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Recognizing and Preventing Strokes in Seniors

By Kurt Glaser

Recognizing and Preventing Strokes in Seniors

Did you know that stroke is now one of the leading causes of death in the US, coming in at number five? It’s estimated that nearly a million people will have a stroke this year. But here’s the good news: up to 80% of all strokes are preventable! The National Stroke Association and other agencies like it, have dedicated themselves to educating the public about how to recognize the symptoms of stroke, as well as how to prevent them. Scores of deaths could be prevented with this information.

Signs and Symptoms of a Stroke

With strokes, time is of the essence! 130,000 people will die every year from strokes, so it’s important to know the signs and how to treat it. If you recognize the signs and symptoms and get help immediately, most strokes can be reversed. This means that the current numbers do not need to be as high as they are!

The acronym F.A.S.T. has been adopted to help people identify the four most common stroke symptoms. If you or a loved one are having any of these symptoms, you need to seek medical intervention immediately! Here’s how the acronym F.A.S.T. breaks down:

1. F — Face Droop. It’s very common during a stroke for the person to experience one side of the face drooping or sagging, along with feeling numbness. Ask the person to smile. If they cannot smile equally on both sides of the face, that is a warning signal to get help.

2. A - Arm Weakness. Weakness in the arms is common with stroke. If the person cannot lift both arms in the air higher than the head, that is a big red flag that they could be having a stroke.

3. S — Speech Difficulty. Speech impairment if very common when a person is having a stroke. If there is difficulty speaking or they are not able to get their thoughts together all of the sudden, you should call 911 immediately!

4. T — Time. Survival of a stroke is largely dependent on time and how fast a person gets help. The odds of having a good outcome are greatly improved if you know the symptoms and act quickly.

Remember strokes are not a “wait and see” problem! If you suspect even a tiny sign of a stroke, you should get medical help immediately. It’s better to be safe than sorry! It’s never the wrong thing to do to either or call 911 or get to the emergency room right away. Even if a person has a stroke, the long-term damage can be greatly lessened if it’s dealt with quickly.

Preventing Strokes

While it’s critical to learn how to recognize the symptoms of a stroke, it’s even more important to prevent them altogether. Most strokes are totally preventable! Here are the things you can do to keep a stroke from happening in the first place.

Keep Blood Pressure Within Normal Ranges – High blood pressure causes heart disease, weight gain, and stroke. You should keep your blood pressure in check and take the steps necessary to lower it if it runs high. This can be done with diet, exercise, and medication.

Treat High Cholesterol - Similar to high blood pressure, cholesterol that’s too high can cause some of the same problems. Your arteries become blocked because of high cholesterol, and blocked arteries lead to stroke. Have your blood work checked often and get on the right medication to control your cholesterol if needed

Keep Blood Sugar in Check – High blood sugar causes a multitude of issues, including stroke. Have it checked often and ask your doctor to help you learn to check it on your own if it runs high at doctor visits.

Stay Active - For seniors, staying active keeps you healthy all around and keeps your mind occupied, oxygen flowing through your blood and good circulation.

Eat a Balanced Diet – Eating well contributes to good health! Your diet helps your immune system do its job, keeps you strong and healthy, helps you lose weight if needed, and allows your body to heal itself if problems do arise. Good nutrition goes a long way in preventing stroke as well.

Lose Weight if Needed – If you have high blood pressure, blood sugar or cholesterol, losing weight is the first thing you should do.

Quit Smoking – Easier said than done for most people, but if you are a smoker, you are greatly increasing your risk of stroke and heart attack! Please stop smoking if you do use cigarettes and do your homework about how smoking affects your health. If you have a senior loved one who smokes, you should educate them as much as possible and urge them to stop smoking. It very well could save their life!

The number one cause of disability among seniors in America is a stroke. Even those who survive a stroke are likely to have life-altering complications from it.

The most important thing you can do is live well and improve your health on all fronts! Each day you live healthier or help care for the senior loved one in your life by helping them live a healthier life, the greater your chances are of not ever having to suffer a stroke. Or to watch your loved one suffer a stroke.

Strokes are no joke! Get educated and take the steps necessary to keep your older adult as healthy as possible! Contact us today for more information on preventing strokes among seniors.

Home Helpers of Farmington Valley is a locally-owned, trusted home health care agency and offers quality, compassionate senior in-home care services including home care assistance, personal care, companion care, respite care, 24-hour live-in care, Alzheimer's & dementia care, Parkinson's care as well as homemaker services in AvonBloomfieldCantonCollinsvilleEast WindsorFarmingtonGranbyNew HartfordSimsburySouth WindsorWeatogueWest HartfordWindsor, and Windsor Locks, Connecticut.

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