Twenty-five years ago, Bill and his wife and their six children had gone to have dinner with Grandpa at his home. Seated around the kitchen table, they all enjoyed the Kentucky Fried Chicken, mashed potatoes, cole slaw, biscuits, and gravy. The room was filled with chatter and laughter. Then suddenly, something radically changed. Grandpa seemed confused. He was having trouble understanding what others were saying. It was as if he could not hear.

No one in the room recognized this as a stroke. No one knew that sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding, sudden difficulty walking, or loss of balance and coordination were all signs of a stroke. No one knew the importance of getting the stroke victim to a hospital immediately. They only knew that one minute Grandpa was fine, and at the next minute things had radically changed.

It was obvious that Grandpa could not stay in the house by himself. If he could not hear, he would not be able to talk on the telephone. He could not use the phone to call for help in an emergency. He would not be able to hear the doorbell ringing. He would not be able to speak with someone who came to the door.

The dilemma that families in this situation face is immense. Immediate family members may work or have young children at home. Some immediate family members may live hundreds or thousands of miles away. Placing the stroke victim in a nursing home is a very expensive option. The stroke victim’s family and the stroke victim himself often would prefer that the individual be able to continue to stay in his own home.

What services are available to help a stroke victim recover? Rehabilitative therapy usually begins in the hospital, often within 24 to 48 hours. When a patient is ready to be discharged, a hospital social worker will help develop a plan for continuing rehabilitation and care.

Some patients go to a skilled nursing facility when they are discharged. Others go to a setting specializing in rehabilitative therapy. Others return home directly.

Piecing together care in the home can be difficult. Family members and retired nurses and individual Certified Nursing Assistants may be able to cover the shifts, but it is a challenge to find them on your own. In addition, what happens if someone is sick or on vacation? Who takes care of paying the employees? Using an agency such as American Home Health definitely has its advantages.

Agencies such as American Home Health can provide round-the-clock nursing care by Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), or Registered Nurses (RNs). American Home Health is licensed by the State of Illinois and accredited by the Joint Commission. Our service area covers fifteen counties in Northern Illinois including Cook, Lake, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Grundy, Will, and Kankakee.

For further information, go to, or call (630) 236-3501.

—By Karen Centowski