When brain cells are
damaged or die, the body parts controlled by those cells don't work like they
did before. The loss of function may be mild or severe. It could be short-term
or permanent. How well your loved one recovers depends on how much of the brain
is damaged, where the damage is, and how fast the blood supply returns to the
Many people who have a stroke recover. But a
stroke can cause very serious problems. Of the people who survive a stroke, 15
to 30 out of 100 will have a permanent loss of some function, and about 30 out of 100
will need long-term care within 6 months of the stroke.1
Your ability to care for a loved one at home
will depend on his or her level of disability, your health, and the amount of
support that you have from family members or outside help.
stroke, your loved one may have trouble with:
- Movement. Your loved
one may not be able to walk or to use his or her arms. This is usually because
of weakness or paralysis on one side of the body.
- Speech and language. Your loved one may not be able to speak,
read, or write. Also, he or she may not be able to understand what someone else
- Thinking and reasoning. He or she
may not be able to think clearly. The stroke may cause changes in
- Senses. Your loved one may not be
able to feel when something or someone touches parts of his or her body, such
as the arms or legs.
It could take a long time for your loved one to regain
speech and other skills. And some skills may not come back completely.
Many people who have a stroke will have some long-term problems with
talking, understanding, and decision-making. They also may have behavior
problems that affect their relationships with family and friends. They may need
help learning how to act in social situations.
Your loved one
could have other problems that happen right away or within months to years
after a stroke. They include:
- Weight loss, if the
person has trouble swallowing and does not eat well.
- Skin sores (pressure sores) or blood clots within deep veins if the person sits or lies in one position for a
- Shoulder pain.
- A stiff joint that cannot be straightened if the person holds
the affected arm or leg in the same position for a long time.
- Infection, especially
pneumonia or a
urinary tract infection.
- Tight muscles and muscle spasms in the affected arm or
People who have had a stroke may act differently than
they did before. They may be slow, cautious, and disorganized when they do
unfamiliar activities. They may seem anxious.
The level of care
and help your loved one needs may increase if his or her condition gets worse.
Basic activities like eating, dressing, bathing, using the bathroom, and simply
moving around may be harder or impossible for the person to do alone.
Taking care of your loved one at home may get too hard for you, both
physically and emotionally.