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Stroke Smart Magazine

May/June 2008
Q & A

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Self-Advocacy: Your Best Recovery Starts with You

with Colette LaFosse

What is Self-Advocacy?
To be a self-advocate is to be a supporter, believer and activist of and for yourself. It is standing up for your wants and needs in a clear, specific and firm way.

Why is Self-Advocacy Important?
A stroke can take away your sense of control. Self-advocacy means that you take personal responsibility for your stroke recovery. You have a say in what you want and need. You are empowered to directly impact your ownquality of life.

How Do I get Started?
Before you can take control of anything, you need to take care of yourself. As a stroke  survivor, you are at risk for another stroke. You can’t change that. But you can take steps to prevent another stroke: monitor your blood pressure and your cholesterol level, take  medicines as prescribed, eat healthy foods, exercise and quit smoking.

How Do I Know What I Want and Need?
Educate yourself and evaluate your situation. Learn about stroke, your disabilities and treatment options. Ask questions. Read or browse the Web. Talk to a social worker, case manager or community resource specialist. Think about what you need to meet both your physical and emotional needs. Can you move independently or do you require help from another person? Do you feel depressed? Be honest with yourself. Understanding your
needs in these areas can help you identify what care, if any, is needed and how to get it. Then look at your financial resources and possible solutions.

What Next?
You may find that physical and emotional changes require you to develop new interests,  strengths and abilities. To help you make progress, be sure to set short- and long-term goals. Don’t forget to consider your current abilities and disabilities. Also make sure your goals are realistic and flexible. Breaking each goal into smaller accomplishments can help you and your family track your progress.

Any Last Thoughts?
It is impossible to anticipate all problems. Keep in mind they can be solved one at a time. Try the following techniques:

  • Acknowledge the problem.
  • Identify the problem/make the problem clear.
  • Observe yourself carefully and write down how you behaved, reacted, responded or thought when confronted with the problem.
  • Identify possible causes.
  • Decide what you want to accomplish.
  • Brainstorm solutions.
  • Review your solutions and choose the best options for you.
  • List specific things that you will do to help carry out your solutions.

My Turn
Use National Stroke Association’s discussion guide to determine what you can do to take charge of your stroke recovery. The guide includes a list of questions to discuss at your next stroke support group meeting, with your family, or independently. Go to www.stroke.org/myturn to download this or other guides.

Colette Lafosse is the Director of Rehabilitation and Recovery Programs, National Stroke Association.



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National Stroke Association’s mission is to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke by developing compelling education and programs focused on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and support for all impacted by stroke.

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