About Strokes

July 3, 2018
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that someone in America has a stroke every 40 seconds and someone dies from a stroke every four minutes.

Because a stroke is a serious medical problem, it’s wise for all people providing senior care to seniors to know the risk factors associated with strokes and how to recognize a stroke when it happens.

Reacting quickly to a stroke to get the proper medical attention can reduce damage to the brain and help minimize additional complications.

What is a stroke?

A stroke, also called a brain attack or cerebrovascular accident (CVA), happens when blood flow to part of the brain is cut off or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts.

During a stroke, the brain is oxygen deprived and brain cells start dying within minutes. This may lead to disability, brain damage, or even death.

Kinds of Strokes

The two kinds of strokes are:

1. Ischemic Stroke: Occurs when blood clots or particles block the blood vessels

2. Hemorrhagic Stroke: Occurs when a blood vessel bursts

If you’re concerned about your senior loved one’s potential for having a stroke, knowing the risk factors can help you to work with your loved one to reduce the chances they may have a stroke.

Risk Factors Associated with Stroke

At least 1 in every 8 stroke survivors will have another within 5 years. For this reason, it is important to understand the risk factors and changes one can make to his or her lifestyle to prevent a future attack.

There are risk factors associated with strokes beyond your loved one’s control, such as age, gender, and family history. However, there are several risk factors you can help your loved one to work on.

Those risk factors include:

  • Uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes with uncontrolled blood sugar levels
  • Obesity
  • Low physical activity
  • High cholesterol
  • Diet
  • Alcohol

Related blogs: How to Reduce Stroke Risk

Stroke Symptoms

Two million brain cells die every minute during a stroke and the longer someone waits to receive treatment, the higher the risk of permanent brain damage or even death.

Unfortunately, the signs of a stroke may be subtle enough that someone might not recognize it in time. For this reason, it is imperative that every person knows the signs and symptoms of a stroke and how to act F.A.S.T. to save a life.

The American Stroke Association developed an acronym (F.A.S.T.) designed to help individuals recognize and respond to the symptoms of a stroke:

Face – Does one side of his or her face droop, or is there numbness? 

Arms – Ask the person to raise both arms. Is one arm weak or numb? Does one arm drift downward?

Speech – Is the person having difficulty speaking or understanding? Recite a simple phrase and ask the person to repeat it back to you. Is the sentence repeated correctly?

Time to Call 9-1-1 – Do not wait until these symptoms go away. Call for help immediately! Treatment is most effective soon after the stroke occurs.

If your senior loved one shows any of the following common signs or symptoms of strokes, act quickly to minimize the damage.

  • Numbness or paralysis of the face, legs, or arms, especially on just one side of the body
  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the leg
  • Confusion that includes trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • A sudden severe headache during which your loved one may vomit or feel dizzy
  • Sudden blurry or blackened eyesight in one eye or in both eyes
  • Difficulty walking
  • Loss of coordination or balance

Related blogs: Early Warning Signs and Symptoms of a Stroke

Stroke Prevention

Preventing stroke really goes back to the risk factors and working toward reducing them.

If your senior loved one smokes, encourage them to quit.

If they suffer from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, ensure the conditions are monitored and they take the medicines their doctor prescribed.

Help your loved one to remain physically active, eat a healthy diet, and to avoid gaining excess weight or lose weight, if necessary.

If you are concerned your senior loved one isn’t taking care of themselves and is forgetting to take their medications, hiring a senior care provider who can check in on them, help them prepare healthy meals, and remind them to take their medications will help ensure your loved one stays healthy and avoids strokes.

How Long Will It Take to Recover From a Stroke?

Watching your senior parent experience a stroke can be one of the most upsetting experiences you can go through as a family caregiver. When your loved one encounters this type of medical emergency, you want to know everything you can about how they will get through their recovery and what you can do to make this process easier and smoother for them.

With this in mind, one of the questions you might have is how long it will take for your senior to recover.

When your parent suffers a stroke, the first thing on your mind might be when they can recover and return to their normal lifestyle. While you hope their medical team will be able to give you a clear timeline for their recovery, the reality is there is no one answer to how long it will take.

Every person who experiences a stroke will face their own issues throughout recovery. A wide variety of factors will influence the unique path they take, which might make their recovery faster or slower than others they know who have experienced a stroke.

When it comes to how long your parent’s recovery will take, it is important to remember that the most rapid improvements are likely to happen early in their recovery. In the first few weeks of recovery, you will notice big changes in your parent’s condition and symptoms, but these improvements will slow down later in their recovery.

While this might cause concern, recognizing this slowed progression and understanding it will happen can help reduce the stress from watching their improvements slow.

As your parent is recovering from a stroke, it is vital for you to remain in close contact with your elderly parent’s medical team so you can confidently monitor their condition. Their doctor can ensure your parent is recovering effectively and progressing properly. This can give you greater confidence they are still progressing and if something does need to change to encourage them further, you can make these changes promptly.

Related Article: How to Care for Elderly Parents After a Stroke

Life After Stroke

Understand your role as a caregiver for someone who has suffered from a stroke. Stroke survivors may experience communication, physical, emotional, and behavioral challenges, increasing the need for your support. Provide encouragement and celebrate improvements in recovery to boost your loved one’s morale.

Strokes can happen to anyone at any time, regardless of age, sex, or race. If you know someone who has experienced a stroke, know you’re not alone. There are plenty of resources out there for you as a caregiver.

Contact Care Options for Kids for Home Health Care Services

Starting senior care for your aging parent can be one of the most nurturing, effective, and meaningful decisions you can make for them throughout the course of your caregiver journey with them. The highly personalized services of a senior home care services provider can ensure your parent gets the support, care, and assistance they need to live the healthiest, safest, and most comfortable lifestyle possible as they age in place.

This can be particularly meaningful if they suffer a serious medical condition such as a stroke. This care provider can help your parent understand the treatment and prescription guidelines given by their doctor, encourage them to eat a healthier diet, support a more active lifestyle, and give them the services that will help them live better throughout and after their recovery.

If you or an aging loved one are considering home care services, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today at (888) 592-5855.