Information for New Caregivers

Nearly 5 million people in the United States today have survived a stroke, affecting four out of five American families. Caring for a stroke survivor can be stressful, and the Minnesota Stroke Association is here to offer support to families and caregivers.

When people hear "caregiver," they often think only of professionals like nurses, home health aides and others who are paid for their services. In fact, a caregiver is anyone who gives assistance to another person who is ill, disabled or needs some support. They may be the daughter who moves in with an ailing mother, the neighbor who stops by to check on an older friend or the man who drives his mother to doctor visits.

A caregiver might live in the same house, in a nearby town or even another state. The care can range from modest tasks to heavy duty, round the clock assistance. Here are a few common challenges that all caregivers face:

  • Less time for personal and family life
  • The need to balance job and caregiving responsibilities
  • Financial hardships
  • Physical and emotional stress

Here are some steps that new caregivers can take to address some of their needs.

  • Determine housing options/preferences.
    • Are they able to move about freely and do things around the house?
    • Have they thought of changes in housing? Options could range from staying in their own home with some modifications to other living arrangements.
  • Learn medical history.
    • Do they have medical conditions that hinder their ability to live independently?
    • Who are their doctors?
    • What medications do they take?
  • Make a list of people in their personal support system.
    • Get contact information for everyone on the list.
  • Create a financial profile.
    • List sources of income, such as Social Security, pensions, monthly income.
    • List expenses, bank accounts and investments.
    • Get important account numbers in case these are needed in an emergency.
  • Review legal needs.
    • Check for legal documents (wills, advanced health care directives, trusts).
    • Find our where important documents such as birth certificates, deed to home and insurance policies are kept.
  • Gather information about services that can provide help.
    • Services may include home care, adult day services, home-delivered meals or support with everyday activities.