Stroke Recovery: Eight ways to help or not to help

I guess you could say I am obsessed with helping people nourish their health, happiness and prosperity and when a close friend of mine has a need I do my best to make myself as available as possible.

One week ago I flew to Vancouver, Canada because a close relative of mine suffered a serious stroke. At this very moment as I type he is asleep in the hospital bed beside me.

This morning when I arrived at the hospital like everyday I want to help assist him with his recovery. Since Reflexology training is part of my tool box of life skills I offered to perform some basic movements to help stimulate circulation in the arm and leg that are ‘asleep’ at this time. Unlike other days today he said ‘no’. I felt disappointed since he told me before it helped. His response got me thinking and led to this article.

Please note my thoughts are based on no professional training as a caregiver. They are based on what I have noticed seem to be important things to consider when I work to help friends who have had cancer, stroke and other major health issues over the last decade.

I have also been asked in the past to present my seminar The W.O.N.D.E.R. Technique to Heart and Stroke Associations to help assist people who have had strokes and caregivers better balance their lives.

I recommend you consider the following ideas if you have a friend in need and you wonder how you should go about helping them. Then as always make your choice to use what is of value to you.

To Help or Not to Help: what do I need to consider when I want to help someone who has suffered a stroke

One

Always Check

I recognize that I am not a medical practitioner and that I need to ask the Doctor in charge if is it okay to do [fill in the blank] before I do it. Many actions could be counter productive at certain stages of a person’s recovery.

Two

Verify it is Wanted

I always need to make sure that each time I offer some action to someone it is something they still want.  See note above about my relative’s response to today’s offering of reflexology.

Three

Try Again

I am not afraid to offer the same assistance again at a different time since I know from helping previous friends one day one form of assistance is not wanted but it maybe desired the next day.

Four

People Change

My relative on most days since he had the stroke really likes the comforting feeling of reflexology. Before he had the stroke he used to tease me about doing reflexology. He said it was silly massage. My point is people’s perspective on actions may change after something happens in their lives so don’t hesitate to see if they are open to an action they did not like before their medical condition changed.

Five

Be Creative

I am open to being creative to help those in need. To help my friend who is currently not able to speak so clearly a friend and I tried several approaches: one offering him a pen and I held the paper. Another action was to hold My Net book upside down so he could punch the keys to share what was on his mind. I believe if during his recovery we were to push him to speak more clearly and he is not ready that would be counter productive. So instead we created solutions and they worked.

P.S. Once friend suggested an Apple iPad with its large keys would have been even better. I think so too but I don’t have one.

Six

The Power of Touch

Many hours have passed in silence while my relative sleeps with one of his hands being held by those who are visiting with him. I believe that just holding hands in silence can be very supportive.

Seven

Mental Space Needed

Over the years I have learned that giving a person in hospital mental space so they can sleep and I simply stay by the bed being present and quiet is reassuring to the patient that they are loved and gives them the rest they need to heal. If I am constantly asking them do you need this, do you need that I could end up raising their blood pressure! In fact, one friend of mine recalls that when she was in hospital recovering from Cancer she had moments when she wanted to scream to get people to give her mental space so she could rest and focus on healing. But she did not have the energy to tell anyone.

Eight

Add Music

In the plane on the way to see my friend that is in hospital I watched a documentary on The Musical Brain. This documentary illustrated the power of listening to music and the stimulation of neural activity in the brain. Most likely you know the pleasure of listening to music which can really help relax a person who is going through a physical trauma like a stroke. I recommend you consider the idea of a small music player like this and get some small speakers speaker if your friend uses a hearing aid like mine. Check with the person or someone close to them what type of music they will enjoy.

Okay, I stop now, my friend is still sleeping but my fingers need a rest.

I offer my blessings to you and your friends in need.

David