Help for Stroke Survivors

Surviving a stroke is becoming increasingly more common. That’s why Halifax Health initiated the Stroke Support Group and one of the many reasons Halifax Health offers home healthcare.

What is the stroke support group about?

The free support group is offered to both newly diagnosed stroke survivors and long-term stroke survivors. The helpful sessions take place on the fourth Tuesday of every month from 3 - 5 pm in Classroom F of the France Tower.

A variety of topics explored include, but are not limited to: equipment to assist with driving, health, nutrition, activity, challenges in communication, patient independence, role changes for caregivers and stroke survivors, and resources. In addition to the meetings there is a private Facebook group, so members can reach out to one another when they aren’t meeting. Evidence shows that it’s important to have a strong social network.

Why is this support group important?

Stroke survivors and their caregivers need a supportive environment where they can share their experiences and connect with others. Quality of life and long-term disability are two challenges for stroke survivors and working through these issues can play an important role in the healing process.

Being a member of this support group can play a vital role in stroke rehabilitation. This forum allows stroke survivors and their caregivers the opportunity to talk and discuss their feelings without being ashamed or worrying about criticism. Support groups are about finding hope and that is vital during the stroke rehabilitation process, which sometimes can be long and difficult.

What is stroke rehabilitation and follow-up care?

The time frame for stroke recovery and the amount of functional recovery to expect are hard to predict. It could take weeks to years. Patients need encouragement to actively participate in rehabilitation to improve the odds for a better outcome. The type and amount of rehabilitation needed depends on specific stroke deficits.

Rehabilitation and follow-up care vary widely, depending on the severity of the stroke's damage. Some people can speak and walk, but often with delays or assistance. Some paralysis or impairment on one side of the body and face is common. Still others may be bedbound and unable to communicate. Home care is frequently necessary, whether from a professional care team such as Halifax Health - Care At Home, a committed family member, or a combination.

Is going home after a stroke the right choice?

For people who have had a minor stroke and are experiencing few lingering effects, going home poses few problems. For those whose strokes were more severe, going home usually depends on these factors:
•    Ability to care for yourself
o    Rehabilitation should be focused on daily activities such as bathing, cooking or cleaning.
•    Ability to follow medical advice
o    It’s very important to take medication as prescribed and follow medical advice.
•    Access to a caregiver
o    Someone, willing and able, should be available when needed.
•    Ability to move around and communicate
o    Stroke survivors who are unable to properly move around or communicate are at risk in an emergency or may feel isolated.

No matter the condition, home care involves a combination of physical and emotional attention. Patience, compassion and encouragement are necessary.

What changes should be made at home?

Living at home successfully often depends on how well your home can be adapted to meet your needs.
•    Safety
o    Be sure to remove anything that might be dangerous such as trip hazards. Tips include taking up throw rugs, testing the temperature of bath water or wearing rubber-soled shoes, or installing handrails in your bathroom.
•    Accessibility
o    Moving furniture or building a ramp may be needed to allow patients to move freely within the house.
•    Independence
o    Home modifications such as adding grab bars or transfer benches may be needed to provide independence.

How can Halifax Health - Care At Home help?

Halifax Health - Care At Home provides skilled nurses that offer coordination of care, including pain management and medication monitoring and education in your home.

Specialized therapists include speech, occupational, and physical. Speech therapists help stroke survivors re-learn language skills such as talking, reading and writing, and share strategies to help with swallowing problems. Occupational therapists help survivors learn strategies to manage daily activities such as eating, bathing, dressing, writing or cooking. They can also aid with adaptive equipment needs. Physical therapists aid with problems in moving and balance and suggest exercises to strengthen muscles for walking, standing and other activities.

Halifax Health - Care At Home rehabilitation features:

•    Improved mobility
•    Improved ability to do self-care tasks
•    Tools to prevent further complications
•    Pain management
•    Providing hope and encouragement

By partnering with the Council on Aging, the area's pioneer in senior services, Halifax Health - Care At Home also provides private-duty nursing and home health aides to perform personal care activities such as bathing and preparing meals. Additionally, Care At Home can provide medical social worker resources such as access to meals, financial assistance, and support group information.

What are some stroke recurrence risk factors?

Medical conditions linked to increased stroke risk include hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemia, sleep-disordered breathing, and atrial fibrillation. Certain lifestyle factors can contribute to stroke risk, including physical inactivity, poor nutrition, smoking, alcohol consumption, and use of illicit drugs.

Lifestyle modifications that may improve blood pressure, blood glucose, and blood cholesterol include weight loss, limited alcohol use, increased physical activity, reduced dietary sodium intake (below 2.34 g/day), smoking cessation, and a balanced diet high in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products and low in saturated fat.