Information for family and friends

On this page, you can find answers to some of the most common questions you are likely to have about caring for someone who has had a stroke and how My Stroke Guide can help.

When stroke happens

Stroke is unlike most other health conditions because it changes lives in an instant. It usually happens without any warning, and often comes as a huge shock. And the impact of a stroke doesn’t stop with one person. It can also reach out to family and friends.

What is the impact of stroke?

If you are a family member or friend of someone who’s had a stroke, you might be wondering what the future holds. Some people make a full recovery and go back to their usual activities within a short time. But many others will live with the effects of a stroke for many months or years, and some effects last a lifetime.

Recovery from stroke

People can and do make good recoveries from even very serious strokes, but many people are left with a disability. Not everyone can go back to how they were before a stroke, but with the right support and treatment, many people can rebuild their lives.

How can I support someone after a stroke?

Be there for them

You don’t have to be living with someone to give help and support. You don’t have to be there in person either: just showing someone you are thinking of them can help them feel that they haven’t been forgotten. You could send a regular message, or make a phone call to share your news and ask how they are.

Remember that rehabilitation and recovery can be incredibly difficult and hard work. They may be attempting to relearn some fundamental skills such as walking or talking, and this is a big challenge. You can help by giving encouragement and taking an interest.

Offer practical support and time

It’s not always obvious when someone needs support, or what kind of help they need. Their needs may change over time, and some people are reluctant to ask for help. They might also prefer to try to do certain things on their own, even if it’s difficult for them. Practising tasks can be helpful for recovery in the long term.

Informal caregiving

Many people might not think of themselves as carers, but simply as family members or friends helping out. You don’t have to live with someone to be their carer, and it’s sometimes called being an informal caregiver. You might look after them in different ways. Informal care can mean helping with cleaning or dressing, but it could also mean a daily phone call, delivering shopping or emotional support.

The emotional impact of a stroke on family and friends

People can react in very different ways when a loved one has a stroke. You might feel grief, worry, guilt or anger, as well as shock. There can be a sense of loss at the changes in the person and your relationship with them. Although they are still the same person, they might have changed in some ways such as being more emotional or seeming less motivated to do things.

Looking after yourself

If you spend a lot of time on caring responsibilities, it’s important to look after yourself too. It can sometimes be difficult to do things like eating regular meals or getting a good night’s sleep. But remember that your wellbeing matters.

If you're the main carer

If you’re responsible for managing someone’s support and care, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed by all the information there is to take in. Help is available, such as advice on funding, and practical help with applying for benefits. Try to get professional advice for yourself and the person you’re supporting.

  • You can get advice and practical support from specialist organisations including Citizen’s Advice, Independent Age and Age UK. See the end of this guide for contact details, or search online.

  • You’re not alone, and our Stroke Helpline is here if you have any questions or need someone to talk to

Getting help with caring

1. You can register as a carer with your GP, which will give you access to some help with your health and wellbeing, and referrals to local support.

2. Request a carer’s assessment by contacting your local council adult social services department. They can also assess the needs of the person who’s had a stroke.

Questions to ask when leaving the hospital

If you have any concerns when your family member or friend is discharged from the hospital, be sure to make your concerns known.

Some questions you might want to ask include:

  • What was the cause of the stroke?

  • Will there be a post-stroke review and when will this take place?

  • What is the discharge process in this unit?

  • How will you decide if my loved one is ready to go home?

  • Who is responsible for my loved one being discharged from the hospital? Can I attend this meeting?

  • If I am concerned once they’re home, who do I contact?

  • How can I support my loved ones to continue with their exercises when they're at home?

  • What practical things can my loved one do to prevent another stroke?

Support for health and wellbeing

The chance of having a second stroke can be a big worry for stroke survivor and their family and friends. After a stroke, the risk of another stroke is much higher.

The risk goes down over time, but someone who’s had a stroke can keep their risk as low as possible by following any treatment they are given. They might also need to make some lifestyle changes.

Information

Other resources

Stroke Association
Helpline: 0303 3033 100
Email: helpline@stroke.org.uk
Contact us for information about stroke, emotional support and details of local services and support groups.

Help for carers

Carers UK
Adviceline: 0808 808 7777

Cruse Bereavement Care
Phone: 0808 808 1677

Help with benefits and funding

Citizens Advice
England: 0800 144 8848
Wales: 0800 702 2020
Scotland: 0800 028 1456
RelayUK: 18001 0800 144 8884

Gov.uk/browse/benefits

Independent Age
Helpline: 0800 319 6789

Turn2Us
Helpline: 0808 802 2000

Disclaimer: The Stroke Association provides the details of other organisations for information only. Inclusion on My Stroke Guide does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement.