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When to Consider Hospice for Stroke Patients

A stroke, also known as a cerebrovascular accident (CVA), can be a life-changing event for a patient and their family. Stroke recovery can often be challenging, and in some cases, the damage caused by a stroke can be so severe that the care focus shifts from rehabilitation to ensuring patient’s comfort and quality of life, which is where hospice comes into play. Here are some key factors to guide the important decision of hospice care for stroke patients. 

Signs to Consider Hospice for Stroke Patients

A stroke is what happens when blood flow to part of the brain is interrupted, causing oxygen deprivation to brain tissue. The ability to recover from a stroke depends on the severity of the stroke and how quickly you get medical attention. Below are some indicators that hospice care may be appropriate if recovery is not progressing: 

Severe neurological impairment

A stroke can cause significant brain damage, leading to cognitive and physical impairments, such as dementia, lack of cognitive ability and memory loss. 

Frequent hospitalizations

Hospitalizations due to stroke complications like infections, pneumonia, or heart failure may be indications that a patient’s condition is deteriorating. Hospice can help manage these symptoms at home, reducing the need for hospital visits. 

Difficulty with Basic Functions

When a stroke patient has difficulty with functions such as eating, drinking, and swallowing, it often leads to a decline in their health. Hospice care can provide nutritional support while managing these symptoms to ensure comfort. 

Inability to perform Activities of Daily Living (ADL)

If a patient can no longer perform ADLs like bathing, getting dressed, or using the bathroom, without assistance, it may be an indicator that it’s time for hospice care. This dependency can benefit from the comprehensive support that hospice provides. 

Hospice Benefit Qualifiers for Stroke Patients

To be eligible for hospice benefits, patients who’ve experienced a stroke must identify with the following qualifiers: 

  • Difficulty swallowing, preventing patient from being able to eat or drink 
  • Current history of aspiration 
  • Weight loss > 10% over the last 6 months 
  • Mainly chair or bed bound 
  • Dependent to meet care needs 
  • Incontinence of bowel and bladder 
  • Serum albumin level of 2.5 or less 
  • Stage 3 to 4 wounds 

Benefits of Hospice Care for Stroke Patients

Hospice care is designed to provide comprehensive care for individuals in the final stages of their life. Hospice focuses on comfort and quality of life rather than the treatment of an illness or condition, such as a stroke. Hospice can provide several benefits for individuals who have experienced a stroke and have a life expectancy of 6 months or less. Some benefits of hospice care for stroke patients include: 

  • Symptom management: Hospice care provides pain and symptom management for stroke symptoms including neurological difficulties and emotional effects. 
  • Emotional & spiritual support: In addition to medical care, hospice offers patients and their families emotional and spiritual support tailored to their needs and desires. This is essential in navigating the challenges of end-of-life care for all individuals involved. 
  • Specialized therapy: Our hospice care programs include specialized therapy programs including music therapy, aromatherapy, and pet therapy to ensure comfort and peace for hospice patients. 
  • Caregiver relief: Hospice care can offer caregivers and loved ones a much-needed break while ensuring the patient is still receiving high-quality care and support.  
  • Grief & bereavement services: Following the passing of a hospice care patient, families receive grief and bereavement services to deal with the loss of a loved one including grief support groups, memorial services, and children’s resources. 

Residential Hospice for Stroke Patients

Residential Hospice’s program for stroke patients, IMPRESS (Individualized Management for Pain Relief and Easing of Stroke Symptoms), addresses the multiple complex issues that can accompany stroke, including dysphasia, balance problems and weakness. This specialized hospice care program ensures hospice patients who have experienced a stroke receive comfortable care throughout their end-of-life journey. Residential Hospice offers at-home hospice care in Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.  

This blog is educational and informative, please consult with your medical doctor to learn more about hospice and if it is appropriate for your diagnosis.