Health tips to care for patients who have suffered a stroke
Recommendations and treatment for relatives and carers
- Talk naturally to the patient.
- Speak slowly using easy words and short sentences and helping with gestures.
- Ask questions with yes and no answers.
- Give them time to respond. Do not show impatience when it comes to responding and do not try and answer for them.
- Do not shout.
- You can use alternative means of communication, such as boards with everyday images on them.
The degree of movement will depend on each patient.
- Try to encourage them to do the exercises recommended by the physiotherapist.
- Move joints and avoid incorrect positions.
- When moving a patient, never touch the affected side.
- Avoid long periods in the same position, change the patient’s position every four hours.
- Use cushions or pillows to protect areas that rub.
- It is important that the patient is out of bed for as long as possible.
- When they first start to walk, stop them from falling
Sleep and rest
- Create a quiet atmosphere.
- Avoid letting them sleep during the day, except during one afternoon nap.
- Provide a source of light so that they can orientate themselves during the night.
- Always taking into account the patient’s condition, try to have them help as much as possible with their own personal hygiene.
- Dry them properly and make sure to dry skin folds.
- Hydrate and protect the skin.
- Do not give them alcoholic drinks because they cause dry skin.
- Watch bony prominences to prevent pressure sores.
- Never forget oral hygiene.
- Use comfortable clothes that are easy to put on and take off (tracksuit, elasticated, etc.) And shoes that fit properly.
- Start dressing the patient on the affected side and undressing them on the side that is not affected.
- Try to make sure they are sitting down when dressing and undressing them.
- Use shoehorns.
- Remember that the patient feels the same degree of cold or heat as the carer, do not give them too many layers.
- Remove obstacles (such as rugs and chairs) that may be trip hazards.
- Adapt the home to the new situation (fitting bars, a taller toilet or shower, etc.).
Going to the toilet
Constipation is the most common problem. The following advice is recommended to avoid it:
- Follow a diet rich in fibre
- Establish a fixed routine for going to the toilet
- Promote mobility.
- Go to the toilet when possible.
- Laxatives or enemas may be provided on prescription.
To combat diarrhoea the patient should:
- Eat more dry foods.
- See a doctor if they have diarrhoea for more than two days.
- Take note of the quantity and frequency of urine (incontinence, urine infection and retention).
- If the patient is incontinent, use pads or slips.
- Keep the skin clean and dry, use protective ointments.
- If there is only a small amount of incontinence, encourage bladder retraining.
- Suggest they go to the toilet more often.
- The patient must drink one and a half litres of liquid a day and reduce liquid intake from late afternoon onwards.
- A varied diet rich in proteins and fibre and low in salt is recommended, avoiding fats and fried foods.
- If the patient has difficulty swallowing (dysphagia):
- Adopt the correct position, making sure that the patient is seated upright.
- Feed them on the healthy side.
- Avoid distractions.
- Use small mouthfuls, do not use straws or small bottles.
- If they have a cough, use thickeners when indicated.
- Food should be given in small portions bit by bit, make sure that pieces are not left in their mouth.
Leisure and recreational activities
- Try to ensure that the patient continues to have a social life and keeps up with their interests, bearing in mind their limitations.
- Keep the patient distracted.
- Avoid the patient becoming isolated.
- It is normal for patients to lose their sexual desire initially. This will gradually recover over the course of a few months.
- It is very important to talk to their partner about any fears they may have.
- Fear of suffering another stroke during sex is generally unfounded.
- Ask the doctor about the specific case.
- Paralysis may make sex trickier, but not impossible.