Making decisions about end-of-life care is difficult for stroke victims. The ever-changing roller-coaster of emotions and feelings of uncertainty, as well as the complexity of care and support options available, makes it challenging to choose the best course of action for you and your family.
A stroke is a sudden interruption in blood supply to the brain. The disruption in blood supply could be caused by an occlusion (clot/blockage) in the arteries that supply blood to the brain or from bleeding directly within the brain. The residual effects from a stroke depend on a variety of factors, including the location of the brain affected and severity of damage to surrounding brain tissue.
If you are reading the information on this web page, chances are you, or someone you love, is battling the physical and neurological effects caused by a stroke. Your search for answers to important questions about care and support for your loved one becomes even more difficult as the condition progresses. Alliance Hospice recognizes the emotional toll and immense courage it takes to help a loved one who is suffering from the effects of a stroke.
The good news is that quality hospice care and palliative care services are widely available for stroke patients and offer comprehensive symptom management along with end-of-life care that stroke patients and their families need.
When is it time to discuss hospice care for a stroke patient?
Stroke is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Because of this prevalence, the need for adequate hospice care for stroke victims is essential. Determining whether hospice care is appropriate for someone following a stroke will depend on the severity of the effects.
Hospice care for stroke victims focuses on symptom management and patient comfort and is often described as an approach that treats the patient, not the disease. Because a stroke involves the brain and central nervous system (CNS) it can affect many other body systems also. The resulting symptoms that may require medical treatment can be extremely diverse. Immobility and other related conditions may cause pain as can involuntary muscle contractions or spasms related to neurological damage. Aspiration pneumonia can lead to shortness of breath and advanced pulmonary issues. Dysphagia, or trouble swallowing, can lead to malnutrition, GI symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting or constipation can be caused by a number of factors including medications and eating. Dermatological issues like sores on the skin caused by immobility (bed sores) can be uncomfortable, painful and a potential cause for infection. Additionally, anxiety, restlessness and depression can result from damage to areas of the brain or from the condition itself.
At Alliance Hospice we recognize the courage it takes to help a loved one who is suffering from a chronic condition like stroke. We also understand the physical and emotional stress it places on you to care for this loved one. Accessing hospice care as soon as it becomes appropriate will ensure that symptoms are managed properly and ensure that you are best prepared for what lies ahead.
Victims of Stroke can experience a slow to very rapid decline in health that will depend on a variety of factors, including the type of stroke, location of the brain affected and severity of damage to surrounding brain tissue. It can be difficult to determine when the time is right for hospice care because of this uncertain progression. A clinical determination of a Stroke patient’s life expectancy can only be made by a doctor. However, the following is a list signs that the symptoms have progressed and that the patient and their loved ones would both benefit from the services offered by hospice care.