Palliative care is patient- and family-centered care that can help improve quality of life by providing relief from symptoms, stress and suffering. Palliative care is appropriate for patients in any stage of a serious illness and in any care setting. It considers the physical, emotional, intellectual, social and spiritual needs.
People recovering from a stroke should have a well-coordinated medical team to personalize their care, optimize their quality of life and focus on what is most important to the patient and family. For a stroke patient and their family, palliative care supports collaboration between patients, families, a stroke team and various providers, including neurologists, neurosurgeons, primary care providers, nurses and therapists.
As a stroke survivor or family member, you should expect your healthcare provider to:
- Talk about your preferences, needs and values as a guide to medical decisions.
- Discuss which aspects of recovery are most important to you.
- Have effective, sensitive discussions about your prognosis, how to deal with physical or mental losses from a stroke, and if necessary, end of life planning, among other serious topics.
- Guide you through choices about life-sustaining treatment options. Providers should address pros and cons of CPR, ventilators, feeding tubes, surgery, do-not-resuscitate orders, do-not-intubate orders and natural feeding.
- Know the best treatment options for common post-stroke symptoms and quality of life, including pain, other physical symptoms and psychological problems like depression and anxiety.
- Engage a palliative care specialist if complex issues arise.
- Engage a palliative care specialist before complex issues arise.