Families and carers

Stroke is a family affair and a labour of love. Many people who have survived a stroke are left disabled and are cared for at home by their families. But there is often a cost to family life. About half of families may encounter financial stress, and three quarters of the carers experience some loss of social life. Depression is also a frequent problem, even if it appears to reduce with time. 44

Some coping techniques can help family or a carer deal with everyday issues, but don't be afraid to talk to your doctor when things start feeling overwhelming, as there is specialised help available.

Real-life story: Sonal - The strength to support posterimage

Real-life story: Sonal - The strength to support


Family, Friends and AF - poster image

Family, Friends and AF


Being a Carer

When people who have had a stroke become frustrated or angry, they often direct this at their family or those caring for them. If you are a carer, you may from time to time be on the receiving end of angry outbursts that frighten or upset you, especially if they feel like a personal attack.

Sometimes anger and aggression can be avoided. Try to give the person you are caring for as much choice as possible, even down to small things – like which socks they want to wear. These are normal, everyday choices they would have made for themselves prior to the stroke. Be patient; allow plenty of time for them to carry out tasks and to respond to you. Pay attention; don’t ask them to do something you know they will not be able to do as failure is likely to cause anger.

There are coping techniques for dealing with aggressive behaviour that may help you. These include:

  • explaining that the behaviour is not acceptable
  • asking friends and family to support you by giving the same message
  • being firm but polite
  • explaining that you are frightened or upset
▶  The Effects of a Stroke on Personality

"My wife is taking care of me, she is the only one who can drive now, so everywhere I have to go she has to take me. Those are the types of implications; it’s happened to me but is also affecting her"

Dilip, 59
Stroke survivor

Where to get help?

There are a range of specialised services that you can use to help you cope with caring for someone who has had a stroke. Your GP will help you access the appropriate services.

  • Social worker – offers short term counselling while in hospital
  • NHS Counsellor or psychotherapist – often based in GP practices, this service will help identify problems through talking
  • Occupational therapist – helps with the practical task of modifying your home
  • Mental health team – provides help in the community during difficult periods
  • Clinical psychologist – undertake thorough assessments of mental health needs and provide individual or group therapy
  • Clinical neuropsychologist – provide specialist assessments of cognitive and emotional function
  • Consultant psychiatrist – has overall responsibility for the health of the person who has had a stroke
  • Language therapist – helps patients in which stroke has led to damages in the language area of the brain and helps them to communicate more effectively
  • Online forums for patients and carers living in more remote areas.