In 1992, my 32-year-old husband, Steve, had a stroke.
His speech and right-side mobility were affected, so he wasn't able to return to work. I hadn't worked in many years, and worried about how we were going to manage and raise two children.
The first months following a stroke can be very stressful for both the survivor and the survivor's family. That's why the American Stroke Association provides information, inspiration and support to stroke families at every stage of recovery. About 4.6 million stroke survivors are alive today in the United States and there are many resources available for them — from educational materials to support groups.
Stroke Family "Warmline." This toll-free information and referral service is geared for stroke survivors and caregivers. People can call 1-888-4-STROKE and ask for the Stroke Family "Warmline" and request free information such as brochures and educational materials. All calls are handled by stroke survivors and caregivers. The "Warmline" is available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Time.
Stroke Connection Magazine. This bimonthly publication was created for stroke survivors and caregivers. It offers information on stroke prevention, treatments and advances, finances related to stroke, recovery and rehabilitation, and stories of inspiration. People can call the Stroke Family "Warmline" to receive a subscription.
Stroke Support Groups. The American Stroke Association has information on 2,000 stroke support groups across the country. Callers to the "Warmline" can find out if a stroke support group exists in their area.
"Warmline" Packets. When people call the "Warmline," they may receive one or more of five information packets, including "Resources to Help You Prevent Stroke," "Introductory Information for Stroke Families," "Resources for Stroke Family Caregivers," "Resources Explaining Changes After a Stroke" and "Resources Explaining Communication Challenges After a Stroke."
Virtual Stroke Center CD-ROM. This interactive CD-ROM takes you through each and every aspect of not only surviving a stroke but, more importantly, how to prevent a stroke. The Virtual Stroke Center CD-ROM takes the user on a guided virtual tour exploring everything from the causes of stroke to diagnostic testing, surgery, rehabilitation, risk factors, drug therapies and more. There's even a special "Kids Only" section where young children can learn about what a family member might be going through and how a stroke has affected them. To order for $5, contact 1-800-AHS-9580 or visit www.AtlanticHealth.org.
Moving Forward After Stroke. "A Financial Education for Caregivers." Written by the American Stroke Association and the National Endowment for Financial Education, this guide helps families assess their financial situation after a stroke and offers a wealth of information and tips for organizing personal finances, budgeting and planning for the future. The manual is available free via the "Warmline" at 1-888-4-STROKE.
Common Threads Pen Friends: Communicate with others through this pen-pal network exclusively for stroke families. Stroke recovery is an ongoing process, and the day-to-day challenges, frustrations and accomplishments of a survivor or caregiver can only be understood by someone in a similar position. Talking with others who have experienced stroke can be extremely helpful. People can complete a registration form to receive a list of other stroke family members who have had similar experiences by visiting www.StrokeAssociation.org.
Charlie Park is the wife of a stroke survivor and a stroke support specialist at the American Stroke Association.