I recently visited a local assisted living facility to see my little lady with dementia, when I met her male friend, Thomas. It was apparent her dementia had progressed, because she didn’t recognize me at first, and I was informed her condition had worsened after Thomas suffered a stroke.
Thomas has been a Godsend to my little lady, keeping an eye on her and helping her as much as possible, considering he is a resident himself. I asked him about the night he had the stroke. He said he had no noticeable symptoms until he awakened in the middle of the night and tried to get out of bed to go to the restroom and discovered he couldn’t move. Thomas called out for help from a nurse on duty, who immediately called 911. After an ER examination, the doctor diagnosed the event as a mini-stroke.
Thomas told me he had not recognized any symptoms prior to going to bed that night, or since. He just woke up and couldn’t move. He is a very lucky fellow in that his stroke was not debilitating.
Statistics show as many as 800,000 people suffer a stroke every year, and stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in America, with one person dying as a result every four minutes. Although anyone at any age can experience a stroke, seniors suffer strokes most frequently.
What is a stroke?
A stroke occurs when blood vessels carrying oxygen to the brain burst or become blocked. When oxygen is unable to reach the brain, cells die, which can cause permanent damage.
Senior Living states, “Strokes are a medical emergency that occur when the blood supply is somehow interrupted to the brain. Elderly people who suffer from poor sleep patterns, and who wake frequently, are especially susceptible to developing hardened blood vessels that can impair the movement of blood to the brain.”
What are symptoms of stroke?
Thomas didn’t experience any symptoms before his mini-stroke occurred in the middle of the night, but there are certain warning signs of stroke outlined in HealthDay News about which to be aware:
- Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
- Sudden vision problems in one or both eyes
- Sudden difficulty walking, dizziness, loss of balance or lack of coordination
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
What can you do to prevent stroke?
You don’t have to make excessive lifestyle adjustments to reduce your risk for stroke. These four factors should be relatively easy to apply in your life:
- Reduce sodium intake, lower blood pressure
- Stop drinking diet sodas, or limit intake to one or two/week
- Limit fatty foods in diet, especially those containing trans fat
- Exercise for 30 minutes multiple days each week
What do you do if stroke is suspected?
According to the National Stroke Association, for every minute a stroke sufferer’s brain does not receive proper blood flow, two million neurons are negatively affected. The more neurons that are lost determines the overall impact on speech, movement, memory, and life.
Anyone, at practically any age, can suffer a stroke. However, it is most common in seniors. If you ever find yourself in the presence of someone you think is having a stroke, a simple test recommended by the National Stroke Foundation called Act FAST can help you recognize the signs:
Face – Ask the person to smile. Does one side appear droopy or unresponsive?
Arms – Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one tend to angle downward?
Speech – Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?
Time – If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately!
Please remember this Act FAST test if someone you know and love appears to be having a stroke. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of FAST action when stroke is suspected!
If a special senior someone you love has suffered a stroke, no matter what kind or to what degree, our compassionate caregivers are available 24/7/365 to help with transportation assistance, light housework, personal care, meal preparation, companion care, and so much more. I am happy to offer a FREE Consultation to assess your needs and/or those of your loved one.
We, at Home Helpers® Clearwater, are honored to have received the Home Care Pulse – Best of Home Care® Provider of Choice Award for 2017, 2018 & 2019. We proudly serve male and female seniors in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Holiday, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, Hudson and surrounding areas. Home Helpers®…we are Making Life Easier℠ 727.942.2539