By Monica Vest Wheeler
Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp Staff Volunteer
A survivor’s emotional response to anything and everything may change a little or drastically in the post-stroke world. Some report spells of endless tears and then laughter or vice versa. A kind deed or moderately sad tale may turn them into a waterfall. A childhood joke may send them into convulsing laughter.
Depending on the stroke’s location, the brain injury may jumble or exaggerate emotions. The doctor may diagnose certain conditions that explain these behaviors. As the caregiver, you have the challenge of paying attention to these changes and discovering their triggers where possible. Also make sure you don’t ridicule what may seem like a childish response.
It’s exhausting and frustrating to control out-of-control emotions, even if they’re as harmless as laughter or tears. Reassure them it’s okay and it’s not them; it’s the stroke. Help them feel more comfortable around others and to create signals or words that indicate they want or need to leave when they experience these difficult emotional moments in public.
Remember, a caregiver's arms are the strongest safety net in the world.