a stroke survivor’s recovery.

couple in wheelchair“As a caregiver, you play a vital role in helping your loved one recover,” says Mindy Hillerman, Physical Therapist at Mercy Home Health. “However, you don’t have to take on that role alone. The therapists at Mercy Home Health can help.”

Prevent falls

Many stroke survivors lose some physical abilities after they have a stroke, which may increase their risk of falling.

To reduce the risk of your loved one falling at home:

  • Clear a path to the kitchen and toilet by moving furniture and any clutter from the floor.
  • Move electrical cords so they aren’t a tripping hazard.
  • Remove or secure any loose rugs.
  • Turn on night-lights so your loved one can safely see the way to the toilet in the dark.
  • Install grab bars in the tub or shower and a raised toilet seat in the bathroom. If your home has stairs, install handrails going up and down the stairs. Telephone and call devices should be easy to reach too.
  • Make sure your loved one wears nonskid shoes.

“These are just some of the things you can do,” Hillerman says. “A Mercy Home Health Occupational Therapist can assess your home and offer more ideas on how to make it safer.”

Make eating easier

Some stroke survivors have a hard time swallowing and can easily choke. If your loved one has problems swallowing, you can try:

  • Cutting food up into smaller pieces.
  • Pureeing food.
  • Offering thick liquids to drink. They are easier to swallow than thin liquids like water.

Also, make sure your loved one sits up straight when he or she eats or drinks. Encourage your loved one to take small bites of foods and small sips of drinks.

“Caregiving is a big job,” Hillerman says. “Mercy Home Health can make that job easier.”