New Online Support Network
The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association has created an online community called the Support Network. The goal is to connect people living with stroke and heart disease with others who are going through similar journeys.
Because we recognize how important social support is to those recovering from stroke and heart disease, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association has created an online community called the Support Network. The goal is to connect people living with stroke and heart disease with others who are going through similar journeys.
Larry Sadwin is a past chairman of the board of the American Heart Association and volunteer with the Support Network. He is also a survivor of heart disease and his stepfather had a stroke. “After my stepfather’s stroke, it would have been so helpful for my family to be able to find reliable information, and to read the experiences of other families, to share the tough stuff as well as the ‘helpful hints’ that make an extremely difficult situation a little easier,” said Sadwin. “That is what the Support Network does; it is a place where families can communicate 24/7 with experts and other families going through the same challenges that they are. The Support Network offers hints, help and hope … and the world class information this organization is known for. The Support Network gives the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association the bandwidth to touch so many more people who need our emotional support.” Here’s how it works:
Join the network. There’s no cost. Once you’ve joined, click on “STROKE” in the options under the banner image at the top of the page.
The ‘Recent Conversations’ page lets you scan the topics. If one interests you, read the posts and add your thoughts and feelings.
If you don’t find a topic that interests you, click ‘Start a Conversation’ and introduce a topic that interests you. Come back often and read the responses of other members.
Further down that page, you can also join specific stroke conversation groups. There are groups for survivors with aphasia, for their caregivers, for survivors under 50 and for pediatric stroke families. If none of the established groups is a good fit, you can start your own group. It can be public (anyone can join), or you can set up a private group and invite who you want. Within a group, you can start a conversation, reply to an ongoing conversation, share videos or resources that might be of interest, or invite new members to the group.
This monitored online community offers survivors, caregivers and family members a place to ask questions, share concerns or fears, provide helpful tips, and find encouragement and inspiration. Two association staffers moderate the conversations and respond to questions, add content and spark discussions.
You can get tips and sage advice about starting and growing an in-person stroke support group. (For more on this topic, read “Thoughts of a Veteran Support Group Leader”)
Teams in three cities — Nashville, Tennessee; Phoenix, Arizona; and St. Louis, Missouri — are piloting more extensive activities within the online support platform. They are working with local partners to promote the online community and establish face-to-face community-based support groups. They’ll also identify and work with local volunteers who can serve in a variety of leadership roles in the community and online networks.
“Support from friends, family and others can help you deal with your feelings of depression, isolation and being overwhelmed,” said clinical psychologist Barry J. Jacobs, Psy.D. “The Support Network offers a place for people to find and share emotional support from others going through similar journeys. Sharing stories, experiences and practical advice can make a positive impact in how we face these challenges. Who can offer better perspective on what lies ahead after a stroke than someone who’s been there?”