A stroke sufferer's caregiver plays a critical role during the recovery phase, especially as the time spent in hospitals and rehabilitation facilities decrease. Recovery can last up to two years after the initial stroke adjustment. Most of that time will be sent at home. While providing care for a stroke patient can be rewarding for a loved one, it can also be stressful and frustrating. That stress can increase depending on the physical aspects of care. Coping with situation is vital to a healthy caregiver and well-adjusted patient.

Here are 5 tips for caregivers supporting stroke recovery of a loved one:

Educate Yourself

The more you know about strokes and stroke recovery the more confident you will be and the better you will be able to take care of your loved one. Take advantage of every opportunity to learn about your loved one's specific condition and prognosis. Take part in support groups or programs that are offered by the hospital. Talk with health care staffers about what the stroke recovery process will be.

Participate in Stroke Rehabilitation

It's not unusual for caregivers to attend some therapy sessions so that you can support your loved one. This gives you the opportunity to personally encourage the stroke survivor to practice new skills. Be supportive but do not always jump in to help. Allow survivors to do things for themselves. The idea is for them to feel self-reliant and confident.

Assess Your Loved One's Needs and Your Ability to Meet Them

Often caregivers are unaware of the responsibilities at hand. Caregivers often must:

• Provide personal care such as bathing and dressing
• Coordinate health care needs including sorting medicines and organizing doctor and rehab appointments
• Manage finances and insurance coverage
• Help the survivor maintain and increase their ability to function

It's important to be realistic with yourself about what you can take on and what you may need help with. Consult the survivor's health care team to help you figure out what kind of help is needed and whether this is something you can do.

Take Care of You

Caregiving is similar to becoming a parent for the first time and having a huge learning curve. It is important to take care of your needs as you take care of your loved one. Caregivers have been known to experience anxiety, guilt, depression, fear and resentment that they are giving up their life. Be patient with yourself, do not lose your own life, focus on your physical and emotional health, and remember to laugh.

Get Support

Find a support group by calling your local hospital or through an online search for caregiver support. Talking to other caregivers can help you feel less alone and provide an opportunity to share resources and caregiving tips.