What can I do to encourage my father to work on recovering from his stroke?

6 answers | Last updated: Jan 13, 2013
A fellow caregiver asked...

My 64-year-old father had a stroke six months ago, and he doesn't seem to care about getting better. He won't do any of his rehabilitation exercises, and he refuses to stop smoking. What can I do to encourage him?


Expert Answers

James Castle, M.D. is a neurologist at NorthShore University HealthSystem (affiliated with The University of Chicago) and an expert on strokes.

Your father may be suffering from depression, which affects as many as half of people who've had a stroke. Symptoms of depression can include a lack of energy and interest, along with changes in appetite and sleeping habits, agitation and restlessness, and crying episodes. Depression can be detrimental to a stroke patient's long-term recovery and overall health. 

If you think your father could be depressed, I wouldn't wait to have him evaluated. Be sure to get him in to see his doctor or a psychiatrist. He may benefit from psychotherapy or medication.

As a caregiver, you can encourage his progress by providing emotional support, a positive attitude, and an environment that's conducive to recovery. Have your father go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning. Open the shades of his room or take him outside during daylight hours to let him know it's time to stay awake and work on improving his strength. Creating a positive, healthy environment can go a long way toward helping your father feel motivated to do the work of recovery.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

my husband had a stroke in Sept 2008 he did agressive rehab was doing well then six months after it he went into a depression I did try to boost him up with positive attitude but he like your father seemed to give up He finally went to the doctor and the doctor tried all types of meds that had an adverse reaction on my husband which made it worse finally his doctor sent him to a psychiatrist and through trial and error received a med that helped him ~ he was only on it temporarily by July he was doing much better Your role as a caregiver is very hard just keep trying and I'll keep you in my prayers I've been there I know


A fellow caregiver answered...

The opinions from Dr. Castle are in total conflict with another fantastic interview on this site, one done with Jill Bolte Taylor. She is a neuro scientist who had a stroke. I suggest you read her interview on this site then come up with your own opinion. I value Jill's insights much, much more than any from this guy.


Jainnagraj answered...

In case of my wife I had the same experience. She was not having motivation to come out for about nine months. But then all of sudden with efforts we found that now she is motivated. In her case she wanted to live but she was not motivated. Now She wants to live and she is motivated too. She takes her medicines regularly and ask for as reminder many times.'Talk Therapy" may work.Go on talking to him about recovery.


Mary simpson answered...

I THINK DR CASTLE LISTED SOME VERY VALID IDEAS. I WOULD ADD CHECK IF CENTRAL PAIN OR OTHER BODY PAINS MIGHT BE LIMITING HIS ABILITY TO WORK THROUGH THE REHAB. I SUGGEST YOU AND HE BOTH GET INTO AN ONLINE STROKE SUPPORT AND ANY FACE TO FACE STROKEE MEETINGS HELD IN YOUR AREAS. HE NEEDS TO BE AWARE OF HOW MUCH RECOVERY CAN ACTUALLY HAPPEN.... ALSO I WANT TO SHARE THE FOLLOWING WITH YOU AND ALL CAREGIVERS.. YOU NEVER KNOW IF HES IN A SLUMP SIMPLY BECAUSE OF SOME SIMPLE LACK HES FEELING. PROVIDE AS MUCH OF A "LIFE " AS YOU CAN TO GO WITH ANY MEDS THAT CAN HELP RAISE MOTIVATION. HANG IN THERE. FEEL FREE TO PASS ALONG THE FOLLOWING TO ANYONE YOU FEEL CAN USE IT. AND HELP HIM UNDERSTAND HE IS STILL HERE AND CAN HAVE A LIFE HE LIKES. HUGS MARY

WHO IS A HEALER? by Mary Simpson September 1997

It is said....... A "healer" is one who evokes the "will" to live in someone. So simple, anyone can be an instrument of healing to someone who is deprived of their former life. ..... A situation that can become a heavy burden to bear.

What basic steps can be used?

A "shut in;" recent or not so recently disabled friend can feel the overburdening lack of "little insignificant" interactions to their senses. Such as.......

"¢petting an animal "¢touching a tree "¢setting under the stars "¢feeling the warmth of the sun "¢smelling a forest "¢feeling rain on their skin "¢planting a flower "¢touching sand; soil; rocks. "¢hearing the sound of wind blowing trees "¢holding a sea shell, feather, piece of wood "¢seeing a favorite impressive view "¢watching a sunrise/sunset "¢being near a small child "¢enjoying the artistry of others....art; music; etc. "¢visiting in person, or through the mail with old friends "¢going to old "haunts" not visited since the disability "¢tasting a longed for taste

The human condition requires stimulation of all the 5 bodily senses: touching; hearing; seeing; smelling; tasting. Any "perceived" lack in these areas can lead to intense despair.

Find out in casual conversation..... "What seems to be, the overriding feeling of lack at this moment?" The answer may surprise you. It may be such a trivial thing. Never promise anything, a disappointment can lead to further loss of hope. However, if you can bring a "lacked" situation back into their narrow environment, even once to a small degree , you can be a "healer".

A person who feels "imprisoned" in body and environment..... is a person that may have lost hope. Lost hope leads to "willing" the body to die. Even the smallest change in their situation can change the quality of life, and therefore, their "will" to live.

If you have a friend who has had a stroke or other major, limiting health problem, do not drift away. Keep in touch. Even if you feel the friend no longer seeks you out....it may be due to their feelings of being a burden to you, or through unwanted feelings of begging for your attention.

You can be that special angel that makes the "world of difference" in their lives.

Everyone can be a "HEALER"! God smiles through you.


A fellow caregiver answered...

I would recommend a book called My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey. Self awakening , Will power, will to live better, Will to be less of a burden or cause of anxeity for a caregiver are all the key things your father should learn.

Again there are some people who have smoked, boozed and lived healthy .. Ozzy osborne for example ... So The flip side of the coin is that anxiety is also experienced by family and not by the patient