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Stroke care for the elderly
July 22, 2023

Watching your loved one recover from a stroke can be difficult. When an elderly loved one suffers a stroke, their rehabilitation can be lengthy and, often, unpredictable.

There are many ways you can support your loved ones through their recovery, including making modifications to their home, encouraging daily exercises, and empowering independent movement. You might also consider a live-in carer to promote exercise and independence while knowing your loved one is being looked after.

We’ve put together this guide to walk you through what a stroke is, the warning signs of a stroke, and providing stroke care.

What is a stroke?

In the UK, someone experiences a stroke approximately every five minutes. According to the Stroke Association, there are 1.2 million stroke survivors in the UK and around 100,000 strokes each year. The right care is essential for recovery and rehabilitation.

A stroke happens when blood either stops flowing to a part of the brain or, instead, floods it. This starves the brain of oxygen which is fundamental to it.

The lack of oxygen and nutrients starts to kill brain cells leading to a wide range of serious implications.

There are two types of strokes. An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel supplying the brain becomes blocked by a blood clot. A haemorrhagic stroke happens when a blood vessel bursts and leaks blood into the brain.

Warning signs of a stroke

The immediate symptoms of a stroke are commonly associated with the acronym ‘FAST’. This means:

Face: you might see drooping on one side of the face. This includes drooping of the eye and/or mouth.

Arms: your loved one might suffer weakness in their arms, particularly on one side. They might not be able to lift their arm properly.

Speech: your loved one’s speech might become slurred or hard to understand. In some cases, they might not be able to speak at all.

Time: time is critical when it comes to combating a stroke. If treatment is delivered quickly, treatment can be more effective. Call 999 as soon as you notice any of these symptoms.

Other warning signs provided by the NHS include:

  • Paralysis of one side of the body
  • Lost or blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty understanding people
  • Confusion
  • Lack of balance and coordination
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Sudden, severe headache
  • Loss of consciousness

Once your loved one is at the hospital, they will be given a brain scan to determine the type of stroke and the severity of their stroke.

What effective stroke care is important?

Stroke care can involve various medications. For example, to destroy blood clots, treat high blood pressure, and treat high cholesterol.

In severe cases, surgery might be required to remove a blood clot or reduce swelling in the brain.

Strokes can have a significant, long-term impact. Stroke care is dependent on the severity of the stroke. Some people need short-term care to relearn basic skills such as speech and movement. Independence might be fully regained while some people might require home care for the rest of their lives.

Stroke care for the elderly can be difficult. It’s likely your loved one will want to return to their own home as quickly as possible.

However, depending on how their brain was affected, they may have distressing symptoms to cope with for some time. Therefore, it can be hard to know how to care for a stroke patient at home.

Each stroke is different. Meaning, each stroke care plan needs to be appropriate for the person’s recovery.

Live-in stroke care

If your loved one has suffered a stroke, they will likely have complex needs when they return home. These needs might be beyond the scope of what you can do as a family member. For example, if your loved one is struggling with speech or mobility. They might need help sitting up, getting dressed, bathing, going to the toilet, and other aspects of personal care.

This is where a live-in care service, such as Mumby’s, can help. Mumby’s can help provide post-stroke care for the elderly at home. In the long-term, a dedicated live-in carer could offer a welcomed comfort to you and your loved one. The stroke care team will be knowledgeable in all aspects of post-stroke care and can support recovery and rehabilitation.

Live-in care takes the pressure of care away from family members who may not have the knowledge and skills needed to provide round-the-clock support. The stroke carer can liaise with other therapists involved in your loved one’s treatment, such as physiotherapists and language therapists. They can make sure that daily exercises are carried out as well as prompting your loved one to take medications as prescribed.

Effective stroke care in the hospital and at home can prevent long-term disability and save lives.

Do you have to pay for care after a stroke?

After a stroke, your loved one might need support from a stroke care team 24 hours a day.

Intermediate care is free for a maximum of six weeks. Most people receive this care for around one or two weeks. Soon after you leave the hospital, social services will check if your care plan is right. If you’re likely to need care for longer than six weeks, they’ll work with you to put a care plan in place. This care isn’t free.

Thousands of people across the UK need to receive ongoing care due to disabilities, accidents, or illnesses. For those who are eligible, you can apply for NHS Continuing Healthcare (CHC). However, it’s not as simple as it sounds. It might be helpful to know these facts when it comes to NHS Continuing Healthcare (CHC):

  • It’s not judged on someone’s diagnosis. Eligibility is determined by someone’s day-to-day care needs and how they should be met.
  • Eligibility is not for life. NHS CHC is based on care needs and it is common for these needs to change over time. Needs are typically reviewed three months after the original decision was made, and each year thereafter.
  • It doesn’t cover everything. If you’re in your own home, NHS CHC does not cover things like rent, mortgage, food, or usual utility bills.

The simple answer is that the diagnosis of any medical condition, including having a stroke, is not enough for NHS continuing healthcare funding to be awarded.

You can find out more about NHS continuing healthcare on their website.

What happens if I’m not eligible for NHS CHC?

If it’s decided that you’re ineligible for NHS CHC, these are the steps you can take:

  • You can appeal the decision and ask them to reconsider your case.
  • You can request to be referred to your local authority, who can carry out a needs assessment to see what care and support you need. If the assessment identifies you need help, you will have a financial assessment (means test) to see if the council will pay towards it. Your home is not be included in the means test if you receive care and support at home.
  • Even if you are ineligible for NHS CHC, you may be assessed as requiring nursing care in a care home. You then qualify for NHS-funded nursing care, which means they will contribute to some of the costs.

Local authority funding for stroke care

If your relative is not eligible for funding for stroke care, they will be entitled to a number of benefits that will help towards overall costs. These include:

  • Attendance Allowance (AA): a benefit paid by the UK government to people of state pension age or older who are physically and/or mentally disabled.
  • Disability Premium: a benefit paid by the UK government to people under state pension age who are physically and/or mentally disabled. You must be receiving another benefit, such as Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance, and/or Armed Forces Independence Payment.
  • Carers allowance: an amount paid by the UK government to the carer of someone who receives other benefits, such as Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance, and/or Armed Forces Independence Payment.
  • Your relative may also be entitled to reductions in council tax, help with heating and insulation, and help with repairs and improvements to their home.

Your loved one is not be entitled to funding for stroke care if:

  • they have savings worth more than £23,250
  • they own their own property (this only applies if they’re moving to a care home)

Self-funding stroke care

You can:

  • arrange and pay for care yourself without involving the council
  • ask the council to arrange and pay for your care (the council will then bill you. But not all councils offer this service and they may charge a fee if they do).

Even if you choose to self-fund your stroke care, your council can do an assessment to check what care you might need. This is called a needs assessment.

Signs of stroke recovery

While rehabilitation is underway, it’s important to keep a track of your loved one’s progress. This can help you notice and celebrate the signs of recovery. Here are four of the most common signs of recovery from a stroke.

  1. Increased independence: signs include being more independent with the activities of daily living (dressing, bathing, going to the bathroom, etc.).
  2. Cross legs: being able to cross your legs within the first 15 days of having a stroke is found to be a good sign of recovery.
  3. Feeling sleepy: feeling tired after a stroke is common. Sleeping gives the brain time to recover. As the brain is recovering after a stroke, your loved one might get physically or mentally tired easily. This could be a good sign of recovery. It could mean that the brain is working hard and needs rest to recuperate.
  4. Muscle twitching: muscle twitching can signify that spasticity (involving stiff, tight muscles) is improving. However, it’s important to talk to your therapist if/when this happens. Sometimes muscle twitches could actually be a sign of other post-stroke complications like tremors.

How long does it take to recover from a severe stroke?

Some people who have had a stroke recover quickly and can regain normal function of their body after just a few days. For other people, recovery may take six months or longer.  No matter how long it takes you to recover from your stroke, recovery is a process. Remaining optimistic can help you cope. Celebrate any and all progress you make. Talking to a therapist can help you work through your recovery, too.

The outlook depends on the severity of the stroke and how quickly medical care is received.

What rehabilitation is needed after a stroke?

For most stroke patients, rehabilitation mainly involves physiotherapy. The aim of physiotherapy is to have your loved one relearn simple motor activities such as walking, sitting, standing, lying down, and the process of switching from one type of movement to another.

Another type of therapy to help relearn daily activities is occupational therapy. This type of therapy also involves exercise and training. The goal is to help your loved one relearn everyday activities such as eating, drinking and swallowing, dressing, bathing, cooking, reading and writing, and using the toilet. Occupational therapists seek to help the patient become independent or semi-independent.

Speech therapy helps stroke patients relearn language and speaking skills, or learn other forms of communication. Speech therapy is appropriate for patients who have no problems with cognition or thinking, but have problems understanding speech or written words, or problems forming speech. With time and patience, a stroke survivor should be able to regain some, and sometimes all, language and speaking abilities.

How long is rehabilitation after a stroke?

The rate of recovery is generally greatest in the weeks and months after a stroke. However, there is evidence that performance can improve even 12 to 18 months after a stroke.

Post-operative stroke care at home

Here at Mumby’s, we know that live-in care for stroke recovery has far-reaching value for your loved one’s quality of life and rehabilitation following a stroke. Our fully-managed and outstanding CQC rated service provides high-quality stroke care in the safety and familiarity of your loved one’s own home. We work closely with the family and all healthcare professionals to develop a stroke care plan that suits your loved one’s needs.

A well-matched, flexible and trained one-to-one live-in carer from Mumby’s will offer motivational, emotional and compassionate support to help your loved one on their road to stroke recovery.

They can sensitively offer assistance with:

  • mobility such as getting around the home or venturing outside for trips or other social activities
  • personal care for swallowing and continence problems if your loved one has a weakness along one side
  • daily chores that may have become challenging due to cognitive problems
  • talking and encouraging conversation to help recover speech
  • psychological problems such as mood changes, anxiety and frustration

Mumby’s offers peace of mind that your loved one is safe and professionally supported whilst continuing to live in their own homes.

Mumby’s outstanding stroke care at home

In some situations, you and your loved one may need additional support from trained carers. This may be short-term or for a longer period.

Here at Mumby’s, we offer fully managed and outstanding after stroke care in the safety and familiarity of your loved one’s own home. We work closely with the family and healthcare professionals to develop a stroke care plan that suits your loved one’s needs.

Mumby’s one to one live-in carers understand and are experienced in stroke recovery. They can offer mild stroke care for a short time or long-term stroke care after a more severe stroke. A live-in carer can offer the support you and your loved one needs so that they can concentrate on their stroke recovery and you have peace of mind.

If you would like more information on what live-in care can offer you and your loved one, call our expert team free today on 01865 391187 for a friendly, no-obligation chat.