How do you motivate a stroke survivor

Dear all,
I’m at a bit of a loss and not sure where to turn.
As you may know my wife has had 3 strokes, the 2nd and most serious was back in June, she’s been through hospital and rehab and is now back home with me. I think there has been a slow deterioration since leaving rehab, she is reluctant to get out of bed all day, her speech has got less, eating and drinking has slowed down, not that she ever ate much, and isn’t motivated to do much at all. In rehanb she had a lot of attention from carers and physios, all day and I would visit daily, so she had a lot of stimulation. I’m wondering how I get through to her and motivate her to engage with life again, when I ask her if she wants anything to eat, or get out of bed into her chair the answer is generally ‘no’. I’m wondering if this is common, and are there any ideas or techniques to fire up the patient again?

This is a very difficult one. From my experience and listening to others, survivors seem to fall into two groups….those. Who fight for improvement and those who, for whatever reason, tend to give in. Since your wife has had three strokes, her morale must be very low.

I would suggest small targets and trying to extend them a little every day. I learnt to break things down into stages with rests in between. When I was in rehab staff made us sit in a chair, extended the sitting time, then got us to stand regularly before introducing a walking frame.

I am not a specialist, but I am sure others will have more relevant suggestions.


@mikeyoung Hi Mike, this must be really difficult for you. It is very difficult to get people to do things they don’t want to. Is she able to tell you why she doesn’t want to do things? Are her meds making her so tired she just can’t do it? Has she seen anyone about her mood? Was there anything that you were both looking forward to that you could use as an incentive to get her moving forward ? Or just something that she’d like to do again?
Sometimes tough love is needed. If you don’t do this then this is the consequence. That might be best from someone other than you though.
Have you tried ringing the stroke association helpline for advice 0303 3033 100 they will have come across this before I’m sure.
Wishing you all the best xxx

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Hi Mike At the back of her ‘book The Stroke of Insight’ Jill Bolte Taylor gives recommendations for recovery and being a STroke Survivor herself she lists The Forty things I needed the most. And ten assessments questions. I’m sure the professionals have been thorough but it’s worth checking what the author says . She was a brain scientist before her bad stroke and recovered enough to carry on her studies


Hi Mrs5K,
Yeah thank you, I will talk to the doctors about her mood, I know they gave her something in the stroke ward to help improve her mood and appetitie actually. But some other good suggestions thank you…

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Hi Mike I’m sorry that ur wife had strokes and not rallying :pensive:when I was in rehab some people used to close their eyes and pretend to be asleep when the physios came on to the ward . I can understand why they did it physio is exhausting it’s just over a year since my stroke but when I first came home I cud barely eat and have lost 3 stone . Butbit by bit and with my husband’s encouragement my appetite got better hubby stopped putting so much food on my plate and that really helped . Getting out of bed is important do u have a bed rail ? My hubby puts the radio on for me when I’m getting up and does silly dances . He’d hold my hand and sway my arm gently to the music . Perhaps get her to read what improvements other Ss have made to motivate her . Just be as encouraging as u can I have a private physio come to the house and that still makes a difference for me I go to the gym once a week but get down about my hand and fingers we just have to be as strong as we can each day she can only do her best . Hope things improve it must be so hard for u too maybe try and talk to her about how much u want her to get better and do the things u used to do once I realised how hard it was for my husband things went smoother and I thought b4 I spoke . Xx best wishes Mike

I’m nearly64 btw xxx

It is difficult to get someone to do something they don’t want to do. My husband has decided not to take any more of his meds. This has happened before and he usually gives up before too long. Logic goes out of the window as to the idea of suddenly stopping long term meds. Pain will be the first thing that will get through to him. I am very frustrated but have to see what happens. He takes so many tablets and I can understand him not wanting to take any more but they are necessary for his well being. Has anyone else had to deal with this?

@H5JHR oh my dad did this too. He had cancer not a stroke though. We used to find his pills under his pillow , spat on the floor etc etc. In the end we asked the Dr which were the most important & just made sure he took those. It was a right battle.

Your husband sounds so lovely :pray:

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Thanku DDMH I’m very lucky to have him to care for me I don’t think I initially realised how hard it is caring for someone but appreciated more as times gone on . Motivation is what we all need but sometimes it’s damn hard when u don’t see results . I’m doing ok but I can fully understand why some might give up :pensive:I often feel like I’ve been robbed … robbed of my previous life :pensive:

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perhaps people should be given the option of whether they want to carry on. We have this silly view that everyone must struggle to continue whereas some people might not think there is much worth continuing for.

Hello cutler662. My husband feels the same as you. It is very unlikely he will ever be able to do the things he has done before and would like to call it a day. He feels that animals have the bette deal. He has always been very negative but this has got much worse since his stroke. Even the talking to a psychologist hasn’t helped.

Mike, you have my deepest sympathies.
I can relate to this so well. Although I think your situation is more extreme with your wife having had 3 strokes.
I am trying to support my mother who has had a stroke and came home 2 weeks ago. I am staying with her a few nights a week at the moment as I live far away. But generally I’m feeling I’m having to prompt her to do anything - whether it’s to take a pill, or go to bed,

And getting her to do physical exercise program provided by physio is a nightmare. She just sits in a chair all day.
I too am thinking of tough love - but how tough do you get?
It’s a difficult one. Does your local Stroke team have access to counselling or psychology professionals? I’m considering going down this route.

Take care and best of luck. Let us know how it goes.

Hi Ian,
Thank you for your reply, it is difficult to know how much to push, no question. A lot of it is to do with how the person is feeling, if you don’t feel great or are in pain, or confused etc, you’re not going to be in a very postive mood and not wanting to engage with things. I’m learning that I need to be patient with Jude’s recovery and I have noticed since she’s been home the pains she had been suffering with have reduced and so subsequently her mood has improved, she seems to be a happier person. I think patients is the key, which is easier said than done, hopefully in your case your mother will pick up and start to engage in life again soon.
Good luck :slight_smile:

Hi Mike
I have full sympayhy for you, my husbands stroke was back in June, he lost all speech, lost use of right arm and leg and has lost the sight in left eye. He came home after 4 months in hospital and rehab and he is now walking reasonably well with a stick but there has been no improvement in speech or with his arm. Communication is very difficult for us with me having to guess what he’s trying to tell me. My problem now is that he is refusing to go to therapy of any sort, it’s so frustrating and I feel like I’m failing him by not being able to motivate him. I wish you well with your wife. Regards

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