Mom had a stroke in 2006. Her stroke did not affect her left...

3 answers | Last updated: Apr 22, 2011
A fellow caregiver asked...

Mom had a stroke in 2006. Her stroke did not affect her left side, it was more in the front center of the brain. Reasoning, learning, remembering, any recall plus balance gone! She was in a nursing home in PA. Dad died in 2007, I live in Colorado. I moved mom to our home in CO and cared for her for ten months. It was truly a 38 hour day. I put her in a nursing home in January 2008. I visited daily, she seemed to be degrading, and she continued to insist on going home. Suddenly, now she seems to be recovering. She said she has lost so much time. Her speech is getting slightly better each day, she is getting physical therapy again. She is standing 90% better. She insists she will be walking soon. She is practicing memory retention on her own plus she is "counting" again. I have several questions: Am I getting too hopeful? Is there a chance she could recover to a point where I could bring her to live with us again? Do you have stats on recovery?

Mom is on Medicaid and Medicare, and she has very little funds. Could I continue to get some help financially?

Any information would be wonderful.

Expert Answers

James Castle, M.D. is a neurologist at NorthShore University HealthSystem (affiliated with The University of Chicago) and an expert on strokes.

I do not think you are being overly hopeful. Although I have not personally heard of someone recovering from stroke symptoms more than 2 years after their stroke, there is no inherent reason why she couldn't continue to have some improvement after 2 years.

What might also be happening here is that she is simply in a better frame of mind. I continue to hear "Lazarus" stories of people who move into a skilled nursing facility and thrive there. There is a misconception that putting someone in one of these places is sentencing the person to death - that they will be neglected and abandoned. This is often not true at all. Often, elderly patients of mine will thrive in these environments, because they are surrounded by people of their own age who they can talk to and relate with, and all of their meals and medicines are taken care of for them. One time, I had a patient who was told that he was going to pass away of prostate cancer within 6 months. He went to a skilled nursing facility and 18 months later was alive and feeling great - never better, he told me! The bottom line is that I would not underestimate the power of having substantial support - both with friends and caretakers.

As far as moving her back to your home is concerned, I would only do so if you thought it was truly in her best interest. I would not rock the boat on her recovery unless she really wants to move.

Finally, with regard to the financial issues, I, unfortunately, do not know the answer. In many ways, the finances of medicine and the practice of medicine are parrallel universes - and I try to stay out of the finance issues. If you want help with those issues, I would contact a social worker or case manager either at the skilled nursing facility, or through your mother's doctor. They may be able to help in ways that you hadn't thought of before.

Community Answers

Ca-claire answered...

I agree with Dr. Castle - not only is every stroke different, there is just not enough knowledge or understanding about the capabilities of the brain in healing itself. Maybe not healing itself, but working out alternate pathways to 'relearn' tasks. It's wonderful that your mother is improving - it may be the environment. Moving her into your home can remove some of the stimulation of being in a group environment, and would be difficult to replicate at home. Also, if she has memory difficulties, it may be possible that if you moved her home, she may not remember being away - happened to a relative of mine. It may just be a question that she is 'stuck' repeating. Does she remember all that she did yesterday or last week? Think of these things before you take on the monumental task of home care. Karen

Racerchix answered...

I'm not sure if your state has a program comparable to ours but in NY we have a program called "THE NURSING HOME TRANSITION AND DIVERSION PROGRAM" This is a waiver program that helps to keep a participant at home or bring them home from a nursing home with the supports needed to make it safe. I am a Service Coordinator in this waiver program and have seen first hand how well it works. Good Luck!!