Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States experiences a stroke. Every 4 minutes, someone in the United States will die from a stroke. That is just a very narrow scope of how common strokes are. When we zoom out and look at the larger scale, that is 795,000 strokes every year.

Neither stroke victim nor their loved ones can ever predict the spontaneity of a stroke. While some of the recovery period will happen within the first 30 days, the stroke rehabilitation period continues long after that, depending on the severity of the stroke and its effects on the body and mind.

The early stages of recovery will be the most challenging adjustment period. Your parent may no longer be able to talk, they may have lost their ability to walk, and they may have experienced some memory loss. But this period isn’t just difficult on them as they get accustomed to a new lifestyle, it is also hard for their loved ones. You will constantly be concerned there is the potential of another stroke and you may have the difficult decision of putting your parent in a nursing home.

Learning how to take on the role of a caregiver can be confusing. How much do you do to help your loved one? How much do you let them do on their own?

Allow them to be as independent as possible.

It is easy to perceive the person recovering from the stroke as fragile. While they are adjusting to a new lifestyle, they often can do more than others give them credit for. Encourage them to be as independent as possible – this will only be beneficial to their recovery period.

Keep them involved in the conversation about their health.

If the topic of a nursing home comes up, don’t leave your loved one in the dark. In fact, allowing them to be a part of the conversation is encouraged since that is where they will reside full-time.

Involve them with family and friends.

Neurologist and stroke specialist Matthew E. Tilem says, “Quality of life is the goal of rehabilitation.” Whenever possible, engage them in leisurely activities they used to love doing, especially with other family members and friends around.