Community Blog

Helping Your Parent Prevent a Stroke

By Denise Roskamp

According to the American Stroke Association, 80 percent of strokes are preventable. That is an amazing number and one that should give families of aging parents hope. There are definitive steps you can help your parent take that may not ensure, but will definitely increase, their chances of making it through their later years without experiencing the debilitating effects of a stroke.

Diet

Like so many diseases, diet plays an enormous role in minimizing the risks of having a stroke. You will want to adapt it according to any diseases your parent may have, such as diabetes, but the diet to prevent a stroke is basically the same diet to promote overall health and well-being. They will want to steer clear of the saturated fats found in high-fat content animal meats and include a lot of fruits and vegetables. In addition, help them decrease their intake of Trans fats found in packaged foods. Look at labels for ingredients such as hydrogenated vegetable oils and steer clear. Fish, particularly salmon, is particularly brain-healthy as well as nuts, seeds and avocados.

Exercise

Once again, this isn’t a surprise. The American Heart Association’s recommendations for lowering blood pressure and cholesterol are as follows: An average of 40 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity 3 or 4 times per week and muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 days per week. This, along with a balanced diet, will in turn lead to weight loss—an important ingredient to minimizing the chances of suffering from a stroke.

Keep an Eye on Risk Factors

High blood pressure, high blood sugar and high cholesterol levels put your parent at an increased risk for a stroke. Keep an eye on these levels and ensure they are in the specified range. All of these diseases affect the arteries which can impact those in the brain as well as the rest of the body. If your parent is doing everything right in the diet and exercise department and their numbers are still too high—be sure to contact their primary health care provider. In some instances, medication is in order.

Smoking and excess intake of alcohol are both risk factors that play a big role in your parent’s overall health. If they need help, consider visiting smokefree.gov to learn more about tips and tools that can help them succeed.

Sleep

Even people who have obtained their correct weight level experience an increased risk of strokes when they are not sleeping enough. Enough varies according to individual needs. It is generally agreed upon that getting seven to eight hours of shut-eye a night is considered sufficient for the human body to fully function. A study conducted on 5,000 middle-aged and older people at the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that “normal weight people who slept less than six hours a night had an increased risk of stroke symptoms.”

Senior Care Provider

As a family caregiver, ensuring your loved one eats a healthy diet, exercises and limits the other risk factors in their life, can be somewhat frustrating, depending on your parent’s desire to change. A senior care provide can gently nudge your parent in the right direction by accompanying them on daily walks and providing transportation to the local senor community center for group exercise activities. They can also go grocery shopping, prepare healthy meals and share them with your parent. After all, camaraderie and companionship are an important component of helping your loved one stay encouraged as they incorporate the lifestyle changes that promote health.

Resources
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/American-Heart-Association-Recommendations-for-Physical-Activity-in-Adults_UCM_307976_Article.jsp#.WN607zsrKUk
http://www.mensfitness.com/nutrition/lack-sleep-increases-risk-stroke

IF YOU OR AN AGING LOVED ONE ARE CONSIDERING SENIOR CARE IN SUDBURY, MA, PLEASE CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT HOME HELPERS TODAY. CALL NOW (508) 545-0164.