How to deal with a loved one that is a stroke victim?

Question by Cheryl J: How to deal with a loved one that is a stroke victim?
My father had his stroke about 7 years ago. Although his doctors say that there is potential for him to get better, he just doesn’t seem to have any motivation or determination. All he wants to do is sit in his room and watch tv all day everyday. He barely even talks. He lives in an assisted living facility and the staff tells me that he talks to them and answers questions when asked. When I try talking to him its almost like pulling teeth. I only get short one word answers, his favorite is “alright”. When I try asking open ended questions he just stares off into space not answering me at all.
Yesterday we sat in his room with no tv and I tried talking to him again only to find myself talking to myself. I sat there in complete silence just to see if he would say anything and not one word was uttered.
It is very heart breaking to watch him like this. Do any of you have any experience with a family member like this? Help please I want my daddy to talk to me.

Best answer:

Answer by mlgable
Sounds like he may have some depression. Talk to the assisted living nurse and see if this is a possiblity and have her get him an appointment with the docs to get all of this checked out.

What do you think? Answer below!

  1. Reply
    caretaker May 20, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    Be Patient
    it is harder for stroke vics to formulate sentances and or focus on things
    they forget a lot
    and are mad and scared about it all
    Read to him
    tell him some memories and or news from outside
    Most important let him know You love him and are there 4 him

  2. Reply
    oracle May 20, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    Storkes often damage areas of the brain responsible for understanding spoken languange and for forming language. Ask the staff to elaborate more on exactly how your dad relates to them…It may likely be with very short answers. He has what’s known as “expressive aphasia”.
    It may be very emotional for your dad when you’re around, and it’s just impossible for him to get these complex ideas out of his mouth.
    Talk to him slower, with shorter questions.
    Ask questions that can be responded to with brief answers.
    The majority of progress that stroke survivors make is early on in recovery, although we now know that they can continue to make gains even years later, but much smaller & slower gains.
    Is his memory/cognition impaired?
    Have you been around much?
    If he doesn’t recognize you, he might not be comfortable.
    If he does recognize you, he might actually be embarassed or ashamed of his language deficits.
    Go slow.

  3. Reply
    Some One Who Cares May 20, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    I wish you could get him out of there. I think that would give him a different perspective do you ever get to take him outside? Will he go with you out?

  4. Reply
    Stephanie F May 20, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    I work as an Occupational Therapist and have worked with many stroke victims. Each one is different. I agree with the answers above. I think it is fine to give the good memories of your past with him. Sometimes it is easier for people to talk to strangers than their own family as they feel like they are failures. Do you tell him how it hurts you when he doesn’t talk to you? Make sure he knows you love him no matter what and you know things are not the same. Is he physically able to get around and do things? It sounds like he is since he is in Assisted Living. Tell him how you honestly feel but don’t make it sound accusatory. Let him know you are genuinely concerned about him. What did he do before his stroke? Since it has been 7 years ago, it isn’t going to be easy for him to just jump into something after doing nothing for years. Maybe you can agree to get him to do something with you once a week, like go out to dinner. Many do get depressed. Do you have any other family members that share the same experience as you with him? Often stroke victims feel hopeless and helpless. They feel abandoned after they leave a hospital. They got used the the 24 hour care and when they go home, they don’t have that full attention they once had there. They may get angry easier. They may find it much harder to communicate and just shut down, especially with the ones they love.

    Here is a website that might help: I copied and pasted most of it, not all of it. You could sit down with the people of assistive living and your father at the same time and see if he will talk to both of you.
    For all of his advantages, there was a moment when actor Kirk Douglas was so despondent after suffering a stroke that he opened a drawer, grabbed the pistol he had used in the film Gunfight at the OK Corral, and put the gun in his mouth. But he accidentally knocked the barrel against his teeth. The pain made him laugh at himself long enough to reconsider pulling the trigger.

    In the years following his stroke in 1995, the macho film legend recovered his ability to speak, and went on to write a book about his experience to inspire other stroke victims during their recovery. But if severe depression could overtake Kirk Douglas, who had the best of everything — a parade of household help, the support of his family and thousands of adoring fans — think how emotionally devastating a stroke can be for the rest of us.

    As many as half of all people who suffer a stroke become clinically depressed. It’s certainly understandable that a person’s outlook would be directly connected to how much he or she has lost. After having a stroke, people can experience full or partial paralysis of the muscles in their faces or limbs. They can also lose the ability to speak, significantly jeopardizing their connection to the rest of the world.
    Although it’s understandable to feel overwhelming anguish, there are ways to recover from depression with the help of your friends, family, and support groups as well as professionial care.

    What causes depression in stroke survivors?

    Some scientists believe that the stroke-induced brain injury itself can cause it. “In most patients, they develop depression secondary to brain injury,” says Ezzeddine. “The hypothesis is that some of the brain circuits known to be involved in depression can be affected by stroke. If you had bouts of depression before the stroke, it’s more likely you’ll develop it after.”

    Besides psychological issues, it’s hardly surprising that the more disabling the stroke, the more likely it is that the survivor will experience depression. One study, in the journal Hospital Medicine, equated severe post-stroke disability with a two to three times greater risk for depression than the people who experienced little or no disability.
    What’s the treatment for post-stroke depression?

    The treatment can differ from the usual remedies because some medicines commonly used to treat depression are dangerous for stroke survivors. Tricyclic antidepressants, for example, can inhibit recovery in a stroke survivor, according to Ezzeddine. Other medications commonly taken by people who have had strokes — like beta blockers, a type of heart medication — can also deepen depression. But there are many other medication choices.

    In addition, seeking psychotherapy, setting goals for recovery, and getting involved in social activities can all help. Here are some other ways for stroke survivors to free themselves from depression:

    •Get involved in daily activities with friends or family. Many stroke survivors feel isolated and alone, even if they aren’t physically incapacitated from the stroke.
    •Find a support group with a trained facilitator. It could help provide emotional support as well as useful tips for managing your disabilities. Consult the National Stroke Association for groups near you.
    •The American Heart Association now recommends aerobic and strengthening exercise for stroke survivors. If you’re capable of exercising, ask your doctor for a referral to an exercise class. Many hospitals or senior centers offer exercise classes for stroke survivors.
    •Ask your doctor how to relieve any physical discomforts like pain, muscle spasms, and constipation that can all add to depression.
    •If you’re capable of volunteering, even if it’s just an hour or two a week, it will not only help others, but could also help you feel better about yourself.

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