Can stroke patients shower daily

Psychiatry, Psychosomatics & Psychotherapy

Information for relatives of stroke patients

Relatives are usually the most important caregivers for patients. Their behavior can therefore help stabilize the patient's psychological state shortly after a stroke. You should exude calm from the very first visit to the hospital. Through touch, they can show the patient their love, compassion, understanding, and care. In the event of a language disorder, simple signs can be used to facilitate communication. Questions to which the patient can nod or shake their heads also facilitate communication.

Rehabilitation time

During the rehabilitation, relatives can and should actively support the therapeutic measures. This is a crucial point in making progress with the patient and also boosts his or her self-esteem. In a conversation with the therapist, relatives learn what they should pay attention to when dealing with the stroke victim and which exercises are useful to promote the rehabilitation process. In addition, relatives should prepare for the time after rehabilitation. This includes the timely application and procurement of aids as well as preparations at home for the new situation. Information, advice and useful tips are provided by the treating doctor, therapist and self-help groups.

Homecoming

When the patient is back home, the apartment should be designed in such a way that he can move and act as independently as possible. Of course, this also depends on the degree of his disability. High door thresholds are one of the greatest sources of danger. Ramps with non-slip flooring should be laid over them. In the bathroom, grab bars on the washbasin, in the shower and on the toilet are important. The toilet paper must be accessible with a healthy hand and non-slip mats should be placed on the floor. If the patient suffers from severe cerebral disorders as a result of the stroke, as many items of furniture as possible should be in their old place. They provide orientation and make it easier for the patient to find their way around the apartment.

Patients in need of care should have everything they need close at hand. There must be enough space around the bed to lift him into the wheelchair. If you have hemiplegia, it is important to stimulate the affected side. The dessert and television should therefore preferably be on the paralyzed side of the patient. He is thereby automatically encouraged to become active with the weakened side. This side should also be preferred when talking to him.

Regular medication intake

An important task of the relatives is to ensure that the medication prescribed by the doctor is taken regularly. It is helpful to put the medication you need during the day in small bowls to take in the morning, at noon and in the evening. Blood pressure, pulse and blood sugar should also be checked regularly. The diet should be low in fat and the fluid intake should be sufficient. We recommend at least 2 liters a day. Cigarettes are taboo for patients. A stroke leads to psychological instability in many of those affected. Therefore, relatives should watch out for possible signs of depression in the patient and inform the treating doctor immediately if they occur.

Aids

For patients with restricted mobility, there are a variety of aids, such as wheelchairs, walking aids, stair lifts, etc. that make life easier. However, they should not be used longer than absolutely necessary, so that the patients regain their independence as quickly as possible. A straight sitting posture is important when eating. A pillow or blanket in the back can support and stabilize the correct sitting position. The patient should only be fed when it is absolutely necessary. However, make sure he is getting enough food and fluids, as dehydration increases the risk of recurrence. Here, too, the focus is on challenging the patient and thus promoting his or her independence.

Live actively

If the patient's physical condition allows, relatives should motivate them to exercise. Sport leads to an improvement in the overall condition of the patient by stimulating, building self-confidence and increasing the joy of life. In addition, physical activity helps to strengthen the muscles and improve movement sequences. Exercising regularly reduces the risk of further strokes. Because movement is impaired in many cases, water aerobics, swimming and gymnastic exercises are particularly suitable for stroke patients.

Stroke patients can also travel. However, they should not be exposed to extreme situations. Countries with very high or low temperatures should be avoided. Before every trip you should make sure that there is good medical care available at the holiday destination. Foreign travel and repatriation insurance are required.

It is important for the life partner to know that a stroke does not affect the patient's sexual needs or performance. However, special drugs can reduce potency. If the patient's blood pressure is well controlled, there is no risk of having a stroke from sexual activity. Both partners should address any problems and difficulties openly.

A stroke comes out of the blue for most and changes a lot. This difficult situation must not be suppressed, neither by the patient nor by the relatives. The disease and its consequences must be accepted and everyone involved must deal with it. If the patient becomes in need of care or if their daily life is impaired by a permanent disability, the relatives must also get used to a new life under changed conditions. In order to cope with this new, difficult situation, patients and relatives should not be afraid to seek the help and support of others. In addition to the attending physician and the therapists involved in the rehabilitation, these are in particular the self-help groups. In addition to groups in which stroke victims and relatives meet separately, there are also groups in which relatives and patients go together. There are more than 350 self-help groups in Germany. They serve the exchange of experiences, enable mutual support in case of problems and often offer offers for common leisure activities. A list of self-help groups can be obtained from the German Stroke Foundation.

Technical support: Prof. Dr. med. Christian Gerloff, Hamburg (DGN)