Interacting with Stroke Survivors

10 Guidelines for Interacting with a Stroke Survivor

  1. Treat me the same way as you did before my stroke – I am the same person.
  2. Every stroke is different; therefore every stroke survivor is different. Common impairments for stroke survivors are: Vision, balance, speech, hearing, and paralyzed on one side.
  3. Some stroke survivors have difficulty communicating verbally as well as reading, writing, spelling, and understanding what is being said, this is called aphasia. Our brains have been rewired which affects our communication. So, we need you to: Give us enough time to respond. Talk slowly; offer at times to repeat yourself. Be patient when trying to communicate with us. It is okay to help us find a word when we are having trouble.
  4. There are other ways of communication besides words: gestures, facial expressions, body language, pictures, pen & paper.
  5. Treat us like adults and not children. Speak directly to us, not our spouse or friend. Don’t talk like the stroke survivor isn’t there. Laugh with us not at us.
  6. Give the stroke survivor a chance to be independent. Ask before you help them. Follow his/her instructions for initiating the help.
  7. Many stroke survivors have problems with balance. A rough pat on my back, shoulder, or arm can easily set us off balance and can hurt me. Be gentle and understand that it can take a lot of concentration to walk, especially on uneven surfaces.
  8. Wheelchair and walker are extensions of us. Please respect our space. If you bump the chair, please say excuse me. Please don’t lean on a wheelchair.
  9. Talk to us at eye level when possible when we are in a wheel chair. You can also back up a few feet to make it easier for a person in a wheelchair to look at you.
  10. When we are tired and/or frustrated, ALL of our basic skills (i.e. talking, walking, handwriting, and concentration) diminish. If we are more agitated than usual, we are probably tired or frustrated! Have patience and encourage us to rest or “take a break” when appropriate.