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“Stroke camp” offers caregivers emotional support, physical relief and education

Stroke camp provides caregivers with much needed peer support, emotional relief and learning opportunities, according to research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2016.

Depression, loneliness and social isolation are common among people who care for strokesurvivors. The Retreat and Refresh Stroke Camp is a two-and-a-half-day experience, staffed by volunteer healthcare providers and therapists, which brings stroke survivors and caregivers together for education, recreation and support activities. Sixty-seven caregivers attended the camps from 2009 to 2015 and answered survey questions about caregiving and their camp experiences.

Researchers analyzed those surveys and found:

  • 80 percent of caregivers felt stroke impacted work and life. Of those, 64 percent noted the strain of having to change personal plans, 43 percent cited being confined to home and 40 percent were concerned with financial pressures.
  • 75 percent noted loss of time and freedom.
  • 50 percent indicated the survivor’s loss of the ability to communicate and 45 percent pointed to the loss of companionship as major strains.
  • 50 percent of caregivers felt overwhelmed/stressed/depressed upon returning home from the hospital.
  • Stroke camp helped the majority of the caregivers who attended. Seventy-nine percent indicated the camp experience made them feel less alone, 77 percent said it recharged them and 58 percent noted it educated them.

The long-term impact and cost-benefit of the camp still needs to be studied, researchers said.