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Behavioral Changes Seniors Experience After a Stroke

Not only are there a number of physical changes that seniors and their caregivers must adjust to after a stroke, but there are also many behavioral changes that can occur as well. These changes can be temporary or they may be long-lasting. Understanding their cause is key to helping seniors deal with and overcome these often surprising developments.

Decreased Cognitive Functioning

Annapolis stroke care providers understand firsthand the significant changes in cognitive functioning that commonly occur in stroke survivors. For instance, seniors are likely to experience an increased difficulty in problem-solving after these events. How strokes affect cognitive abilities and behaviors is largely determined by the side and portion of the brain injured. Left-brain strokes tend to make learning and retaining new information difficult, while long-term memory often remains unchanged. Conversely, a right-brain stroke can cause seniors to get things out of sequence and frequently leads to confusion or misinterpretation. Encouraging repetition and rehearsal of new or confusing ideas can help the brain restore important neural connections during the recovery process.


Apathy is also common after a stroke. It is important to encourage your loved one to stay active and engaged as much as possible. Invite him or her to go on regular walks or on another social outing. Stroke survivors tend to become increasingly connected and responsive as their activity levels increase. Although apathy is caused by a number of psychological factors, there are also physiological issues at play. Putting the body in motion increases blood circulation, prompts the release of mood-boosting chemicals like serotonin, and takes the mind off of challenging circumstances that lie beyond the survivor’s power to change.


Depression can and often does exist among stroke survivors. These individuals have been forced to contend with a number of extreme physical and lifestyle changes including partial or even full loss of mobility in various areas and marked alterations to the facial structure. Picking up the proverbial pieces can be difficult. Caregivers in Annapolis can offer emotional support and help seniors maintain a positive and proactive outlook while recovering from this event. When depression seems severe, however, it is best to talk with the senior’s doctor.

Emotional Lability

Stroke survivors may exhibit emotions that are not in line with how they’re actually feeling. For instance, a senior may cry uncontrollably when he or she feels like laughing. These events can be embarrassing for the stroke survivor and uncomfortable for those who witness them. There are also times when an appropriate emotional response is greatly exaggerated.

These changes in behavior are known as emotional lability, and they are the direct result of the physiological damages that have been caused by the stroke. Touch can help comfort and calm people during these outbursts. There are also effective distraction techniques that can be used to shorten them. One of the best things that caregivers and other family members can do, however, is to simply be sympathetic and understanding and recognize that these responses are neither willful nor possible to control.

With the right support, your loved one can experience an efficient and comfortable stroke recovery at home. Find the resources you and your loved one need by reaching out to Home Care Assistance. We provide senior care Annapolis families trust, and our experienced and compassionate caregivers can help your loved one with a wide variety of tasks as they recover. To learn more, call 443-302-2771 and speak with a devoted Care Manager today.