My dad had a stroke in December - personality changes

Hello - joined here a couple of weeks ago but first time getting stuck in!

My dad had two strokes in early December - one on each side of his brain. His speech and language were severely affected, he was unable to talk and unable to understand/process speech. His mobility was not affected thankfully. He made good progress whilst he was in hospital and came home a couple of weeks ago.
He’s able to communicate much better although suffering with aphaisia so some words escape him or become jumbled up. We’ve noticed this gets a lot worse when he’s tired. His understanding of speech is also better, as long as it’s short clear sentences spoken slowly.

However, we’ve noticed throughout that his inhibitions are lowered and his emotions are a lot more variable. When dad first came home, he was almost child like - very happy and jolly. Unfortunately my mum had a fall whilst he was in hospital and developed sepsis, but she came home a week ago. Initially dad was very excited to have mum home but very quickly his mood and feelings changed and he’s become incredibly angry and resentful of mum - he’s spoken to my sister and I about considering divorce from mum. He’s always been on the grumpier side but at the moment he is just so difficult to be around and it’s really not what my mum needs as she also recovers.

We’re struggling a bit to work out how to navigate this one! It’s so tricky. It’s been mentioned that we could do a referral to liaison psychiatry for a bit more investigation and support but it feels like mentioning this to dad could make things far worse. Has anyone else been in a similar situation with personality/emotional changes and has any tips for how to deal with it?

1 Like

Hello @mandyhawgood91, sorry to hear your dad is having up and down mood swings. I imagine it is frustrating at times not knowing what’s going on inside a stroke survivors head. From my experience, I was on a plateau mood wise for a year before, suddenly, having a resentful and bitter outburst to extended family.

I had no idea where it came from, and I had to address it fairly quickly as I didn’t want my brain, while repairing, moulding itself to this way of feeling. Thankfully, it only happened once but I attended a nine week mindfulness session afterwards (online) as part of restraining any unwanted and obtrusive negative emotions.

Two things occurred with my injury (cerebellar stroke), lack of impulse control and lowered inhibitions. I find it has been useful not to get caught up in social or family politics, and I only surround myself with benign interests that keep my mind focussed on a) things that give me pleasure b) interests that I can allow my mind to indulge in and c) subject material that doesn’t require emotional processing. For instance, if there is a family drama going on, I stay out of it. I don’t share any opinion because I don’t want to say the wrong thing.

Mindfulness helps with this as it provides meditative solutions to everyday problems. It can also be adapted to any lifestyle. I also use the Stroke Association “Here for you service” which is having someone call once a week for a half hour chat for a period of eight weeks (you can also request a follow-up eight weeks as well). This service is operated by volunteers and fellow stroke survivors. It’s a way of letting off a bit of steam, and sometimes talking to a stranger is comforting as there is a different sort of empathy and fewer repercussions.

I guess, the main tip I would have is to encourage your dad to be involved with things that provide joy and distraction, and also to encourage him to connect with other survivors if there are groups that meet nearby. I am part of an online group that meets every Tuesday, and a face-to-face group that meets at the pub once a month. They also have outings like golf et cetera.

2 Likes

Hi @mandyhawgood91 firstly welcome to the community and sorry to hear your dad’s had a stroke and of your mum’s fall. You’ve got a lot going on at the moment.

Stroke can cause personality and emotional changes in the person, depending on whereabouts the brain is damaged results in different types of changes. A situation between mum and dad is a difficult one for children, of any age, to navigate.

Try speaking to the Stroke Association helpline or browsing their articles to see if they can offer any advice. Whilst you may think it’s hard to broach or be too early to follow up on the psychology referral, it sounds like a good option to explore.

Your dad’s brain is still recovering and it may be some of the emotional changes settle down a little with time. For me the change is emotional (I cry at the drop of a hat), anxiety and panic attacks are another issue I now experience (thalamic Stroke in Sep 2021).

I’m having counselling to try to cope with the emotional aftermath of the stroke.

Take care and best wishes

1 Like

Hi Mandy. Mood changes after stroke are quite common. After his own experiences he will have trouble processing information and get very frustrated. The fact that mum has been unwell will make him anxious and unsettled too. Hopefully, he will calm down and become more settled in himself. It might be worth you seeking advice from your gp about this.

1 Like