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How do you handle a family member who blames everything on a stroke they had? They are often rude and hurtful, and blame it on their stroke.

19 Answers
Last Updated: 06/22/2020 at 11:16pm
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
Moderated by

Danielle Gonzales, PsyD


Hello! My name is Dani, I am a Psychologist and registered Psych Assistant. I have a passion for helping a different types of clients from all diverse backgrounds!

Top Rated Answers
May 13th, 2015 3:35am
Stroke survivors can often act in ways that they did not before. Their behaviors can make life hard for their loved ones and caretakers. It is not uncommon for stroke survivors to have a personality change or feel angry, anxious, depressed, and frustrated when they cannot express themselves verbally or physically. Thus lashing out at those around them. When a stroke survivor acts irrational, impatient, negative, hurtful, or exhibits child like behaviors/tantrums, lashing out at you either verbally or physically it can be devastating to the person on the receiving end. Being able to recognize that these behaviors are actually not about you is the first and most important step in finding your own relief from their hurtful behaviors. Try to remain supportive and positive, but also firm. Recognize their feelings by using statements that show that you understand, but that it isn’t acceptable; work together to manage the stroke victims emotions. Other technique’s that may help is positive reinforcement, soothing/calming techniques, and a possible support group for the survivor and for you. Most importantly make sure that you are practicing self-care, take time out for you.
April 28th, 2015 3:03pm
Well, it is first important to note that strokes can have negative effects on an individual and affect mental functioning. That being said this does not justify their behavior. There are a couple ways you can approach this, but the best way is to be calm and collected and to ask them questions on why they think it would be acceptable to say such things. Believe me, I know this is extremely hard in practice however it is important to try and maintain control. You'd be surprising the difference it makes if you stay levelheaded and let them become emotionally charged. If possible I would focus on asking questions like why they would say such a rude thing or asking them if they realize the effects their words have on you. For example, "Is there a reason you are saying these mean things? What are you hoping to accomplish? Calling me ugly/fat/worthless/useless/stupid, makes me feel really horrible and that does not help me work on aspects of myself and grow. Do you think in the future we can work on more positive ways of talking to each other?" I know that sounds sterile and ridiculous, but telling them how their words make you feel can really help a parent. You'd be surprised how much they don't know. If that doesn't work then you could also try to suggest they seek professional help because treating others wrongly is not something that should be ignored and professionals can help with a brain related issue if the stroke is the cause.
May 17th, 2015 3:38pm
Tell them that not everything is jusitified by the stroke they experienced. Just try to talk to this person and try to make them clear that this can't be the excuse for everything.
April 13th, 2015 3:39pm
Strokes are not easy to handle and the effects of them can last for years. It's not easy to deal with a family member who has one especially if it seems like they're blaming their hateful behaviour on their stroke. It may be best to try to understand their feelings even if you think they're wrong because they have suffered something huge.
January 19th, 2016 9:10am
Best way to sit with him in private and explain his mistakes. He might be in some mental pressure too, need to understand the reason behind his frustration and as a family we need to solve it. This will bring positive changes in him.
January 19th, 2016 1:01pm
Well, first try and sympathize with the individual. Put yourself in their shoes. It's a human reaction for them to be feeling this way since the stroke has affected them permanently in a way that requires time to come to acceptance and adaptation. You can also try and lend a listening ear or refer them to a therapist to speak to. Give them time, and until then try to help them to regain their independence and functionality after the stroke . At the same time, make sure that you don't let the hurtful words get to you. Never, blame yourself or feel that you have done anything to deserve such treatment. Don't lash out in anger, just have sympathetic conversations that help your family member to readjust to life and achieve a new normal :)
January 19th, 2016 4:49pm
Depersonalise comments and gestures that you know they don't mean or that aren't true. See through the words to the true issue at heart. Are they really just afraid? I would be if I had a stroke and was faced with the conundrum of not really knowing how sane I am nor what to do about regaining control of myself. Demonstrate unconditional love regardless of their actions and redirect or craft negativity into positivity. Let them know that you care about them and are available to them when they need you. They will find the answer to their issues without any instruction. If they do not, remember that you have a right to look after your own health. Keep your emotional safety in check, but remain as available as possible and resiliently positive.
February 1st, 2016 10:50pm
This person may have anger issues, as they may think "why me?" However, this can be conveyed as general anger and should not be taken personally.
March 1st, 2016 11:41pm
When someone go through a medical problem suddenly the whole world is their enemy. Every person like this can be dealt with empathy, patience and most of all your love and support.
March 28th, 2016 7:59pm
They might blame it on their strokes because maybe before they had it they still had their abilities and now they have a limited ability to do something.
September 13th, 2016 3:03am
Maybe that family member is rather frustrated because of the stroke and it does not stop that family member from changing.
January 16th, 2017 6:09pm
Empathy, try to see the view of the person. Our human brains are designed to protect one's self which may be a reason for their behavior. Sometimes it feels easier to blame something rather then take credit for something negative that has happened. We may not want to feel like we are the cause so we protect ourselves by using techniques such as blame.
September 11th, 2017 2:29pm
Be sympathetic and compassionate but do not enable this behavior. Be kind but firm and convey that they are responsible for their actions.
October 3rd, 2017 2:11am
At some point, we all must be accountable. In many cases, it is human to blame our skills on events that have happened to us in order to get others to enable us to stay in our comfort zone. There is a difference between helping and enabling. Perhaps, you may want to discuss this situation with other family members about your concerns and gain support.
February 6th, 2018 6:06pm
Sometimes that can actually be the case (biologically speaking) but if the behavior is obviously fake then you should tell them and also keep distanced as a consequence.
March 5th, 2018 11:33pm
They may feel worried that the stroke could happen again. some people translate their fear into anger. It is also important to take care of yourself, but be compassionate with how they feel and they will appreciate it. if its too much to bear, try to separate yourself from the situation by making plans with your friends, or try spending time excercising, or playing video games.
June 13th, 2018 12:01am
I would acknowledge and validate their pain while also expressing my own needs to be treated with respect. Relationships are given and take and by giving a little of my heart to help understand their experience, I would feel more empowered to ask for them to meet me half way to meet my needs as well.
December 4th, 2018 7:40am
You handle it by showing the person that the stoke was not your fault. And you show compassion to the person that has been going through a lot in his life. I would also take the time to listening to everything this person is saying as well to making sure that I have heard everything correctly and that way it makes sure that I have really covered all the bases here. Being patient with someone that is in a lot of pain is the best thing you can do for them. Compassion is what is the most important tool.
June 22nd, 2020 11:16pm
I think trying to explain that though we can't change events that happened to us, we can change how we respond to them and how we move forward. Letting them know where you are coming from and using "I statements" to let them know how you feel about the rude and hurtful behaviour. Also acknowledging that they are not their behaviour, so the rude and hurtful behaviour does not make them a rude and hurtful person-and letting them know this. It is important for you to be treated with respect and part of that is letting them know your needs, so that you both can move forward-understanding that the stroke can be a contributing factor, you are not looking to point the blame at them but are simply trying to find a way to make things work and to have your needs met.