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In the Spotlight

Stroke Caregivers and RESCUE

Contributed by Connie Uphold, Ph.D., APRN; Kimberly Findley, RN; Kristen Wing

Every November we honor Veterans Day. We acknowledge the men and women who served our Nation. November is also National Family Caregiver Month. We salute family caregivers who go "above and beyond the call of duty" supporting Veterans. No soldier goes into battle alone. No Veteran travels alone on the road of recovery from illness and injury. A skilled and well-informed caregiver is central to a Veterans' health. A Veterans level of independence may depend on the presence of a caregiver.

More than three-quarters of a million Americans suffer a stroke each year. Roughly, four out of five families in the United States are affected by stroke. There is a good chance that someone you meet today is a caregiver to someone who has survived a stroke. Many caregivers lack basic knowledge about strokes. They need information to help manage stroke recovery. Caregivers want to learn ways to prevent complications and future strokes. They can use tips on caring for stroke survivors. They need to know how to avoid caregiver burden and stress.

A VA research team is focused on stroke caregiver information. The goals of this stroke education are:

  • Empower stroke caregivers through information about problems and concerns they may have

  • Give caregivers confidence

  • Support caregivers as a member of the health care team

  • Address concerns of the Veteran stroke survivor

The team provides a newsletter with helpful tips about caregiving and its challenges. Their newsletter is called Resources and Education for Stroke Caregivers' Understanding and Empowerment, (or RESCUE). RESCUE stands for the idea that a caregiver is a "lifeguard." The caregiver is responsible for the safety and well-being of the stroke survivor. Like a lifeguard, a fully prepared rescuer is ready to spring into action.

The RESCUE Newsletter raises awareness about stroke caregiving issues. Stroke caregivers can learn about life changes after a stroke. They can learn about physical effects of stroke. They can learn about emotional and mental health after a stroke. They can even learn about money issues. For example, the RESCUE Newsletter has covered:

  • Stroke risk factors and prevention

  • After stroke depression

  • Sex after stroke

  • Stress management for the stroke caregiver

Past issues cover from March to October 2009. They can be viewed at RESCUE: Resources & Education for Stroke Caregivers' Understanding and Empowerment. This newsletter is for caregivers, family, friends, Veteran stroke survivors, and VA staff. RESCUE information is easy-to-read and user friendly. This can be found on My HealtheVet under the Caregiver Assistance Healthy Living Center.

Read More

What the Caregiver Needs to Know - Stroke (My HealtheVet)

Caregiver Assistance (My HealtheVet)

Advanced Information

VA/Department of Defense Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of Stroke Rehabilitation (VA/DoD Clinical Practice Guidelines)

The "Web-based Informational Materials for Caregivers of Veterans Post-Stroke" project (#SDP 06-327), Constance Uphold, PhD, APRN, Principal Investigator, is supported by VA Health Services Research and Development (HSR&D) Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI) and the Rehabilitation Outcomes Research Center (RORC) Research Enhancement Award Program (REAP) at the North Florida/South Georgia Veteran Health System (NF/SGVHS) in Gainesville, Florida.

Updated/Reviewed: October 30, 2009