Seniors and Stroke
As we get older there is increasing concern about overall health and conditions that can impact wellness and daily living. Of the many causes of illness, injury, disability, and death that can impact seniors lives in older age, stroke is among the most common.
A stroke, and the changes that may come as a result of such an incident, can cause meaningful alterations in seniors’ lives. Understanding what a stroke is and what steps you can take to reduce the risk is crucial to minimizing damage and maximizing recovery in the event of a stroke.
What is a Stroke?
A stroke takes place when the blood supply to the brain is impeded or interrupted, preventing brain cells from getting the necessary oxygen and nutrients. The impact a stroke has upon the body is largely determined by the location in the brain affected, and the severity of the incident.
This type of stroke occurs when there is a blockage in a blood vessel or artery supplying blood to brain, preventing sufficient blood flow. Brain cells begin to die as they are deprived of essential nutrients.
A less common type of stroke is a hemorrhagic stroke, which occurs when a blood vessel or artery becomes ruptured and starts bleeding into the brain. A brain aneurysm is an example of this type of stroke.
Risk Factors for Stroke
A stroke is something that can happen to anyone at any time in their lives, but the risk does significantly increase with greater age (particularly after the age of 55). For this reason seniors are generally at a higher risk of stroke, but there are also other lifestyle and health related risk factors that seniors should be aware of. Lifestyle modifications can be made to improve health and wellbeing, and address these potential problems:
- High blood pressure
- Poor diet
- High Cholesterol
Many of the risk factors that put people at higher risk for stroke are inter-related and can be addressed and reduced with a few basic lifestyle changes. Eating a healthy, nutritious diet combined with regular exercise helps reduce high blood pressure and high cholesterol which can lead to diabetes and stroke.
What are the Signs?
Getting medical attention immediately is absolutely critical when it comes to a stroke. The following are some signs and symptoms to look out for, which signal a need for immediate medical attention.
Remember the F.A.S.T. rule:
- Face – Is one side of the face drooping, or does it feel numb?
- Arms – can the person raise and keep both arms above their head?
- Speech – Is the person’s speech slurred or jumbled? Are they able to repeat a simple sentence?
- Time – Time is of the essence – Call 911 immediately
Signs and symptoms may vary depending on the area of the brain affected, but if any of these symptoms are recognized do not hesitate to call for assistance. The longer it takes for help to be administered, the higher the risk for lasting damage.
Much of the treatment that comes after a stroke is focused on rebuilding and relearning any of the functions that were lost as a result. There are various programs that assist seniors in recovering and meeting the new challenges that they may face following the occurrence of a stroke.
A stroke is a major event that can alter how seniors live their daily lives, but being aware of the risk factors, talking to medical professionals about reducing those risks, and general engagement in self-care practices are all beneficial preventative measures.
What should a post-stroke recovery plan look like?
Again, the road to recovery will vary by individual depending on the nature of the stroke and how quickly medical assistance was delivered.
Some general guidelines for stroke recovery may include:
- Setting realistic and achievable goals
- Establishing a healthy and effective routine
- Cognitive therapy to help correct any speech or judgment issues
- Physical therapy with recommended exercises
- Emotional support
- Medication management
- Assistance with daily routines
Home care assistance is available from professional caregivers to help seniors affected by stroke with every day tasks and activities to get back on the path to independent living.