Looking after yourself overview
Looking after yourself after a stroke can be quite challenging for a number of reasons. But doing so is very important to stroke survivors, both physically and emotionally.
Rita: I couldn't shower myself. And if I wanted a shower, my husband would have to get in first, then guide me in and sit me down on the shower stool and wash my hair and wash me. And then get me out again and out of the shower and dry me all over. And then he'd have to help you dress as well because I couldn't get dressed either.
Steve: After my stroke washing was undoubtedly the hardest thing because my right arm didn't move at all. It was absolutely paralysed and frozen, so just used to hang down. So I um being in hospital. I didn't ever shower every day. So washing under my armpits was very difficult. This one was all right. But this one, because I couldn't get my arm there. And even if I could, I couldn't hold the soap. And if I got managed to get soap under my arm, I couldn't get it washed off, and I couldn't couldn't dry myself. So washing was undoubtedly harder than dressing after my stroke.
Julie: Following my stroke, I found it very difficult to bathe, wash, and dress myself because I'm right handed and I can obviously wash the left side of my body but because of the weakness on the left side. I can't do the right side.
Michelle: Looking after yourself following a stroke can be quite challenging for people. There are a number of different reasons for this. It could be that your stroke has affected you physically, so maybe one side of your body doesn't work as well as it used to. For some people, their memory, their thinking, their understanding has been affected, which means that they might have problems working out how to dress themselves or to maintain their personal needs.
Steve: It was very important to keep my my standards up, if you like. my personal hygiene, because if you make the effort to clean yourself, have a shave and dress yourself, it makes you feel, well it made me feel better. It was important for me to have a wash, shave and get dressed every day in the hospital and I did every single day.
Rita: It was very important to me to keep myself clean and presentable, because if you're clean and presentable, you feel better. You have more confidence in yourself. It mattered straightaway to me to look after myself after the stroke, when I was in hospital before visitors came. I used to put on my makeup on make sure I looked presentable because that's the way they knew me. That's the way they I knew what I was like. And if I if I'd let myself go and didn't bother with what I looked like, they would think there was something else wrong with me, which there wasn't.
Michelle: Keeping yourself clean following a stroke is really important. Firstly, it's going to make yourself feel better. It's going to improve your quality of life and that hopefully will impact on your recovery. The second reason for keeping yourself clean is about preventing infection, and it's really good for your health and your wellbeing.
Rita: I had occupational therapy in the hospital every morning and they showed me the best ways of washing myself and dressing myself. And then when I came out of hospital, I had what they called an intermediate team, which they came every morning and carried on from where the OTs did in hospital. And that was a great help, a great help it was. Everything used to take three or four times as long to have a shower and dress myself even though with my husband's help used to take me about an hour and I was absolutely exhausted after.
Steve: So it was difficult at first after the stroke. But once I thought about it and thought of a way of doing it and then make sure I could do it, then I was fine.
Michelle: There are lots of people involved in helping you to get a new routine following stroke. The person at the heart of that needs to be you and your family and your friends. The professionals involved in your care, So your physiotherapist, your occupational therapist, social workers involved in care can put together a package to help you manage your needs. You might have to get in carers to support you with your day to day needs as well.
Rita: I think it's vital that you do what you did before the stroke. If you put your makeup on every day before the stroke, put your makeup on every day when you've, after you've had the stroke. It's getting back to normality, and I think your carers should encourage you to do that as well, because that's what you need is encouragement. But you know you might think you haven't got any motivation to do it, but when somebody said to you, you're looking well, but if you have not done anything with yourself, they'll come in and say, Oh, you're not looking so well today that makes you feel really upset and down. So you've got to do things to boost your own confidence.
Steve: You have to force yourself to do it because you will feel better. Having a wash a shave, cleaning your teeth, putting clean clothes on, makes you feel so much better and you have a sense of achievement. It's alright, asking other people to do things for you. You've got to make the effort to make yourself feel better. And once you start doing this, you want to carry on.
Michelle: It's really understandable why someone following stroke might be lacking in motivation. There are different reasons for this. It could be part of your stroke because sometimes where the stroke is affecting the brain, this can affect your motivation. For other people, it could be a result of how they're feeling or their mood following stroke. If you are lacking in motivation, I would recommend that you take to try and take on a few small tasks as this can help you to try and do more in the long run. So, for example, brushing your own teeth might then spur you on to do something else. What I would say, though, is there is nothing wrong with asking for help. Lots of stroke survivors have told us that because of the difficulties that they're having with their mobility, they need assistance from other people to do tasks like washing their hair or looking after their own personal care. This might be embarrassing for you initially, but over time this can become easier. There is nothing embarrassing in asking for help. If you do need help and support, you might need a package of care. And this is something that the professionals working with you might be able to arrange.