No this isn’t a one liner with a joke at the end. My Mom stroked in her sixties and was paralyzed on the right side. She was in a wheelchair for the next 20 years. It opened up a whole new world sometimes difficult sometimes funny. Sometimes frightening.
Whether your loved one is stroked, parlayzed or diabled in other ways there are many things you can do to make it easier for everyone involved and pleasanter for them.
There is a fabulous magazine The Stroke Connection. First thing I would do is subscribe to it.
Talk TO the person not around them or about them Their body might not be working aswell but their brain is. My Mom was also Aphasic meaning very limited speech. Her memory was sharp. Her interests were the same. Food and jewelry, Animal Planet on TV.
Patience. Be patient. If you think its frustrating for you imagine how incredibly frustrating and disheartening it can be for the person dealing with a loss of limbs or speech and a loss of personal freedom and privacy.
Take them with you. No matter how difficult it was or how slow we took my Mom with us whenever we could. Whether it was to a store or traveling from New Jersey to Florida. It was comical at times but it was so good for her. I took her to Bloomingdales one time not realizing a major snowstorm was coming our way. I tried to explain to her that the weather was turning on us and we had to leave. Because of her stroke she was sometimes a wee bit childish and stubborn. She started grabbing the counters and dragging her good foot so I couldn’t move the wheelchair, I had to do a wheelie and pop the chair back . I ran out of the store with her screaming. Quite a sight. Refer back to patience.
Good foot bad foot. See above . We would refer to her good foot or bad foot, Her good arm or bad arm. Not really the right thing to do.
Advocate. Any patient needs an advocate, particularly elderly patients. I would always stay in the hospital with her or go to the rehab where she stayed for a time and spsend the day with her. Staff is often overwhelmed. Even though our family includes a lot of doctors, my Dad as well, you are still at the mercy of whatever facility you are in. In one hospital stay they put her breakfast in front of her, on her paralyzed side so she couldn’t access it. Had I not come in first thing in the morning she wouldn’t have had food.
Question: Question whatever paraphenalia doctors order. My Mom was put in an expensive , heavy leg brace in order to try and give her stability and aid in her “walking’. It was awful. An air brace was 100% better. The same went for ordering her a hospital beds, an air mattress, a tray table. All three arrived broken and it was a fight to get replacements.
Pharmacy: Get friendly with your pharmacist so she/he knows you and knows the patient. This avoids a lot of mix ups and comes in handy when you need something quickly or something special.
Handicapped Accessible: Many places still aren’t. Many places say they are but they aren’t geared to wheelchairs. Feel free to duke it out when you come upon a situation. Let the Board of Health or even your local newspaper know. Been there, done that.
Meds: Keep a list and chart medications the person takes. In case of an emergency you can quickly had the responders the information they need.
Alternate comunication: You can make a list of everyday items, feelings, choices.You can draw pictures, the person can draw pictures, you can play “charades” and sometimes it’s just intuition but don’t let the person shut down and don’t get lazy and sit in silence.
Clothing: Depending on the persons handicap there are a lot of ways to make it easier for them to have independence. Clothing with snaps or velcro work well. You can replace buttons with velcro. Oversize armholes and necklines make it less of a struggle for them to dress themselves or for you to dress them if needed. Shoes come with velcro closings. Socks come with rubber on the bottom . Medical supply stores carry a lot of great assistance items.
Grab bars. We put grab bars everywhere. With only use of one side it gave my Mom safety and support. We got her a really strong heavy night table and put one on the side of this as well.
Home: When we moved my Mom in with us my husband sat in her wheelchair and navigated his way around the house. He then adjusted doors and built ramps. If you haven’t got a handy hubby hire a handyman.
Home Health Aide: We were lucky to get a wonderful, wonderful woman who helped with my Mom’s care. There are some out there that are pure Angels. Be selective, it’s worth it.
There is much more I probably haven’t covered but this is a start if you find yourself in the caretaker position. One morething, for me I wanted to be with my Mom 9-5 but I still had a family. My children were extremely helpful with her right down to the diapering. But-big BUT it’s important to take time off so you don’t wear yourself out.