Stroke Smart Magazine
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Groups Empower Those Affected by Stroke
By Gabriela Paredes
Feeling alone after stroke can be a road block on the path
to recovery, but with the help of a support group, survivors can gain a sense
of unity and emotional strength. The challenges posed by stroke can be the most
difficult to deal with because the loss of ability has a big impact on
self-esteem. That is why it is vital to have an outlet, a forum or simply
people to talk to that share similar experiences.
Having to rely on others for help can compel stroke
survivors to rethink how they feel about themselves. Being unable to complete
daily tasks without aid from others can be frustrating and isolating,
especially when the simplest everyday events such as getting out of bed, using
the bathroom or getting dressed can be challenging. This loss of ability could
mean a loss of independence; a life with limited sense of purpose or enjoyment.
Entering a rehabilitation facility following stroke gives
patients and their caregivers the chance to ease into rebuilding their life and
their relationships, but it cannot fully prepare them for what lies ahead when
they return home. Often, the reality sets in when the daily support of the
medical team is gone and survivors and caregivers must navigate a new life
together that can be overwhelming. Without support, the stroke survivor can
have feelings of depression, isolation and low self-esteem and for the
caregiver, anxiety and frustration.
Support groups have existed for many years and research has
proved their value in strengthening a person’s resolve, giving them purpose and
– in the case of stroke – helping survivors regain their sense of self. These
resources offer more than support; they can help people problem solve, learn
about stroke and recovery issues and help survivors and their caregivers find
Taking part in a support group helps survivors feel valued
and to regain a sense of community by helping them to work toward setting
goals, learn about new ways to cope and to talk with others who share like
experiences. This fuels self-discovery and a new outlook on life. For
caregivers, these groups offer a forum to gain insight and a channel for
sharing both the challenges and triumphs with those who share similar issues.
Benefits of Support Groups
- Gain a sense of community
- Validation that what you are
experiencing is not “in your head”
- Affirmation that what you
are feeling is real
- Forum to express yourself;
- hear from like-minded
- Strengthen your resolve
- Build new friendships
The Right Kind of Support
- There are many ways to get
involved with a support group:
- Contact a local hospital
to find group meetings.
- Contact National Stroke
- 1-800-STROKES to find
local groups or for resources and guides starting a group.
- Some employers offer these
support services as part of an Employee Assistance Program.
- Check out online groups
such as strokenetwork.org and dailystrength.org that offer opportunities
to get involved without leaving the house.
Gabriela Paredes is
the oldest of three daughters of a stroke survivor. Her mother lives in
California and she lives Cape Cod in Maryland. Her background is marketing and
she is currently working on freelance projects.
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