According to the Stroke Center, 750,000 Americans will suffer from a stroke this year. Approximately seventy percent of individuals who suffer from a stroke will survive, but face a number of possible physical limitations. In fact, many stroke survivors find themselves in need of much rehabilitation and support to function in their daily lives.  Caregivers of stroke survivors also face insurmountable physical and emotional challenges as they assist their loved ones on the road to recovery.
If you are a caregiver for a loved one who has suffered a stroke you are not alone. Many families have stepped up to provide care and support for their loved ones following a stroke. One such family is Curt’s family. Curt, along with his mother, and aunt have formed an informal care team. The three of them plan to share the duties of supporting his grandmother who suffered from a stroke just a couple of months ago.  Curt said, “I am living at my grandmother’s house now, taking care of the dog and the house until she is well enough to come home.”
Once she returns home Curt will assume the role of full-time caregiver for his grandmother who is currently receiving rehabilitation at a local long-term care facility. Curt sought training at Caregiver Support Services  where he learned how to assist his grandmother with meals, transfers, communication, and self-care strategies as a caregiver in preparation for his grandmother’s return home.
Training has taught Curt the importance of being empowered to reach out for help rather than trying to go at it alone. As a result, Curt and his family created a detailed plan, which included Curt moving into his grandmother’s home where he will eventually provide daily support and care once his grandmother returns home, while his mother and aunt coordinate gaps in care and locate resources.  The team of three are clearly empowered to support one another when his grandmother returns home. 
Caregiver Wellness: U Model
Empowerment is a key component of the Caregiver Wellness: U  Model a conceptual model, that incorporates the movement toward social, psychological, physical, intellectual, spiritual, occupational, and financial wellness among caregivers, while also incorporating the empowerment and resilience necessary to take charge of one’s health on a holistic basis.
What does it mean to be empowered?
According to the Caregiver Wellness: U Model you are empowered when you fully engage in and execute healthy behaviors to improve your caregiving situation. In fact, once you are empowered you are better able to assist your loved one live life with greater fulfillment and you are more likely to take self-responsibility for your health and wellness.

Are you empowered?

Please take this opportunity to evaluate your level of empowerment. There are five statements; consider each statement openly and honestly. Assign two points (2) if you agree with the statement, one point (1) if you somewhat agree, and do not assign any points (0) if you do not agree with the statement.
When problems arise with my loved one I handle them well.
I feel that I do a good job caring for my loved one.
I am pleased with the decisions I make regarding the services my loved one needs.
When necessary, I take the initiative in looking for services for myself and my loved one.
I am able to apply what I learn to improve my personal care and the care of my loved one.

Evaluate your empowerment score
A score of 7 or higher may indicate that you are an empowered caregiver.
A score between 4 and 6 may indicate that you are somewhat empowered.
A score between 0 and 3 may indicate that you might want to reach out for help. 
Four Resources to Empower Caregivers
The following are four resources that you may find empowering as you care for your loved one or client who is a stroke survivor. 
Educate yourself about the condition of your loved one. Some caregivers report that they are not

being given enough information about their loved one or client’s condition in a manner that is easily understood. You may find the tips and tools on the  National Stroke Association’s website useful, if you are seeking to learn more about your loved one’s condition.

Download the very informative booklet Tips and Resources for Caregivers, published by the Department of Health and Human Services. The booklet highlights a variety of governmental programs and supports that may be accessed to aid in the care of your loved one.
Become a member of Caregiver Support Services’ Caregiver Wellness Support Center. The CSS Wellness and Support Center is ideal for family caregivers who are empowered to network with others and who would benefit from access to valuable resources. Membership is free!
Register for the August 24th webinar. To help caregivers and their loved ones Caregiver Support Services is offering a free webinar on August 24that 2 p.m. EST (1 p.m. CST, noon MST, and 11am PST) featuring Dr. McNealus, from Every Body Fitness. We will discuss the importance of encouraging those you care for to participate in an exercise program, as well as why it is imperative that you as caregivers take time to get regular exercise. Your body and mind need it! We’ll discuss benefits, things to be cautious about, and share options.

Not all families know where to start when it comes to caring for a loved one following a stroke, especially when transitioning form the hospital or long-term care facility back home. It is important that you are empowered to network with other caregivers and do not try to go it alone and that you access the resources that might make your caregiving situation more manageable.