A free counselling service has been launched aimed at providing coping skills and vital information to people who are caring for the estimated 1,100 stroke survivors living in Westmeath.
The Irish Heart Foundation has urged people to apply immediately for the six-week service which gives them the ability to look after themselves and the strength to deal effectively with their loved one’s care.
The free programme includes up to six, one-hour sessions giving participants an opportunity to share worries and frustrations in a confidential manner and learn practical tools to help them cope as a carer.
“Becoming a carer for someone who has survived a stroke, is a huge undertaking physically, mentally and emotionally. When people are affected by stroke the new regime can be totally overwhelming for those caring for them.
“It is important that carers take care of their own mental and physical health so that they can have a reasonable quality of life, provide the care their loved ones need and cope with the demands of life as a carer,” Tracy Egan, Patient Support Manager, Irish Heart Foundation, said.
Counselling has taken the weight off the shoulders of mother of two Carol Beirne as she learns to cope with life alongside a stroke survivor.
When Eamonn suffered a stroke eleven months ago, the roles were suddenly reversed for 65-year-old Carol who, for a time, had been cared for by her husband when she had mobility issues.
“Sometimes there are things you just can’t say to your children and my counsellor just listened. By the third week of the six week hourly sessions, I felt a weight was lifted off my shoulders.
“The stroke left Eamonn with hidden disabilities. He has trouble processing his thoughts and some days, his speech is affected as he struggles to get the words out.
“Sometimes you want to finish his sentences but know not to as it’s very frustrating for him, especially when he’s talking to old colleagues who don’t know that he had a stroke.
“I learned to handle Eamonn’s emotions and frustrations and got an insight and understanding on how he must be feeling.
“Every time I walked out of a session, I was walking on air. A few years ago, Eamonn had cared for me when I had mobility issues and now I was all of a sudden helping him.
“The roles were completely reversed which was hard for both of us. I used to depend on him, but now we are working as a team.
“The counselling has also given me the confidence to write, which I give myself time to do in the mornings and in turn, it gives Eamonn his space to get emotionally ready for the day,” Carol asserted.
The free counselling supports are being made available to carers of people affected by stroke by the Irish Heart Foundation thanks to funding from the Dormant Accounts Fund.
To avail of the free counselling please email [email protected] or contact the Irish Heart Foundation on 01 668 5001.