Recovery after a stroke looks different for each individual, and depends on a wide range of factors.
Most importantly, stroke recovery depends on urgent treatment and consistent rehabilitation.
Let’s take a look at the recovery timeline following a stroke, including the treatments and priorities for helping an individual maintain the best quality of life after a stroke.
What happens in the hours, days, and months following a stroke?
A stroke is an emergency. If you notice a loved one exhibiting signs of a stroke, call 911 immediately so medical staff can begin treating the person right away.
In the hours following a stroke
To identify stroke symptoms, experts say to use the FAST test:
- Face: Ask the person to smile, and note if one side of the face droops
- Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms, and note if one drops
- Speech: Ask the person to speak a simple phrase, and listen for any slurred speech
- Time: Call 911 immediately if you notice any of these symptoms
In the ambulance, medical staff will prepare the patient and the receiving hospital for treatment.
Once they arrive at the hospital, the staff can scan the brain and implement emergency treatment depending on the type of stroke.
An ischemic stroke is caused by blood clots, so the staff can work to break up the clot.
A hemorrhagic stroke is when a ruptured blood vessel causes bleeding in the brain. Medical staff will use medicine or surgery to stop the bleeding.
In the days and months following a stroke
Once the cause of the stroke is identified and treated, rehabilitation will help the person recover and regain any functions or abilities that were affected by the stroke.
Some people recover quickly and completely, while others recover within a few months. Others may experience long-term effects, including:
- Memory problems
- Trouble speaking
- Weakness or paralysis
- Depression and anxiety
- Fatigue or trouble sleeping
In the days following a stroke, your loved one’s care team will evaluate the full effects and develop a rehabilitation plan.
Your loved one’s rehabilitation team will likely include physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists. These experts will help with strength, balance, daily activities, and difficulty swallowing or speaking.
Many medical experts agree that the first three to six months following a stroke are the most important for recovery, and the period where seniors often see the most improvement.
Assisted living may be the right choice for this time in their recovery, to keep your loved one near their care providers. The Kensington Reston offers on-site rehabilitation services and a round-the-clock staff of care professionals.
Accepting a new reality after stroke
Life after stroke can bring many new challenges for victims and their families.
In an instant, your loved one’s life can change and they may lose abilities that used to be so simple and easy.
It’s important for stroke survivors and their families to seek the help they need, not just physically but mentally and emotionally as well. Depression is common among stroke victims, and can significantly affect their recovery.
Stroke rehabilitation that incorporates a whole-person approach is best for survivors because it focuses on physical, mental, and emotional health.
The Kensington Reston’s HealthPro rehabilitation team values a multidimensional approach to wellness that includes private, educational programs that focus on helping residents live their best, most independent lives.
Additionally, stroke survivors are at a greater risk of experiencing a second stroke, so stroke prevention is an essential part of the recovery journey.
Life after stroke
The effects of a stroke will vary depending on the severity and the area of the brain affected.
It also depends on the overall health of the person, and how quickly they were able to receive treatment.
For some, recovery can take days or weeks, while others can take months or even years.
The good news is, that stroke rehabilitation helps many survivors significantly regain the functions they have lost. And if they’re unable to fully regain it, rehabilitation will help them learn appropriate compensation strategies.
How does rehabilitation after stroke help seniors?
Each type of therapy helps seniors boost or maintain specific skills.
Let’s take a look at how physical, occupational, and speech therapies target these skills:
- Physical therapy: Targets mobility, balance, range of motion, and physical strength
- Occupational therapy: Targets self-care skills such as bathing, dressing, feeding, and grooming
- Speech therapy: Targets communication, memory, and trouble swallowing or chewing
Rehabilitation help seniors maintain maximum mobility, improve functional ability, and adapt to life changes.
Stroke rehabilitation is essential for both the emotional and physical health of an individual.
How to prevent a stroke
Your loved one’s risk of having a second stroke increases after their first stroke.
To help prevent a second stroke, continue to regularly follow up with your loved one’s care team, including their primary care physician, therapists, neurologist, and psychologist.
Risk factors for strokes include:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Poor diet
After a stroke, it’s even more important to adopt healthier habits — especially if the person is impacted by any of these risk factors.
Your loved one’s doctor may suggest certain medications, or lifestyle changes such as well as exercising, quitting smoking, and trying the MIND diet.
The MIND diet includes aspects of the Mediterranean diet and DASH diet. It’s rich in veggies, fish, beans, nuts, whole grains, olive oil, and poultry.
To help your loved one achieve as much independence as possible following a stroke, it may be helpful to consider moving them to a senior living community.
Some communities, such as The Kensington Reston, are fully equipped to support all aspects of post-stroke care.
How The Kensington Reston supports quality of life after a stroke
Our “full spectrum” allows us to meet our residents’ needs where they are, and accommodate them through any life changes.
This includes specialized memory care for even the most advanced stages of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as rehabilitation services and gourmet dining to accommodate a range of dietary needs.
All residents also have access to a full calendar of life enrichment events to build friendships and boost their overall health and wellness with engaging activities.
The Kensington Promise is to love and care for your family as we do our own.
No matter how their care needs change over time, we promise to be here to support them and help them thrive.
Following a stroke, we are able to meet all of your loved one’s rehabilitation and care needs as they recover.
Reach out to our team today to learn more about how we can improve and maintain your loved one’s quality of life after a stroke in our safe, supportive, loving community.