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Elderly Stroke Recovery and Rehabilitation

Steps to Take After a Stroke

Stroke recovery 

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Around three-quarters of all strokes happen to people who are older than 65, and the risk of stroke increases by more than double for every decade from age 55 to 85. Following these serious incidents is a recovery process that, for some, can begin as early as two days after a stroke.

Assisting a loved one in recovering from a stroke may require making several decisions about rehabilitation locations and programs, and medication.

Steps to Take After a Stroke

By learning available options and approaching these choices with patience and courage, you can help ease the recovery process and provide guidance and support.

Choosing a Facility

The severity of stroke will be a determining factor in finding the proper facility to attend a rehabilitation program. Available rehabilitation facilities include:

  • A rehabilitation unit within a hospital
  • A rehabilitation hospital
  • A subacute care unit
  • Home therapy with or without outpatient care
  • A long-term facility with therapy and nursing care

Choosing a Program

Rehabilitation facilities offer programs that allow stroke survivors to re-learn everyday skills that are lost when part of the brain is damaged. The goal of these programs is for individuals to become as independent as possible. This goal is achieved by practicing different activities to increase strength, flexibility and endurance.

Doctors will examine important factors such as a patient's age, overall health and degree of abilities to decide on the best program. For some patients, this means choosing programs that address higher-level medical needs and provide regular treatment as well.

Each program comes with patient care provided by a specialized team made up of the following professionals: Physical, Recreational and Occupational Therapists; Social Workers and Case Managers; Neurologists and Neuropsychologists; Nurses and Dieticians; and Speech Pathologists.

Choosing Medication

Part of stroke recovery may require taking medications to prevent another stroke. A second stroke is likely to cause a greater degree of disability can be fatal.

Three primary categories of medication have proven to be most beneficial for patients recovering from strokes:

  • Antiplatelets such as Aspirin, Dipyridamole and Plavix keep platelets (blood cells) from sticking together and forming abnormal clots.
  • Antihypertensives such as Hyzaard, Cozaar and Micardis lower blood pressure to reduce the risk of stroke.
  • Anticoagulants such as Warfarin, Xarelto and Pradaxa interfere with certain blood components to prevention the formation of clots.

Choosing an Anticoagulant

All anticoagulants should be taken with care, as they increase the risk of uncontrollable bleeding events. Bleeding antidotes are available for some anticoagulants. For example, vitamin K can be administered if patients taking Warfarin experience bleeding. However, there are no antidotes for Xarelto or Pradaxa.

Pradaxa poses bleeding risks and has also been associated with increased cardiac risks. In 2011, 542 deaths were linked to Pradaxa use. Thus far, over 200 claims have been reported across the U.S., and have been consolidated into a multidistrict litigation (MDL) being held in the Southern District of Illinois.

Evaluating facilities, programs and medications can empower caretakers to make the best choices for those who have experienced strokes.

SOURCE: Alanna Ritchie is a content writer for Drugwatch.com, specializing in news about prescription drugs, medical devices and consumer safety.

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