2.5 million DKK to make the quality of life better for senior citizens

VELUX FONDEN supports a research project at Hammel Neurorehabilitation Centre and University Research Clinic with Aarhus Municipality and Hjernesagen on the quality of life for senior citizens after a blood clot or a brain hemorrhage. A mentoring scheme will provide a more personalised support for the patients.

When a person is struck by a blood clot or bleeding in the brain, it can be difficult to maintain the same active and social life as before the disease.

A new research project will to try to rectify this. The project "Stroke - 65 plus. Continued active life" involves collaboration between Hammel Neurorehabilitation Centre and University Research Clinic with Aarhus Municipality and Hjernesagen. The project focuses on the transition from hospital to home and examines the effects of a mentoring scheme for patients over 65 years with a blood clot or bleeding in the brain - also known as a stroke. The aim is to help both patients and their families to an active and meaningful life that fits exactly to their own desires, needs and resources.

VELUX FONDEN supports the project with 2.5 million DKK. The foundation supports scientific, cultural, social and environmental projects that seek to advance an informed, open, inclusive and sustainable society. The foundation’s priority areas are: active senior citizens, ophthalmology and gerontology.

Risk of loneliness and depression

Physiotherapist, Ph.d. and Head of Clinical Physiotherapy Research Hanne Pallesen from Hammel Neurorehabilitation Centre and University Research Clinic is leading the research project.

 Physiotherapist, Ph.d. and Head of Clinical Physiotherapy Research Hanne Pallesen at Hammel Neurorehabilitation Centre and University Research Clinic. Photo: Hospitalsenhed Midt

Many of the patients find it difficult to maintain the same active life as before when they come home from the hospital.

“The disease can cause motoric and cognitive difficulties that make it hard for example just to go out and shop. They may have lost their driver’s licenses, they may have difficulty walking and difficulty remembering and may lose orientation,” says Hanne Pallesen.

The disease can also be very hard for the patient´s close relatives and close family.

“The disease causes many patients to retire, which may cause a loss of most of their network. This leaves a void. It may be e.g. loss of network through a sport, as the patient can no longer participate. In addition the network may also have fear of contact with the disease and may therefore gradually avoid the stroke-affected,” says Hanne Pallesen.

The consequence is that many apoplexy patients in the long term are going to live a more stuffy and homebound life, which may lead to loneliness and depression. Hanne Pallesen has previously documented this in her PhD project "Five years after the stroke - from illness to disability".

A mentor provides personal support

Especially in the first period when the patient has returned home from hospital, it is important to make an extra effort to maintain the same active and meaningful life as before the disease.

The pillar of the project is a mentor program developed and evaluated by researchers where therapists from Aarhus are assigned to mentor the patients for up to nine months after they have been discharged from hospital. Mentorship is a more personalized offer than the existing offers and it is necessary.

 “Many of the existing offers are standardised. We know how to plan the training if for example the patient has a paralysed arm. However, when we talk quality of life at a general level, it is necessary to approach the subject in a more personal and sensitive way. What is the quality of life for the individual? It cannot be standardised. We are very involved in the private life of the patients and their families. A mentor can offer support - without having to take over,” says Hanne Pallesen.

 “The municipality of Aarhus is engaged in helping the senior citizens with their network and employ professionals who have extensive experience in the subject. Hjernesagen is in contact with a group of people who know firsthand how it feels like to be hit by a stroke. That is why they are two very important participants in the project,” says Hanne Pallesen.

“The project is also a good match to VELUX FONDEN. We have for two years now focused on supporting research on senior citizens and rehabilitation. Recently, with emphasis on projects where the patients have influence and become involved in their own rehabilitation. Furthermore, we aim to support patients who are cognitively affected by their disease, for example the patients hit by a stroke. What is special for the project “Stroke - 65 plus. Continued active lifestyle” is that it covers the involvement of the patients as well as their relatives,” says Executive Director Ane Hendriksen.  

Facts

- Apoplexy is another description for a blood cloth or bleeding to the brain.

- There are app. 12,500 cases of apoplexy in Denmark a year. The majority of the patients are over 65 years old.

Further information:
Hanne Pallesen, Physiotherapist, Ph.d. and Head of Clinical Physiotherapy Research Hanne Pallesen at Hammel Neurorehabilitation Centre and University Research Clinic, hannpall@rm.dk - direct phone: +45 7841 9058 or mobile: +45 2382 1365.