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Financial Concerns

 

Tip: For some of us, money is a big deal when someone has a stroke. Each state probably has their own unique rules, but in Florida, you can not receive disability or SSI, or any benefits until a person is completely disabled for 6 months. And that isn't even worrying about insurance and all the doctor bills. 6 months without income is tough for many of us who live week to week.

Medication is very expensive if your insurance doesn't cover it. My mom's meds were about $420 a month in the beginning. Right away, ask the doctors about prescription help. Go online and get the information and applications for patient assistance programs. Almost every prescription company has some sort of program and there are general programs that help. If you mention it, Doctors can also give you generic substitions, or samples etc. Apply for the prescription help as soon as possible -- it takes some time to go through -- and yes more paper work uugghhhh. But it will save you a lot of money.

Rehab Centers - there are nursing home types of rehabs and then there are Rehab Centers whose whole focus is rehabilitation. The nursing home type will help some if that is your only option, but if you can find a great rehab center - your stroke survivor will get rehab every day several hours a day. Don't settle for less than you have to. A 3 week stay at a rehab center can make a world of difference when you finally bring them home.

The deciding factor should be how many hours of rehab every day. A really great Rehab center will offer 4 ish (or more) hours of rehab a day. Maybe that sounds like a lot - but there are 3 kinds of rehab to split the time - so it really isn't much.

Speech Therapy of course deals with speech. But it is really communication therapy. they work with stroke survivor on ways to communicate.

Physical Therapy will work with stroke survivor on the big motor skils - walking, especially or using the wheel chair and keeping legs strong and mobile.

Occupational Therapy does a lot of different things. The primary objective is to help stroke survivor care for their daily needs - dress themselves, clean themselves etc. But they also do a lot of work with hand and arm movement.

A great Rehab will invite all the family or at least the caregiver to come to rehab sessions and learn with the stroke survivor. They will give you tools and suggestions for how to continue rehab at home and how to do what you need to do. (like helping with a bath etc)

Rehab Centers and Nursing home rehabs have scholarships sort of - they will accept a patient pro bono if you dont have insurance to cover it. Ask around, look online, write letters, make calls, etc. Have church or doctor or friends call on your behalf - Get your charge the best rehab you can. Even if they don't want to go.

Out-patient Rehab after the center stay is very helpful too - yes its more paperwork and a lot of hard work getting them there a few times a week - but its worth it. And most of them will take pro bono patients too - at least for a little while. If you can arrange for home visits from occupational or physical therapists - do it.

Doctors - If you don't have a regular doctor or your insurance runs out - there is always the local health department, but in Martin County, Florida - my area - they have Volunteers in Medicine and I'm sure they have clinics like that in every state - if not county. It is a clinic made up of Doctors and Nurses who volunteer their time - many of them retired. Yep, there was more paperwork. But they take patients based on income, and they have the contacts for any lab work or tests(like MRI), rehab and prescription help. So you don't have to deal with medical bills from 14 different places.

Visiting Home Nurse - Your doctor or clinic can refer you to a visiting nurse company - or find one. A nurse will come to your home to evaluate. Even if you can not afford regular home care - this evaluation can be very helpful. We didn't think we needed one - my mom was getting along just fine, but the clinic referred her so we met with her and she was great and gave us a few suggestions for daily care that really really helped us out. A little less expensive care is a visiting home care aide - or what ever they call it. A nurse's aid will come to visit, help with baths and medicine - they may even offer other services - check around - its worth it if you need it.

Suggestion - start to look for these things as soon as possible, ask around at the hospital and the social services people. Call your insurance company and find out what will and will not be covered. Look online, ask locals, etc. Many of these services take some time to happen and the paperwork is daunting to say the least - but its very important and helpful to have them in place when you bring your loved one home.

Also, don't be afraid to ask for help. Even just a little. If every one of your family sends you 10 or 20 bucks - that could buy food for the month or medicine for a month. If you need the financial help - its out there. People send flowers and cards to the hospital - $50 for a nice flower arrangement - or a few lunches at the hospital dinning area, or a down - payment on a wheel chair.

Equipment - put out the word that you need it and make a few calls - donations can come from many places. Churches, clinics, charities etc. often can donate a wheel chair or potty chair, or bed rails, or cane. Thrift stores are good too - you can buy bath chairs and potty chairs and canes for a couple of bucks.

My experience: Money was and is a big issue for us. My mom worked 2 jobs before she had her stroke. And I am a single mom going to grad school. My brothers were able to help that first year, and I have taken advantage of prescription help, but we still struggle. Volunteers in Medicine clinic was a life saver for us, but when her disability benefits finally kicked in, she made too much money for their services. So we are sitting in between everything right now. In Florida, (maybe every state) you can't get medicare until you are 65 or 2 years disabled. My mom is only 60. It's tough, but we will make it. The system is here to help, although sometimes it seems they make things more difficult. Just hang in there, try to get some help from family - things do get better.

Getting her into a Rehab Center was a struggle - We knew where we wanted her to go. The doctors and social services at the hospital helped us get her in pro bono, but we had to do quite a bit of foot work too. the hospital wanted to discharge her, but she was not mobile and needed much more care than we could give - we just weren't ready for her to come home yet in that condition. Finally the rehab center accepted her and she was moved up there. She was depressed and felt like she was stuck in a nursing home. The center was an hour drive, so we couldnt visit as often. But after a week or so, she was doing so well, and kept so busy, she forgot to be depressed. She had about 2 hours of rehab in the morning, and 2 or 3 hours in the afternoon. She split the time between speech, occupational, and physical therapy. This place was great. She made so much progress, the next time I visited, she was scooting around in her wheelchair to the different rehab rooms and the rec room/ dining room. And after a 3 week stay, she was ready to come home, and much more mobile - we could care for her with just a few modifications at home.

Rehab taught her how to dress herself one handed, brush her teeth etc.. and they had her walking with a cane short distances. The bath was really the only thing that was still difficult - and we got that down pat after a few tries. With a shower chair, and a mobile shower head - she is now able to take showers by herself in a small shower in the guest bathroom.

In Martin County

Volunteers in Medicine ..... 463-4128

Rehab Center - Health South in Vero Beach I don't have their number anymore - but they are the best in these parts.

 


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*professional in this case means one who works with stroke survivors,
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