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Identifying senior care needs and setting expectations following a stroke has long been accepted as the first steps in stroke recovery. For many years, doctors have been unsure if the brain could actual heal itself after a stroke, but a recent study may provide some insights and potentially changing senior care.
Research now indicates1 that in many instances, a brain can heal itself after a stroke, even though it has been deprived of blood and may have damaged nerve cells. While physical and mental changes can occur following a stroke, stroke victims can and do regain function; the brain is a fighter and does attempt to heal itself. Cells that are damaged but not beyond repair begin to regenerate; new cells are even created in a process called neurogenesis.
There is hope for recovery from a stroke even in elderly and previously ill individuals. The best outcomes of course involve comprehensive post-stroke senior care and early rehabilitation – physical, occupational and speech therapies – as well as a thorough understanding of what to expect after a stroke.
Expectations Following a Stroke
Strokes affect everyone differently depending on the severity of the stroke, which side of the brain was affected, which part of the brain was damaged, and a person’s overall health before the stroke. While the most rapid recovery usually occurs during the first three to four months after a stroke, some stroke survivors continue to recover well into the first and second year post-stroke.
Common physical, mental, and emotional symptoms following a stroke include:
Post-stroke depression afflicts 30-50% of stroke survivors. This depression is typically characterized by lethargy, irritability, sleep disturbances, lowered self-esteem, and withdrawal. Don’t be surprised if your loved one is experiencing these challenges, seek professional guidance and learn how to help them cope with the aftermath of this debilitating experience.
Post-Stroke Senior Care
In addition to physical therapy and other rehab programs, additional assistance during the recovery process can make a big difference in how quickly your loved one recovers. Awareness, sensitivity, and patience are critical components of post-stroke care.
Many stroke patients can in fact lead very healthy and fulfilling lives once again, so don’t be discouraged. The best way for a brain to rewire itself after a stroke is for it to get used – reading, crossword puzzles, card games and other stimuli, including music, singing and social interaction help trigger cognitive awareness and jump start the brain. Don’t let a stroke patient be reclusive and encourage them to re-engage on every possible front.