Vail Daily column: You are more than your stroke |

Vail Daily column: You are more than your stroke

I recently became aware of a support group that piqued my interest. I work for a number of clients and families that have been affected by strokes. The emotional and mental toll for both the client and the family is often quite overwhelming. Providing support, education and resources to persons and families in the post-stroke recovery process is something I always find is met with tremendous appreciation.

Strokes, like heart attacks, are sudden and unexpected. There is often little or no time to prepare with how to deal with the issues that arise. Depression is often the most common emotional change after a stroke. However, other psychological changes can be equally debilitating. Cognitive challenges and personality changes are often very difficult to adjust to.

Providing insight and assistance to those affected by strokes is Andie Reed, a speech language pathologist. Reed has started a stroke survivor and care provider support group that meets every second Wednesday at 9 a.m. at the Golden Eagle Senior Center. The next meeting is to be held Dec. 11.

Reed is the former head of a Neuro-Team and a graduate of Northern Arizona University. She specializes in the physical, emotional and spiritual care of individuals who have had a stroke with regard to communication and swallowing difficulties that may arise following such an event.

“I have previously had the privilege of leading a support group for stroke survivors, and it is amazing what together you can accomplish” Reed said.

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Stretch your limits

Stroke groups challenge people to get beyond their doctor, therapist, family and self-imposed limitations.

“No one gets better unless they’re challenged to stretch their limits,” said Patrick Boland, a 15-year stroke survivor and president of the North Texas Stroke Survivors, an association of more than 50 groups. “Unfortunately, we survivors are too often given a ‘cultural bye’ from society; Because we’ve had a stroke, we don’t have to produce results anymore. No one expects anything of us. A good support group provides a place where survivors can be challenged in increments.”

Recent scientific studies are validating the importance of social support in stroke recovery. Social interaction and simply feeling connected to others helps ease the depression and isolation so common after stroke.

Can-Do Attitude

Attitude is such a big part of emotional and physical healing. One of the greatest benefits of a stroke support group is the opportunity to be around people with great attitudes. Survivors often find that the can-do attitude of an effective stroke group is infectious and changes their experiences.

Some of the benefits a support group happen simply by getting people out of their homes. It helps just to see different faces and hear different voices. A support group is the perfect replacement to sitting home and watching TV.

For persons affected by stroke or those looking for an education source, please feel free to come to the next support group meeting on Dec. 11. Light refreshments are provided.

On behalf of Visiting Angels and all the families that will be receiving a free Thanksgiving dinner this week, I would like to extend a very heart felt thank you to City Market, Sweet Basil and Paradigm restaurants. Their kindness and generosity will be appreciated more than they may ever know. As a community, we should be grateful that these businesses graciously go above and beyond to give back and make our valley such a unique place.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. For more information, go to http://www.visiting or call 970-328-5526.

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