Following a stroke, seniors will likely need medications to deal with conditions directly related to their stroke or preexisting conditions further complicated by the stroke. Many of the medications prescribed post-stroke address pain, depression, anxiety, agitation and difficulty sleeping. Some of these may include any of the following medications.
Pain and Depression Medications
Observant part-time or live-in caregivers are usually better at spotting signs of depression in their senior loved ones following stroke. Symptoms tend to develop slowly during the recovery process, especially as seniors become increasingly aware of the scope of their condition. Depression can also be linked to increased or new pain a senior may experience following his or her stroke.
• Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (balances chemicals in the brain affecting mood and may help with pain)
• Tricyclic antidepressants (improves mood and regulates pain)
• Anticonvulsants (affects the central nervous system to relieve chronic pain)
Possible side effects include restlessness, irritability, and changes in appetite.
Some seniors have difficultly staying or getting to sleep following a stroke. It’s believed that the problem is related to disturbances to the circadian rhythm (day-night sleep cycle), often occurring during an ischemic stroke (blockage of arteries to the brain).
• Trazodone and mirtazapine (antidepressants with sedative effects)
• Chloral hydrate
• Nonbenzodiazepine hypnotics (for short-term insomnia treatment)
Possible side effects include dizziness, nausea, and rebound anxiety.
Anxiety following a stroke can make it difficult for seniors to respond well to rehabilitation and recovery efforts. When anxiety is observed, medications can help ease nerves.
• Lorazepam (and some other benzodiazepines)
Possible side effects include difficulty with coordination, drowsiness (except for the benzodiazepines), and lightheadedness.
As with depression, caregivers who provide home care in Columbus for a senior loved one often help doctors known if increased agitation is far different from their loved one’s personality pre-stroke. When agitation makes interactions with doctors, nurses and family members difficult, medication sometimes help improve mood.
• Neuroleptics (alters chemicals in the brain affecting mood)
Possible side effects include headache, stomach pain, and back and leg pain.
Note: Most listed side effects are mild with short-term use.
There are no medications that specifically address memory loss or confusion related to stroke. However, recent research suggests that memantine (Namenda), a drug widely prescribed to reduce the severity of Alzheimer’s symptoms, may also benefit senior stroke survivors.
Are you finding it challenging to manage your loved one’s post-stroke care needs on your own? Know that help is available. At Home Care Assistance of Columbus, our part-time and respite caregivers can step in and supplement the care you already provide, ensuring your love one has all the support he or she needs and you have time to manage your own personal needs. For more information, give us a call at (614) 481-8888 and schedule a complimentary in-home consultation.