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In every 100,000 Singaporeans, there are 155 cases of stroke and this number is expected to rise with our ageing population.
Improvements in healthcare over the years have lowered the mortality rate of stroke considerably, yet it remains as the 4th leading cause of death in Singapore.
If you have a loved one that just went through a stroke, read on to find out what you can do for his/her post-stroke care!
1. Stroke Rehabilitation
Stroke rehabilitation (rehab) may include speech, occupational, and physiotherapy.
The goal of stroke rehab is to help your loved one regain as much physical and cognitive function as possible.
Rehab helps stroke patients re-learn how to perform activities of daily living (ADLs), such as walking, using the bathroom, and other daily functions that allow people to live independently. Stroke rehab can be done inpatient and outpatient depending on the type and severity of the stroke.
Post-stroke physiotherapy will focus on regaining range of motions, physical strength, coordination, balance and movement abilities that were affected by the stroke. Besides physiotherapy, your loved one may need to relearn other skills and abilities, and that is where speech therapists and occupational therapists come into play.
Speech therapists will be able to assess your parent for swallowing disorders which is a common complication of stroke, and train him/her to cope and overcome language and speech difficulties.
On the other hand, occupational therapists can work with your loved one to master day-to-day tasks and re-integrate him/her back into the society. Occupational therapists can also advise you on home modifications, such as grab bars and wheelchair ramps, to cater to your parent’s new functional status.
2. Stroke Recurrence Prevention
Patients following a stroke face an increased risk of a second episode compared to the general population.
Therefore, stroke recurrence prevention is imperative in your parent’s post-stroke management.
Most strategies to prevent stroke recurrence revolve around lifestyle modifications because majority of the risk factors for stroke, which include hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity, can be reduced with changes in lifestyle.
Firstly, nutrition and diet are crucial part of taking care of your elderly parents.
Do incorporate more fruits, vegetables and whole grains in their diet and try your best to keep their diet low in salt and oil. Persuade them to eat a variety of foods from all food groups in moderation because having a balanced diet can lower the risk for hypertension, high cholesterol and obesity, which in turn lowers the risk of a recurrent stroke.
Other lifestyle modifications that can be made include tobacco cessation, decreased alcohol use, and increased physical activity. It is also important to limit stress for your loved one as unnecessary psychological pressure may increase risk of stroke.
Another strategy that may be worth considering is anti-thrombotic therapy. Anti-platelet agents are commonly used to reduce risk of a recurrent stroke.
However, it is important to speak with your parent’s treating doctor to see what would be ideal for your loved one!
At the end of the day, the best care for your parents comes from you.
Amidst our busy schedule, we should always remember to spend more time with our parents and give them all our love and support!
Lastly, remember this, the faster a stroke is treated, the less change of permanent damage.
If your parent exhibit any stroke symptoms, do not hesitate to go to the nearest A&E department immediately.