Caregiving for a Stroke Survivor Over the Holidays

The holiday season is nearing and many families who care for stroke survivors grapple with the same question- what will I do with mom or dad during vacation season? 

You are likely to be facing a holiday dilemma if you are a caregiver of a loved one who has had a stroke. You might be regularly taking care of anything from transportation, to meal preparation, to safety, to help getting around the house to assistance with health care visits and prescriptions, if not more.


What do you do when you want to go on vacation or to a holiday party? How can you balance your caregiving responsibilities with your need to enjoy some activities that might not be handicapped accessible or that your stroke survivor loved one just wouldn't like? What if you do not have family members who can help?

Here are some frequently asked questions about caregiving for a stroke survivor during the holiday season.

Can my loved one travel on an airplane? 

The answer is that an airplane ride in itself is not dangerous for a stroke survivor and neither is high altitude. However, large airports, small airplane seats and challenges such as reaching the toilet in an airport or on an airplane can make travel for a stroke survivor more agonizing than it is worth. 

What if my loved one's doctor is going on vacation? 

Often, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Years are times for many people to take a vacation with their families because kids are off from school- and that includes some medical office and hospital staff.

Rest assured, however, that while it might be hard to get a 'routine' appointment or schedule elective procedures, hospitals are properly staffed over the holidays to handle urgent matters and emergencies. As a special precaution, make sure that your loved one’s important medical history and medication doses are available to hand to emergency personnel in case of an emergency.

Can I leave my loved one alone?

There are some rules of thumb you can use to determine whether your loved one can handle some time alone. Examine these factors carefully to help you decide if you can safely leave your stroke survivor loved one on her own for a few days while you are on vacation. Even if your loved one can stay alone for a few days, for your own peace of mind, you might ask a trusted friend to pop in to check on him or to give your loved one some company while you are away.

How can I find someone to check in on him while I am away?

Most families don't have the luxury of living within a short distance of many extended family members who rotate responsibilities with ease and fluidity. If you decide to go out of town, you can hire someone to look in on your loved one to avoid leaving him completely alone. Ask around for recommendations at rehabilitation centers or stroke support groups and start interviewing candidates early. Nursing students or physical therapy students who want to make extra money during school breaks may be well suited to look after your loved one. Staying in touch through a few video chats can put you, your loved once and your temporary caregiver at ease.

Are there places where my loved one can stay while I am gone?

You can certainly check on temporary living accommodations in long-term living facilities, if your loved one would not object. Case managers may be able to recommend suitable places and even long-term care facilities may help point you in the right direction. This would take planning well in advance of your vacation.

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