Do you have a loved one or friend who suffered a stroke recently? Returning home after a stay in hospital and recovering well can be daunting for some, especially those who are affected by a severe stroke. Very often, caregivers and family members also feel stressed and uncertain over what they should do and how they can provide quality care at home.
Depending on the severity of the stroke, individuals may lose their mobility overnight. Everyday tasks such as brushing of teeth, getting dressed, or stepping out of the home may become more difficult to manage. Some may even experience difficulty swallowing and communicating.
The good news is that there are adaptive devices to help stroke patients achieve greater independence and cope better with activities of daily living, including dressing, bathing, cooking, feeding, toileting and mobility aids. There is also an assortment of assistive devices for self-care, such as combing hair, cleaning feet, wearing shoes or managing their zips or buttons. Through therapy and adopting safety precautions at home, changes in lifestyle, and utilising adaptive equipment, individuals can better work towards their full recovery.
Here are some practical devices to consider:
BATHING AND HYGIENE AIDS
Long-handed sponge for bathing
Stroke often causes muscle weakness or loss of full control of the muscles, making it harder to manage daily routines like showering. Using a long-handed brush can help to scrub hard-to-reach parts of your body. There are also bendable long-handled sponges that allow one to clean hard-to-reach spots like the back or behind the leg. There are also long brushes which you can use to clean your toes without bending.
A shower chair can offer support to individuals who have difficulty standing for a long period of time. The occupational therapist may advise on how grab bars can be installed in the shower area to provide better support for those who depend on mobility devices like a walker or wheelchair to move around. Grab bars and non-skid floor stickers will also help to prevent falls when getting in and out of the wet area. A three-in-one commode chair with a raised seat and grab bars on both sides of the chair and a removable bucket may also be considered.
The loss of dexterity and vision can make trimming nails difficult. There are devices which make it possible to trim one’s nails using one hand. Other grooming devices also include hair dryer racks, toothpaste squeezers, and various utensils with adapted handles.
Stroke survivors with decreased motor coordination or painful joints should try and avoid clothes they have difficulty putting on. Dressing aids like a button hook can help individuals with limited dexterity to button their shirts. The use of velcro fasteners or elastic instead of buttons, zippers and shoelaces can make fastening clothes or footwear easier. There are many other adaptive dressing aids available to allow individuals to dress independently.
Muscle weakness after a stroke may affect grip strength. There are feeding and eating aids for stroke victims, such as adult bibs, scoop plates, food bumpers, plate guards, and other adaptive devices that make it easier to use common utensils and solve dining challenges. For example, a curved spoon allows food to enter the mouth easily.
People with a weak grip or who have the use of a single hand can still eat independently with practical devices. Using special plates with raised edges for scooping food can help improve grip and control, making eating easier. Bowls with added weight can provide greater stability to people who have suffered a stroke.
If you have any enquiries on these assistive devices or how to make your homes safer through home modification, please call TOUCH Care Line at 6552 5555. Our team of occupational therapists will help to address your needs.
TOUCH Caregivers Support (TCG) was set up to help caregivers for older people cope with the challenges of caregiving. TCG also works closely with TOUCH Home Care’s (THC) trans-disciplinary team of doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and care coordinators to offer a suite of home-based care and support services. TCG’s Care Line, manned by field professionals, operates from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm (excluding Public Holidays and eve of Christmas, New Year and Chinese New Year). Caregivers can also receive customised home-based caregiver training by therapists and nurses. TCG also provides a one-stop service for home modifications to create a safer home environment for the elderly and their caregivers. A Facebook Caregivers Support Group (Singapore) was also set up to build a safe online environment to provide peer support and information exchange. Caregivers can log onto www.touch.org.sg/caregivers for caregiver-related support and services.