How can I encourage my mother to be more independent after her stroke?

1 answer | Last updated: May 27, 2013
A fellow caregiver asked...
Before her stroke, my mother was very active and independent. As her rehabilitation progresses and she improves, she seems to be getting more clingy and demanding. How do I encourage my mother to do things for herself while giving her the support she needs?

Expert Answers

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

I'd enlist the help of your mother's doctor or physical therapist. Make the visit together and ask your mother's provider to instruct her on what is and isn't safe for her to do by herself. Once that's clear, let your mother do those things on her own.

Encourage your mother to be independent by having her get dressed by herself, for example, or if that's too difficult, having her pick out her own clothes. If she balks, remind her that her care provider told her how important it is that she stay active and independent.

You might also want to talk to your mother's doctor about the possibility that she may be depressed. Depression occurs in up to half of all stroke survivors, and it could be making it hard for your mother to become more independent. If you think your mother may be depressed, have her evaluated by a doctor or psychiatrist who has experience working with people who've had strokes.