Blog Home > Blog > Caring for Someone After a Stroke: What to Expect and Tips to Simplify the Transition

A stroke and its aftermath can range from mild to debilitating. After a stroke, your loved one may need to make a lot of adjustments to comfortably recover at home. You may be needed for support in the interim. In this article, we’ll discuss the symptoms your loved one may experience post-stroke, how that may affect their daily lives, and how you can best support them through this transition to a new phase of life. Let’s dive in.

What to Expect: Post-Stroke Symptoms and Care

Almost anyone who goes through a stroke will need some form of post-stroke care. Usually, the need is most heavily concentrated in the early post-stroke days. Their needs will potentially end, or carry on through the rest of their lives, but this adjustment period in the earliest weeks and months will likely be the hardest. Even a mild stroke can cause debilitating symptoms.

Stroke recovery timelines

If your loved one just had a stroke, it’s important to know going into it that there’s no set timeline for recovery. There is, however, a typical set of phases for recovery. These include:

  • Phase 1: Any initial treatment for acute injuries and diagnosing long-term effects.
  • Phase 2: Rehab over time as needed.
  • Phase 3: Preventing another stroke, because stroke survivors are at an elevated risk of another stroke.

How long it takes to pass through these phases will vary largely depending on the age of the stroke victim, their physical and mental health and strength, and the type of stroke they experienced.

Post-stroke problems

While the actual manifestation of the condition will vary from person to person, the most common post-stroke physical problems include, but are not limited to:

  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Full or partial paralysis
  • Trouble with balance or coordination
  • Pain or numbness
  • Burning or tingling sensations
  • Difficulty bringing awareness and movement to one side of the body
  • Urinary or bowel incontinence
  • Difficulty with speech
  • Difficulty processing or understanding speech, reading, or writing
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Memory problems
  • Poor concentration or attention span
  • Problem-solving difficulties
  • Vision issues
  • Depression, anxiety, moodiness, or emotional outbursts (which can create new symptoms, like lack of appetite or sleeping problems)
  • Not recognizing their own limitations


The actual manifestations of symptoms and how they impact your loved one will also vary by where the stroke took place. Left and right side of the brain strokes can result in different symptoms.

First Steps for Caregivers

The recovery process and chances for the best possible outcomes begin in the ER. But once you step away from the hospital’s doors and head home, the recovery process shifts into one of rehabilitation and support. Here’s what your first steps should look like as you prepare for this transition:

Before Your Leave the Hospital

If you’re preparing to leave the hospital, here are a few things to consider doing first (if time allows).

Step 1: Education

The first step is to take time and educate yourself on the symptoms your loved one is displaying. Ask the hospital’s nurses and doctors what to expect and if they can prepare you for any tasks you may face at home. In addition, there are many resources available to help guide your learning, including online articles like ours and in-person support groups. The in-hospital care team should be able to point you in the right direction.

Step 2: Evaluate the home

Does your loved one need any modifications to their home to live there safely? Your doctor should be able to advise here if you’re unsure. If possible, some modifications may be made to welcome your loved one home before they leave the hospital. They may need things like a wheelchair ramp, additional outdoor railing, lighted floor paths, obstacle removal (like thick rugs or wires that could create a tripping hazard), support beams in the restroom or shower, etc. Make any modifications you can to ease the transition back home.

Step 3: Review medications

Finally, before leaving the hospital make sure you evaluate any OTC or prescription medications and supplements your loved one was taking before the visit. Compare them with anything they’ll be prescribed after the visit with the care team. They should be able to advise of any duplicates, unwanted interactions, and potential side effects.

Once You Get Home

After you arrive back home, you may feel nervous about what to expect. Here are a few things to help you prepare to ease back into what may become a new normal.

Step 4: Document recovery

As recovery continues at home, keeping a log of anything notable like mood swings, changes in physical or cognitive ability, positive changes, etc. can go a long way at follow-up rehabilitation appointments. This can help your loved one’s medical care team determine when updates or changes need to be made to the rehab schedule.

Step 5: Focus on prevention

Your loved one post-stroke, is at an elevated risk of another. (Source) As such, it’s important to focus on the lifestyle factors that influence risk, like diet, exercise, and sleep hygiene to keep those risks as low as possible.

Step 6: Look for support

There are local, state, and federal facilities and programs designed to help support and assist you and your loved one in this transition. Get in contact with the California Caregiver Resource Center nearest to you or join CareNav for free assistance with this process.

Closing Thoughts: Caring for a Stroke Victim

Strokes are terrifying and can have lasting effects that linger for both your loved one and those who care for them. If you are caring for a stroke victim, we invite you to check out our library of free resources for caregivers like you. 

The California Caregiver Resource Center is a 501c(3) nonprofit network of 11 Centers covering the entire state of California here to help connect you with medical resources and support in this journey. To get more information about the resources we have available to you as a California caregiver, contact us at the California Caregiver Resource Center nearest to you or join CareNav for free today. 

Further Reading: How to Support Independent Living: Keeping Your Loved One Safe and in Their Home

As a family caregiver in California, you know that supporting your loved ones at home is a growing challenge. You are essential in helping them stay independent. In this guide to independent living, we’ll show you how to safely support your loved one(s) in their independent living goals. Click here to read all about it.

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