Six Ways to Support a Stroke Survivor

When you know someone who is recovering from a stroke, it is important to know that social support helps the healing process. Positive relationships and interpersonal interactions can help prevent depression, which may promote optimal health and recovery after a stroke.

People with serious health problems such as cancer and stroke often notice that friends and well-wishers can be tongue-tied when they don’t know what to say. Stroke survivors are often met with artificial or exaggerated enthusiasm meant to cheer them up, or, at the other extreme, friends and family members can be tense while trying to avoid saying the wrong thing.

John Moore / Staff / Getty Images

If you have a friend, a family member, or a co-worker who is recovering from a stroke, it is a lot easier when you know what he or she needs to hear.

Here are six sentiments every stroke survivor needs to hear:

One Day at a Time

Genuinely applaud the small advances that your friend is achieving. Being able to walk 10 steps can be a great achievement for someone who could barely walk a few steps a week ago. Don't set unrealistic expectations by saying that your loved one will be able to go back to running marathons next year, because that is a setup for a disappointment.

Leave the specifics of goal setting to the therapists who know the personal details about your friend’s stroke deficit. It is true that having an attitude that, “the sky is the limit,” is encouraging, but some stroke survivors might worry about falling short of expectations. Show that you accept your friend regardless of the long-term outcome. After a stroke, improvement may be substantial or it may be minimal, and there is a level of unpredictability.

Read more  How Seniors Can Stay Safe in Summer

Can I Help You?

Better yet, what do you need next Monday? Offer to help and designate a time to make it happen. Many survivors are concerned about being a burden. When you set a few specific days that you want to help, it can encourage someone who is hesitant to take you up on your offer.

What Can I Move for You?

Many stroke survivors need to rearrange items in the house to make day-to-day life more convenient. When people have old things they want to get rid of, seasonal items to move, or things that need rearranging, the effects of a stroke feel even more profound. These tasks that may seem quick and easy for you can be overwhelming for a stroke survivor who is living with a new handicap.

Can You Help Me?

This can really make your friend feel alive and important. Ask for help or advice about his or her area of expertise, whether it is raising kids, gardening, cooking, or religion. Most people thrive on respect and recognition. If you can remind a stroke survivor of her abilities and ask him or her to share some know-how, your chat will produce memories that last for a long time.

Want to Hang Out?

Go for a walk, lunch, shopping, crafting, volunteering, or just a visit. When you tell someone who is recovering from a devastating illness that you just want to hang out together for fun without a sense of obligation, you essentially allow your friend to look at the new chapter in life. You are giving your loved one reassurance that the future is about much more than just illness.

What Are Your Plans?

When you ask about plans for your friend’s next birthday, anniversary etc., you show that you believe in the future and living life to the fullest possible. A stroke may prevent or delay spending golden years traveling the world, but it absolutely doesn’t have to put an end to enjoyment.

A Word From Verywell

Many of us, even with the best intentions, are not naturally gifted when it comes to knowing how to say the right thing. For some of us, empathy and connection take planning and a little bit of thinking ahead. It can take time to be able to imagine ourselves in someone else's shoes. A stroke survivor will benefit when you put thought into what to say to make sure they are comfortable and to make your one-to-ones encompass what he or she needs to hear.

Read more  Yes, You Can Have a Mini-Stroke. Here's Why You Need to Take It Seriously.

— Update: 22-03-2023 — found an additional article When a friend has a stroke from the website for the keyword what to say to family of stroke victim.

It can be difficult when a friend goes through any life changing event to know what to say. If you are the friend of a stroke survivor it can be hard to know how to support them. It is normal to feel anxious, you may worry about  saying the wrong thing or not knowing what to say. We have worked together with stroke survivors and their families to give you some guidance.

What to say to family of stroke victimWhat to Expect

The effects of a stroke vary greatly from person to person, making it difficult to give an exact picture of what your friend may be going through. We have listed some of the common effects of a stroke but, it is so important to realise that your friends experience is unique to them. Your friend may be living with one, none or all the common effects associated with a stroke. If possible, talk with your friend or their family beforehand and try to understand how their recovery is going.

Possible Physical Effects of a Stroke

Some survivors live with physical disabilities- the most common being muscle weakness, paralysis, and stiffness (usually on one side of the body). This can mean that your friend may need to use a wheelchair or a walking aid.

Some people still experience these effects but don’t require or use a mobility aid.  This could mean that they may walk with a limp or, if their arm has been affected one arm may appear weighted down to one side and not move very much.

A stroke can also cause facial changes most commonly one side of the face may appear to droop more than the other.

Read more  Her Sinusitis Hid a Darker Danger

It’s important to remember that your friend will be adapting to these changes themselves and they may be self-conscious. Remain calm and relaxed no matter how different your friend may appear and that they are still the same person and need your reassurance and support as they adapt.

Communication with a Stroke Survivor

What to say to family of stroke victimIn some cases, a stroke can affect communication a disorder called Aphasia. Aphasia can be frustrating for all parties but especially for the person trying to communicate. It can take time to forge a new way to interact with each other. Communication may improve as your friend recovers, or it may be something they continue to live with.

Often the survivor knows exactly what they want to say, but the words may not come out, or may come out jumbled. Be patient and don’t speak on their behalf. Ask your friend or those closest to them what the best way to communicate is, this could mean talking slower and pronouncing clearly or changing the method of communication entirely such as writing things down or using pictures instead.

Emotions after a Stroke

The emotional impact of a stroke can be huge your friend may appear to have very extreme emotions- this is called emotional lability. Your friend may laugh or cry uncontrollably. This could be because they feel happy or sad but, sometimes emotions can burst out for seemingly no reason. At first this might seem strange but in time this can become something you barely notice. laugh along with your friend if they have the giggles or if they are upset ask them if they are okay and comfort them.

We asked younger stroke survivors and their families what advice they would give to friends and six common themes appeared.

1.Be patient with me

Our members said:

2. Treat me the same way you did before my stroke.

Our members said:What to say to family of stroke victim

3. Ask me how you can help and follow it through with actions.

Our members said:

4. Communicate with me, even when it is hard

What to say to family of stroke victimOur members said:

5. Understand that my life has changed.

Our members said:

6. Keep in touch.

What to say to family of stroke victimOur members said:


Recommended For You

About the Author: Tung Chi