For many, there is no life after a stroke. Stroke is one of Australia's biggest killers, ranking fourth in causes of death, after coronary heart disease, lung cancer and dementia. Its main demographic is older Australians - 71% of stroke victims are aged 65 years and over.
For those who survive a stroke, the majority will live with a disability and require disability care. Around two-thirds of survivors will depend on a carer for their daily care and support needs. Research confirms that stroke is the leading cause of disability. On current figures 386,900 Australians, 1.3% of the population, had experienced a stroke at some time in their lives. This means around 260,000 Australians live with a disability as a result of stroke.
Identifying the signs of a stroke
This week's topic is timed with National Stroke Week (31 August to 6 September 2020), the awareness raising campaign run by The Stroke Foundation.
Before discussing life after a stroke, I'll share with you the focus of The Stroke Foundation's campaign - identifying the signs of a stroke. The signs can be remembered through the acronym FAST:
- Face - has the person's mouth drooped?
- Arms - can they lift both arms?
- Speech - is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
- Time - it is critical to act fast and call an ambulance.
If you recognise the signs and seek immediate medical attention, there is a chance of a very good recovery.
What is a stroke?
A stroke occurs when blood cannot get into your brain due to a blocked or burst artery. Without any oxygen and nutrient rich blood supply, brain cells quickly die. The impact on the person depends on the area of the brain affected. Every survivor is impacted differently.
Some of common post-stroke problems include:
- Weakness on one side of the body
- Lack of control or coordination of limbs
- Difficulty swallowing
- Personality and behavioural changes
- Loss of thinking, memory, insight, speech and understanding
Thanks to medical research into neuroplasticity there have been great advances in stroke rehabilitation. Neuroplasticity involves retraining the brain to find new neural pathways that effectively bypass the dead brain cells. For further reading on neuroplasticity, I recommend Dr Norman Doidge's book, The Brain that Changes Itself .
For survivors, the rehabilitation on 'relearning how to do things' commences in hospital and continues after hospital discharge. Continued practice of the therapy and activities is critical. The first six months usually sees the most significant improvements, and further improvements can be experienced in years to come if the rehabilitation practices are followed.
Life after stroke
Home life will change.
The changes will range from the most straightforward - of making modifications to the home and acquiring special equipment, through to the more complex - the emotional rollercoaster of losing one's independence and dependance on a carer.
If the carer is the spouse, partner or parent, they may feel overwhelmed by their new role and stressed and isolated in their new circumstances.
None of this is easy.
It is during the transition from hospital to home life or residential care that DR Care Solutions can assist. We are ready to help make the transition as smooth as possible.
- Undertake a comprehensive care needs assessment informed by the wishes of the person, their carer and family members, and the hospital discharge plan;
- Develop a Life Plan™ outlining the recommended care supports, including home modifications; and
- With the person's approval, implement the plan.
If the person is under 65 years of age, they may be eligible for assistance through the National Disability Insurance Scheme. If they are over 65 years of age, assistance may be available through the Commonwealth Government's My Aged Care scheme. The difference between the two schemes is discussed in this blog: My Aged Care vs NDIS: What's The Difference In The World of Care.
For assistance in making the transition to life after a stroke, please feel free to call on me, Danielle Robertson at DR Care Solutions, for an initial discussion on how to plan for your care needs at this time.
DR Care Solutions offers expertise on how to set up the right care, support and assistance for your loved one, at the right time and in the right place.