Mercy Health Neuroscience Institute
Living with Stroke
It can feel like a long road back to recovery following a stroke – but it’s not a road you’re walking alone. Your Mercy Stroke Center, Acute Rehabilitation Center, and Mercy Homecare team is here to help. As you continue with your stroke rehabilitation work there are steps you can take – with the help of your doctors, family, and loved ones – to increase your chances for an optimal recovery and reduce the likelihood of suffering another stroke. Following are a few tips:
Physical activity produces a host of benefits –
it can improve your heart function, lower your blood
pressure, reduce the risk of diabetes, improve strength and endurance, and lessen the risk of depression. If you have suffered a stroke it is important to be physically active under your doctor’s supervision to gain as much physical independence as possible. Talk with your doctor or rehabilitation nurse about creating a safe physical activity plan you can begin at home. Let your family members know you want to become more physically active and ask for their help by getting involved – going on walks with you, enrolling for a class at your local recreation center, etc.
Follow doctor’s orders.
Your doctor and clinical care team are carefully watching a host of factors when you come in for an appointment, including factors that may indicate you are at risk for having another stroke. If your doctor prescribes dietary change, an exercise regimen, medication or a surgical procedure it’s to ensure your best possible health. If you don’t understand your doctor’s orders ask him or her to repeat them, to write them down, or ask a nurse in the office for more information. If you need help following your doctor’s orders – for example if you can’t remember to take or refill your prescriptions – ask for help from a family member or loved one. Keep a notebook where you record questions, answers, times that you take medication, and test results such as blood sugar levels (for diabetes) or blood pressure.
Adopt a healthy diet.
Three strong risk factors for stroke are poor cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and excess weight. You can address all three by:
Find fellowship and support.
- eating a diet rich in whole grains, fruit and vegetables
- eating fish at least twice weekly
- lowering your intake of foods high in cholesterol, trans fat and saturated fat
- increasing your intake of lean meats and poultry
- limiting yourself to one alcoholic drink daily
- choosing skim or 1% fat dairy products
- cutting back or cutting out foods high in sugar with no nutritional value such as sodas and candy
- taking a standard daily multivitamin
It is important to tap into local support groups for encouragement during your recovery and life after stroke. Mercy works closely with the local Stroke and DaZy Aphasia support groups to bring individuals and families together to share needs and concerns. Support groups provide an opportunity for family members and stroke survivors to gain confidence and receive support as they go through the process of rehabilitation. The stroke nurses at the Mercy Stroke Center act as a liaison for patients, families, and local support groups.