Every stroke is different and everyone’s experience with the disease is different. If a family member is seriously ill after a stroke, you don’t have to face the challenges of care alone. Palliative care, or hospice for some people, provides an experienced team who will listen to your needs and offer personalized support.
“After my mom’s stroke, I needed to understand what our future might look like,” said Kim Barnett, who was caring for her mother. "The palliative care social worker helped us find enough assistance to handle my mom’s symptoms at home and she later helped us shift to hospice. As a family, we had an important month together before mom passed.”
Contact your doctor for a palliative or hospice care referral. Providers work together with you and your doctor to align care with your goals and values. While every family has unique needs, support can include:
- Managing symptoms including paralysis, balance, pain, difficulties with speech, swallowing, bowel control and agitation or anxiety
- Physical therapy, occupational therapy and dietary counseling
- Home medical equipment and supplies such as a hospital bed, wheelchair, incontinence pads
- Practical, emotional and spiritual support
- Family caregiver education, training and respite care
- Help with transitions and advance care planning
Hospice or palliative care for stroke have many similarities. Hospice is end-of-life for people with a life expectancy of six months or less. Palliative care is for people at any stage of illness and can be provided with curative treatments for stroke. People may end their hospice or palliative care an any time.
Hospice care is covered by Medicare, the VA, Medicaid and most private insurance plans. If someone is not eligible for hospice, palliative care consultations are typically covered 100 percent by Medicare and private insurance. If families have concerns about expenses not covered by insurance, social workers can help with financial planning and financial assistance.
The first step in receiving care is a referral from a doctor. We know life after stroke can be uncertain. Even if a family member is not ready for comfort care, understanding your options can prevent stressful, last-minute decisions later.
If a patient meets the criteria for stroke care, they and their family receive support from registered nurses, home aides, social workers, chaplains and volunteers. The comfort care team offers care in your home, a nursing facility or a hospital. Signals that person may need palliative care or hospice care include:
- Mainly bed-bound or chair bound
- Requires almost constant help with self-care
- Weight loss during previous six months due to difficultly eating or drinking sufficiently
- Health complications including recurrent infections
- Palliative Performance Scale (PDF, 120 KB) or Karnofsky Score (PDF, 65 KB) of 40 percent or less
Our goal is to offer relief by managing symptoms, improving quality of life and reducing anxiety and worry after a stroke. Call us at 833-380-9583 to request a no-obligation evaluation or to learn about options for care.