Deciding Where to Live After a Stroke Can be Emotionally Grueling


The subject of where a stroke survivor will live can be a source of much deliberation and possible self-reproach for the spouse and children of the stroke survivor. As a neurologist, I have seen my share of anger, unrealistic expectations and blame among families as they embark on the decision about living arrangements for a loved one after a stroke. When family members decide that a stroke survivor cannot continue to live at home- there may be some strong emotions coming from many directions.


Unmet Expectations

Parents have expectations of grown children. Grown children have expectations of their siblings. Spouses of adult children may feel shortchanged by the attention given to aging in-laws. Adult children have expectations of their parent's caregivers- whether the caregiver is the stroke survivor’s spouse, ex-spouse or new spouse. And, of course, many people hold even higher expectations of themselves than those set by others. There are a number of ways you can help a stroke survivor, but adjusting living arrangements is one of the most demanding.

You might recognize some of your family’s behavior here. If so, you should know that you are not alone, as these issues are common. Or, you might breath a sigh of relief if your own experiences have been less emotionally charged than those of many families of stroke survivors.



Siblings may blame each other for not putting in their fair share in the care of a parent who has suffered from a stroke.

Adult siblings may compete in subtle or unkind ways by one-upping each other. For instance, one sibling may assert the he has a more important job and thus can't spend as much time on parental care as the sibling who earns less money or has a ‘less important’ job. On the flip side, one sibling may boast that his financial security allows him to take time off from work to care for the parent.


Parental Expectations

Pride can make some stroke survivors unrealistic about their self-care abilities. This can make many stroke survivors strive for independence long after they lose abilities of self-care.

Parents might put guilt trips on their children by comparing with others, exaggerating disappointment, even offering to ‘help’ the healthy adult child as a way of shaming him for not being there enough. Some parents may use manipulation or passive aggressive threats about inheritance to pressure adult children to care for them. Overall, patterns that were set from early years tend to be more emotionally grueling than ‘new’ methods of manipulation and guilt.


Spouse of the Stroke Survivor

Adult children may put guilt trips on divorced parents who abandoned or neglect the stroke survivor. Adult children may also place very high expectations on the spouse of the stroke survivor, blaming him for not taking ‘good enough’ care, particularly if the spouse is not the adult child’s parent.


The Stroke Survivors Network of Friends

Siblings and friends of the stroke survivor may judge the adult children harshly as not caring enough for the parent.


The Adult Child’s Own Family

Even spouses or children of adult children who put time and energy into caring for adult parents who are stroke survivors may feel neglected. Generally, the family of a caregiver is better at expressing their feelings because there is usually less history and emotional turmoil involved.


Working Out Problems

It is important to be more understanding when people don't meet your expectations. Most of the time, family members who aren't picking up the slack are not truly dumping. Usually, caregivers who have to work or cannot help financially feel guilty about their lack of participation.


If you decide that your family member is better off living somewhere besides home, you need to recognize that emotions play a role, and to pretend that all decisions are purely objective is ignoring a large part of the picture.


However- using some objective benchmarks can help in communicating with family members and alleviating some of the guilt and blame. Learn about some of the important factors you need to consider when deciding where a stroke survivor should live. Learn more about the different living options for stroke survivors.

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