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Positive Coping with Life after a Stroke

Positive Coping

Surround yourself with positive influences and focus your thinking toward positive things.

After a stroke you have to cope with many changes in the way you live your daily life. You may have changes such as uncoordinated movements of an arm and/or leg, difficulty getting dressed, and completing personal care activities. In addition, there may be a new dependence on a family member or other caregiver to assist you with daily activities like bathing, grooming, or toileting, etc.

Elderly Man SmilingAccepting certain losses and grieving are normal responses to your new way of being. Feelings of depression may be common shortly after a stroke.

Depression is a common mental disorder that has symptoms of sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, low energy, and poor concentration. In an older adult, signs of major depression may be seen by some of the following symptoms: unexplained or aggravated aches and pains, hopelessness, helplessness, anxiety and worries, or memory problems. Some more clues about depression in an elderly adult to note are loss of feeling of pleasure, slowed movement, irritability, lack of interest in personal care (for example, skipping meals, forgetting medications, neglecting personal hygiene). If you have new or worsening symptoms such as overwhelming sadness, thoughts of suicide, worsening anxiety or increased trouble sleeping, it is time to get help by telling your health care provider or caregiver.

What can you do?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I get frustrated with my daily life because I need help doing things?
  • Do I think that I have lost control of my life, because I have to follow directions from those who care for me?
  • Am I depressed or do I feel sad from the effects of my stroke?

Here are ways to surround yourself with positive influences to help you cope when you feel down:

  • Get out of the house (go to church, go shopping, join a small group, or visit neighbors).
  • Get outside daily and enjoy nature, if possible.
  • Accept encouragement and praise from your family and health care providers (occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy).
  • Try hard at therapy sessions.
  • If you have a spiritual nature, pray for inner peace and joy in your heart.
  • If you can not get out, try computer activities, have family members get you books on tape, start a jigsaw puzzle or do crossword puzzles and word search puzzles.
  • Study scripture and read daily devotional books.
  • Try meditation. Visit http://www.learningmeditation.com/ and link to topics that interest you so you can learn how to relax and seek calm in your life through meditation.
  • Accept your altered body and think of new ways to enjoy yourself each day by getting dressed and making good grooming a priority.
  • Make positive statements about yourself and those who help you.
  • A simple thank you or word of appreciation is a positive way to interact with your family or caregiver.
  • Try something new or become involved in an old hobby or interest by joining a book club or small group at church, organize and add to an existing collection.
  • Remain hopeful about your future and celebrate accomplishments.

Additional Resources:

For more information about depression click on the following website by the National Institute of Mental Health: 
http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/complete-index.shtml

For a positive coping website click on: 
http://www.informedhealthonline.org/fact-sheet-coping-psychologically-after-a-stroke.31.393.en.print


References:

Ch'ng, A.M., French, D., & McLean, N. (2008). Coping with the challenges of recovery from stroke, long-term perspectives of stroke support group members. Journal of Health Psychology, 13(8), 1136-1146.

Popovich, J.M., Fox, P.G. & Bandagi, R. (2007). Coping with stroke: Psychological and social dimensions in U.S. patients. The International Journal of Psychiatric Nursing Research, 12(3) 1474-1487.

Jacelon, C. (2011). The specialty practice of rehabilitation nursing. Glenview, IL: Association of Rehabilitation Nurses.

Western, H. (2007). Altered living: Coping, hope, and quality of life after stroke. British Journal of Nursing, 16(20) 1266-1270.

World Health Organization (2009). Mental health.

Written in 2009 by Julie Jessop, MSN, RN at the University of Toledo for the Caring~Web©.
Revised 2012.

Last Updated: 5/26/16