When you have a stroke, you may feel all alone like you're the only one whose life has ground to a halt while the world keeps spinning around you.
But you're not alone. And you can get your life back on track.
“We generally see ischemic, or clot strokes, in an older population: Maybe 70 years and up,” says Deb Wald, a physical therapist at West Valley Medical Center.
“Generally, we see aneurysms, or hemorrhagic strokes, in a younger population. The impact for these younger individuals is that a lot of them are still working. They may have young families,” she explains. “It just turns their whole world upside down.”
No matter how old you are, here are 7 ways to regain your confidence after a stroke.
1. Stick with Rehab
“The optimal time period for recovery is the first six months,” Deb explains. “That rate of recovery is fairly steep. Then, as they move to that six-month mark and beyond, things start to flatten out a little bit.”
But, she adds, it can also be a psychological wall.
“It's not to say that they're not recovering, but they're just not making the dramatic gains that they might have been in the first six months,” Deb says. That's why sticking with rehab is so important.
2. Rally Your Support System
People who get through rehab successfully tend to have a good support system.
“When patients have family members interacting with them on a regular basis when they're helping them to follow through with activities that therapy is working on, and they're actually trying to keep that process of relearning going those are the people that do the best,” says Deb.
3. Get Back into Activities
“Try to go back to some of the activities that you were doing before,” suggests Deb.
These activities may need to be adapted to fit your physical needs. But “getting reintegrated into the community is a big part of recovery,” she says.
Stroke patients sometimes express feeling a loss of their sense of worth. “Finding things to do that give you a sense of value and contribution” can help you regain that confidence, says Deb.
4. Focus on Regaining Independence
Regaining independence is another challenge for some stroke patients.
Also read: Lifestyle Changes To Manage Stroke
“It's important to try to help you learn to be as independent as you can be,” says Deb.
But the challenge sometimes comes from family members. It's a matter of “teaching them to allow you the time to perform a task. Sometimes it takes a lot longer,” she says.
5. Try to Return to Work Even if it's Just Part Time
Many stroke patients cannot return to full-time employment, but even just taking up a part-time job can help you regain confidence. The extra income can also help cover medical expenses.
“I think getting back to employment gives you a sense of worth. You're doing something to contribute,” says Deb.
6. Remember Caregivers Need Breaks
“Set it up so there's some kind of outside help, so your caregiver gets a break and gets to do something for himself,” says Deb.
She calls this “care for the caregiver.”
7. Talk about Emotional and Psychological Challenges with Your Rehab Team
Don't be afraid to tell your medical team that you're struggling. They may be able to share stories with you of patients who have gone through similar situations and come out just fine.
“Sometimes, it helps to know that there were other people wearing the shoes that you're wearing now and to see where they got to,” adds Deb.