If someone you know has had a stroke, it's likely that you're going to have lots of questions.
If you're caring or going to be caring for someone who's had a stroke, you may feel particularly overwhelmed. But you don't have to do it all on your own.
These are our tips to help you find the support you need.
1. Ask questions
Often people don't choose to become carers it just happens. You probably feel that you're doing what anyone else would do in the same situation. But this can also mean that you're completely unprepared for the role. So it's vital that you get the right information and support to help you.
In the early days, you're probably just focusing on one day at a time, which is completely understandable. There are a lot of changes to come to terms with. But staying informed will help you feel more in control and confident about making decisions when you need to.
So don't be afraid to ask the stroke team questions, even if it's weeks or months down the line. It's important that you and your family understand what happened and what's likely to happen next. You can also contact our Stroke Helpline at any time if you have a question.
2. Find out exactly what support you can get
The idea of your friend or family member returning home can be particularly overwhelming, especially if they still need a lot of support. Ask the stroke team about the support that will be provided and what you will need to do the more you can learn whilst your loved one is in hospital, the better you'll feel about coping at home.
Ask the nurses and therapists to show you how to help with things like eating and drinking, dressing, cleaning their teeth or practising their speech and language or physiotherapy exercises.
Sometimes, returning home isn't always the best or most suitable option, so you may need to consider other ones like sheltered housing or a care home. This can be a difficult decision to make, so having the right information is essential. You'll need to find out from your social worker what support your local authority can provide in finding and paying for a suitable place. Our leaflet Accommodation after stroke can guide you and your family through the things you need to consider and the people you need to talk to.
3. Ask for a carer's assessment
If you're a carer your local authority needs to make sure that your needs are being considered too. So you're entitled to an assessment with a social worker (or someone else from social services) to find out what your needs are and what help they can offer. So make sure you get this. Also ask about what financial support you can get, as you may be entitled to receive certain benefits if you're caring for someone.
Things are likely to change over time. If you have an assessment early on, you may not have a good understanding of exactly what help you need. Social services should review your needs from time to time to see whether they have changed, but you can ask for a review at any time. So if your situation changes, make sure you ask for a review straight away. Don't let things get unmanageable before you ask for help.
4. Look after yourself
Caring for someone is a huge responsibility and demands a lot. So it's essential that you look after yourself. Don't feel guilty about needing to focus on yourself from time to time you can't look after someone properly if you're ill or feeling stressed and exhausted.
Take regular breaks. Your social worker may be able to arrange respite care or a sitting service that can give you some time to yourself, or ask other friends and family members to help. Try to organise the day so that you have at least a little time for yourself. This will be really important, especially as time goes on.
5. Don't be afraid to ask for help
Caring for someone is a lot to take on by yourself, so don't be afraid to ask for help. Talk to your social worker about exactly what support you can get even if you feel you don't need it to begin with, it will help to know in case things change.
Take family and friends up on their offers to help. Have a list of jobs and tasks that people can do for you, so you know what to tell them when they do ask even small things like doing some shopping or cooking a meal may help to make your week just a little bit easier.
But you also need emotional support. Caring can be a lot to cope with, so it may help to talk to someone who really understands. Look up your local stroke group or carers groups, where you'll be able to meet people who are dealing with similar situations and can offer support and advice.
Find out more
- If you have any questions about stroke or the kind of support you can get as a carer, call our Stroke Helpline.
- We also have support services across the UK including coordinators that can offer advice and support and stroke clubs and groups where you can meet other people affected by stroke. Click here to find out what's available in your area.
- There's also more information and tips in our guide Supporting a stroke survivor along with other organisations that can help.
- Stroke is a condition that is often associated with older people but anyone can have a stroke including babies and children. The causes of childhood stroke are very different from those of adults.