Stroke kills more than 130,000 Americans each year, accounting for 1 out of every 20 deaths, according to the CDC. In fact, someone in this country suffers from a stroke every 40 seconds, while someone dies in this country of a stroke every four minutes. In people over the age of 65, stroke reduces mobility in more than half of survivors in this age group. Stroke often times leads aging adults to hospice, either as a root cause or as the result of some other illness, or even taking place after being in hospice for awhile. Luckily, hospice providers can help you as the caregiver identify five important things to be aware of after a loved one has had a stroke.
In order to protect your loved one from the serious effects of stroke, it’s important to know the risk factors, reduce those factors, be on the lookout for signs of stroke, and know what to do if you see them, says the American Heart Association. In general, keep FAST in mind:
- Face drooping
- Arm weakness
- Speech Difficulty
- Time to call 911
There are many signs of stroke that your hospice nurse can help you identify after your loved one has suffered a stroke. The hallmark of each symptom is “sudden.” Many of the signs come on right away and cause immediate reactions. That should be your first clue.
1. Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech. Slurred speech is a big indicator of a stroke. If you are finding it difficult to understand what your loved one is saying, try this simple trick: ask them to repeat “The sky is blue.” Can they correctly repeat the words clearly? If not, get them medical attention right away. In addition, smiles can be affected. If your loved one tries to smile, but that smile is droopy on one side or they complain that their face is numb, this is a sign of stroke, according to the American Stroke Association.
2. Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg particularly on one side of the body. The nurse may ask the patient to raise both arms. If one arm drifts downward, this is a sign of stroke.
3. Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes. Ask your loved one to track your finger, or test them to determine if they can see far-away objects as well as close ones. Test both eyes. Sometimes stroke affects only one. Good news is, visual problems usually do improve over time as the brain recovers.
4. Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination. You may also notice these symptoms accompanied by vomiting, nausea, fever, hiccups or difficulty swallowing, points out WebMD. The nurse may ask her patient to walk in a straight line, if they are mobile. They may conduct some coordination tests as well to determine the level of their gross or fine motor skills. If your loved one feels faint, make sure you get them to lie or sit down immediately before they pass out. This feeling alone may not indicate stroke, but when paired with a few other of the above symptoms, it can.
5. Sudden severe headache with no known cause. If your loved one is prone to migraines, this alone may not indicate a stroke. That’s why further testing by the hospice doctor may be needed. Any sudden, severe headache accompanied by dizziness or vomiting is cause for concern. Your hospice care nurse who spends a lot of time with your loved one will notice these rapid dips in appetite and nausea.
Your loved one’s hospice care team can discuss with you warning signs of stroke, as well as next steps. The hospice care team can provide anything from pain management to comfort care associated with the stroke. Rest assured, we have pharmacists on staff to assess patient medications and minimize the risks of side effects or medication interactions. Fast action, usually within three hours of the first symptoms, can improve the odds of recovering fully after a stroke, reducing the severity of disabilities that can arise from the stroke as well.
Contact Pathways Home Health Hospice
If your loved one requires hospice care, you need a caring, compassionate professional organization that can meet the needs of the patient as well as the family. Pathways Home Health Hospice has experienced staff here who know the warning signs of stroke. Learn about our stroke recovery services as part of our home health services, or find out how our qualified hospice team can provide care for your loved one who may have already suffered a stroke and needs end of life care. We invite you to contact us today at 888-755-7855.