Stroke support: How to find help and support after having a stroke

A stroke occurs when there is a sudden loss of blood supply to the brain. It can be frightening and leave you feeling confused and anxious about what the future might bring. Despite being common, most people are unaware of the support available to those who have had a stroke.

Every year, thousands of people in the UK have a stroke

Recovery is different for each person, but with help and support from friends and family as well as specialist services, it’s possible to manage after having a stroke. There are many social activities that can help you get back into your usual routine and meet new people while also providing opportunities to meet people who understand what you are going through. Here is some advice on where to find help and support after having a stroke.

What to expect after having a stroke

A stroke can affect different parts of the brain and can have a wide range of effects. Depending on which part of the brain is affected, you may experience a variety of long-term challenges, including difficulties with mobility, self-care, communication, vision and hearing, as well as changes in cognitive function (such as thinking, planning and organization). For example, you may have difficulty finding the right words to express yourself. It’s common to experience some challenges in everyday activities like dressing, bathing, cooking and driving. Some people also experience emotional difficulties, such as anxiety, depression or a change in personality. Having a stroke may also make you more susceptible to infections. Your symptoms will likely improve over time as your brain heals, but it’s important to be patient with the process. There is no set timeline for recovery.

Find a rehabilitation program that works for you

Stroke rehabilitation centres are in-patient or out-patient programs that offer a wide range of services and social activities for people recovering from a stroke. If you are admitted to a stroke rehabilitation program, you will likely be treated as an in-patient. You will have a specialized team that works with you to manage your treatment, while also providing you with support and encouragement. You may be treated as an outpatient if you are able to live at home with some additional assistance. Outpatient services are not always listed as formal rehabilitation programs, but they may also be helpful in assisting you to regain your mobility, self-care and cognitive skills. If you are not sure where to start, you can ask your doctor or your social worker for suggestions. They can help you find a program that meets your specific needs.

Join a support group for stroke survivors

Support groups are a great way to connect with people who have had similar experiences and can help you manage your emotions and give you a chance to talk about what you are experiencing. A stroke support group can be a valuable resource for people who have had a stroke as well as for their caretakers. A support group may meet face-to-face or online and can be helpful for both people who are newly recovering as well as those who have had a stroke for many years. One advantage of an online support group is that you can participate at the times you are most comfortable. If you are interested in joining a support group, you can search online for groups in your area or look for groups focused on stroke recovery. Many support groups are also listed on websites for organizations that provide stroke care and services.

Consider occupational therapy

One of the first services offered to people who have had a stroke is occupational therapy. Occupational therapists can provide advice on how to manage at home, assist with equipment and help you find ways to be more independent. You may be referred to an occupational therapist as part of your initial treatment plan or after you have been discharged from the hospital. Depending on the type of stroke you have, you may have specific challenges that can be addressed through occupational therapy. For example, if you have had a stroke that affects your ability to use one arm, occupational therapy may provide you with strategies for doing things with one hand, such as cooking, dressing or using your computer.

Support for carers of people who have had a stroke

Being the primary caregiver for a loved one who has had a stroke can be challenging. You may feel overwhelmed and may not know where to start. You may be worried that the person you are caring for may not receive all the help they need, or you may be concerned about your health and well-being. It’s important to get support so that you can continue to provide care for your loved one while maintaining your own health. Many organizations offer support groups for caregivers, including family members, friends and healthcare professionals. You can also find resources online, such as websites with tips for caregivers. If you would like more support, ask your doctor or social worker if they know of any programs in your area.

Support for those who are physically disabled by a stroke

If you are temporarily or permanently disabled following a stroke, you may be eligible for financial assistance. You can apply for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) if you have a long-lasting physical disability or a health condition that affects you throughout your life. If you qualify for DLA, you can receive financial assistance to help cover the costs of assisted living or home modifications. You can also qualify for other government benefits, such as transport assistance and special rates for utilities. If you are eligible for DLA, you will also be able to receive help from a social worker who can connect you to additional resources and assistance. You can also reach out to organizations that support people with disabilities and provide information and resources specific to people with disabilities.

Help for mental wellbeing for those who have had a stroke

Many people who have had a stroke experience some level of anxiety or depression. If you are feeling overwhelmed or having difficulty managing your emotions, it is important to get support as soon as possible. It can be helpful to reach out to other people who have had similar experiences. One way to do this is to join a support group or connect with other people who have had a stroke online. You can also reach out to your doctor or mental health care professional for help. Your doctor or social worker can connect you to community support services and government resources that can help you manage your mental health. This may include counselling, medication and other resources that can help you be more comfortable and get back to normal activities.

Join a fitness class to regain strength and fitness

Exercises, such as strength training and aerobic exercise, can help you regain your strength and mobility after a stroke. These types of exercises can also be helpful for managing your blood pressure and blood sugar levels, which are common problems among people who have had a stroke. If you are interested in joining a fitness class, contact your local community centre or recreation centre to find out what is available in your area. You can also use websites, such as Classpass, that list fitness classes offered in your area.

Take care of your physical health

Physical health, mental health and social support are all important factors for managing the effects of having a stroke. Take care of your health by following a balanced diet, exercising and getting enough sleep. If you have any ongoing health concerns, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, take care to monitor and manage these conditions. If you need help managing your medications, you can ask your doctor or social worker for advice. It is also important to make sure that you receive all the services you are entitled to. You can do this by asking questions and communicating clearly with your healthcare workers.

Don’t be afraid to ask for more help

Stroke can be a challenging experience, both physically and emotionally. There may be times when you need more support than what is available to you. It’s important to take care of yourself, so don’t be afraid to ask for more help if you need it. If your needs change as time goes on, let your doctor or social worker know. This can help them to provide you with the care and services that you need.

We are here to help, so you have somewhere to turn if you need help in any situation

The Disability Resource Centre is a charity that is working with local communities to support anyone with a disability or health condition in Milton Keynes, Luton, Bedford and across Bedfordshire.

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Our team can help you find local support for people with heart and cardiovascular conditions. Please contact us to discuss how we can help you, which may include arranging a free appointment with our Benefits Advisor. They are an expert in helping people with claiming benefits for disabled people and people with long term health conditions. 

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