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For Caregivers: Self-Care After Stroke

After a stroke, patients can regain a sense of power by helping to take care of themselves. Many can learn ways to manage a lack of bowel and bladder control. Using impaired arms and legs to bathe and dress helps patients regain muscle strength. In fact, daily use of affected hands and arms often helps bring back function.

Woman sitting on edge of hospital bed putting on shoe with long-handled grasper. Healthcare provider is sitting next to woman.
A long-handled grasper and Velcro shoe closures make dressing easier. An occupational therapist can help your loved one master the technique.

Bladder and Bowel Problems

A stroke may take away your loved one’s bladder and bowel control. The problem may seem worse if he or she can’t walk to the bathroom alone or ask for help. Nurses can help you and the patient find a way to manage the problem. They may suggest:

  • Taking the patient to the toilet at set times. You might try every 2 to 3 hours.

  • Providing a bedside commode for use at night.

  • Using absorbent briefs.

Bathing and Dressing

With the help of occupational therapists, patients learn new ways to bathe and dress. Your loved one may be taught to:

  • Test water temperature with a hand or foot that was not affected by the stroke.

  • Use grab bars, a shower seat, a hand-held shower, and a long-handled brush.

  • Dress while sitting, starting with the affected side or limb.

  • Wear shirts with snaps or Velcro closures. Use zippers with loops attached to them. Sweat pants or skirts with elastic waistbands may also be suggested.

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 5/15/2011
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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