Henry’s mother suffered a stroke in 1987 and lived with the results for more than 10 years. Her challenges after her stroke included walking, upper limb spasticity and limited use of her left side. Even though she received extensive therapy, her recovery was minimal and very difficult. Henry watched as she struggled and lost her joy. To date, he feels his most challenging role was being a caregiver to his mother after her stroke. Henry has joined National Stroke Association’s Faces of Stroke campaign to remind other caregivers about the importance of their role on the healthcare team.
There are more than 65 million family caregivers in the U.S., each with a unique story. Caregivers and family members play a vital role in a stroke survivor’s recovery. They’re the ones who look after a stroke survivor’s needs, which may be emotional, financial, physical, social or practical. Caregivers must strike a balance between taking care of both their loved ones and themselves. They must put their own needs first and protect their own health in order to provide their loved ones with the best care possible. Caregivers can find coping strategies through National Stroke Association’s iHOPE: When Caregiving Is Stressful webinar or by connecting with more than 1,700 other caregivers at Careliving(SM) Community, an online community that provides a place for discussion, connection and support.
National Stroke Association launched the Faces of Stroke campaign in 2011, and has supplemented it with new mini-campaigns that delve into specific stroke topics, such as caregiving. Caregivers are—hands down—a vital piece of stroke recovery, which can last a lifetime. But their own health is often overlooked. “National Stroke Association wants to recognize and honor caregivers this month,” said Jim Baranski, the organization’s chief executive officer. “We hope to hear many more stories about how people of all ages and backgrounds take on this role, voluntarily and involuntarily.”
“We believe that stroke survivors and those who play key roles in their lives have the power to influence healthy behaviors through storytelling,” said Mr Baranski. “You just have to give them the opportunity. Anyone affected by stroke—no matter the connection—can have a role in raising awareness by telling their stories and sharing them with people they care about.”
National Stroke Association’s Faces of Stroke public awareness campaign aims to change the public perceptions of stroke through sharing personal stories. The Faces of Stroke campaign features an online gallery of hundreds of stroke champions’ stories and photos, an easy-to-use online story submission tool, educational information about stroke and opportunities to share stories socially through Facebook, Twitter and email. Learn more about the campaign at www.stroke.org/faces.