United States Department of Veterans Affairs
 Health Care
What to do if your Veteran has a stroke
VA has 44 easy-to-read Fact Sheets online — a Lifeline for Caregivers!
RESCUE logo with red and white life preserver

An estimated 15,000 Veterans suffer a stroke each year.

Because stroke onset is so sudden, family members and friends unexpectedly become a loved one’s caregiver and are caught unprepared for this new role.

What do I do now?

Most family caregivers lack basic knowledge about stroke, the stroke recovery process, how to care for a stroke survivor, and how to prevent future strokes. They also may not know how to avoid or reduce the stress and challenges that come with being a caregiver.

In addition to their existing home and work responsibilities, a new caregiver takes on the role of serving as a “lifeguard,” responsible for the safety and well-being of the stroke survivor.

Like a lifeguard, caregivers need the knowledge, training, and tools to preserve the life of the stroke survivor, while taking care to keep themselves from drowning.

Where can I get help?

Recognizing that caregivers have this urgent need for information, the VA has launched the RESCUE website. RESCUE stands for Resources and Education for Stroke Caregivers’ Understanding and Empowerment.

Information on the RESCUE website is available on 44 easy-to-read fact sheets.

Caregivers can download and print the fact sheets in English and Spanish.

The fact sheets are organized into nine categories:

  • General Stroke Information
  • Obtaining Good Healthcare and Information
  • Keeping Your Loved One Healthy
  • Helping Your Loved One Become More Independent
  • Caring for Someone with Physical Needs
  • Caring for Someone with Emotional and Behavioral Needs
  • Understanding How Caring for a Loved One Affects You
  • Finding Community Resources
  • Managing Financial and Legal Issues

The RESCUE website was designed to serve as an educational lifeline, to help the caregiver “keep their head above water.” The rescuer (caregiver) may be overwhelmed and eventually feel like the one who needs to be rescued.

Visitors to the RESCUE website can also view the bi-monthly RESCUE Newsletter and access previous newsletters.

The RESCUE Newsletter covers a wide range of topics facing stroke caregivers, such as post-stroke depression, sex after stroke, and web links for caregiver resources.

My HealtheVet adds to the program

One of the resources regularly featured in the RESCUE Newsletter is the VA’s My HealtheVet website.

Registered “My HealtheVet” users have access to helpful health tracking tools in the “Vitals and Readings” section. Several of the tracking tools are related to risk factors for stroke, such as blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and body weight.

Once Veterans enrolled for VA health care complete the “My HealtheVet” in-person authentication process they can receive online access to portions of their electronic medical record and the VA prescription refill service.

VA researcher Constance R. Uphold, PhD, ARNP and her team are responsible for creating this valuable, helpful website to provide critical information which could save your Veteran’s life.