My husband had a stroke and now makes no effort to improve. What can I do?

6 answers | Last updated: Apr 02, 2015
A fellow caregiver asked...

My husband suffered a stroke 2 years ago. I can't get him to go out to see friends. The only places he will go is to therapy and to his doctor's appointment. He refuses to exercise and is always complaining how stiff his left side is. He can walk with the aid of a walker, but other than that, he does nothing but eat, sit and watch tv and sleep. I am his only caregiver and by me working, going to school and caring for him, my plate is rather full. I know that he is in a state of depression and he refuses to seek help. What can I do? I am at the point of leaving him if he continue to refuse treatment.

Expert Answers

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

Sorry to hear about your situation. I would agree with you that it sounds like he is in a depression, and that he needs help. I would ask friends and relatives of his to help you convince him that he needs help. Perhaps a trip to his regular doctor, after you call his doctor to express your thoughts, might be helpful to get him started on an anti-depressant. That would be a good first step. Often, I find that convincing a patient to see a Psychiatrist right away is more difficult - comes with a stigma and the patient is resistant. However, if his regular doctor can get him started on an anti-depressant and then later convinces him to see a Psychiatrist, that may work out best. Of course, if he is having any suicidal thoughts, then you would need to seek the help of a Psychiatrist immediately.

Overall, depression works against the patient very much in the effort to improve after stroke. I agree with you that this issue needs to be aggressively addressed.

Good luck!

Community Answers

Nccaregiver answered...

Many people who have suffered a stroke refuse help despite wanting to return to their normal state of independence. Unfortunately, they often go through a period of depression too. If you can get your husband to attend an adult day care, not only would he get the socialization he needs, but therapeutic programming and rehab as well. Here's a link to an article about a man in Greenville, SC who suffered a spinal cord injury, but decided to live life to the fullest. Look into medical adult day care for your husband's sake. You'll be glad you did.

Franstanat answered...

All that Dr Castle and nccaretaker say is true but not helpful. I understand how difficult it must be for the individual who has had their independence and abilites taken from them but gentle and/or aggresive pushing and cajoling do not seem to work...nor does medication. How does one motivate a depressed, unmotivated person to try?

Rk smith answered...

My husband also had a stroke about 8 years ago and he is bedridden. He was sent home also for only me to attend and care for him. I have only one thing to say and that is "Do not spoil him"! I catered to my husband and babied him 24/7 and I am paying for it no. I have no help either and it has taken it's toll on me. You will begin to hate him and begin to feel as though no one care's about you. Hang in there. If I can do it, you can do it also. I had to quit my job and give up my social life for him. He doesn't even let me sleep at night. You will find yourself working 4 shifts of a nursing home with your care for him. They say it is all "LOVE". Ha! Good luck! Wish we were close by so we could help one another.

A fellow caregiver answered...

Doctors initially diagnosed my husband with depression too when he had a significant hemorrhagic stroke and had no motivation to exercise or socialize. Finally, the neurologist showed me the MRI and said the stroke permanently affected the part that keeps him "on tasks". Now they say vascular disease is causing gait and balance problems. One thing I have learned over the past 5 yrs. is that doctors not only don't always have the answers but they are not "House" and don't care why the patient is getting worse.

Jainnagraj answered...

Constantly try to motivate him with talk theorapy.You must talk the same thing ten times to him. He will follow you if like pet he is convinced that it is in his best interest. Your patience will pay you . Do it as in a best way as possible. Make him listen to religious songs he is familiar with. Make him read good stories.Take him to shops for purchases. Keep him buisy in the activities where other peoples are involved.Try all the motivation trics repeatedly till he shows signs that he himself wants to do. I have tried and succeeded.