Stroke and Your Aging Parent
February 2018 by Valerie Shaw
Nearly three-quarters of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65. In addition, it’s noted that the risk for stroke doubles for each decade between the ages of 55 and 85. Though the statistics can be daunting, the good news is that there are some lifestyle changes that you can help your parent incorporate to help minimize the chances of them becoming one of the victims of a stroke attack.
What is a Stroke?
A stroke is, essentially, reduced blood flow to an area of the brain due to arterial blockage or a broken blood vessel. It can be due to a blood clot, narrowing of an artery due to fatty plaque formations, or a ruptured aneurysm. Reduced blood flow results in diminished oxygen to that area of the brain which ultimately leads to death of the brain cells. Sudden bleeding into the brain also results in the same cellular death. A stroke can be hardly noticeable as occurs with a transient ischemic attack or TIA in which there is usually little residual affect. At the other end of the spectrum are massive strokes that can lead to loss of life.
How to tell if your Parent is Having One
Because prompt medical attention can make all the difference in both the recovery and extent of damage, it’s important to know the warning signs. New medication is available that, if given within the first three hours following a stroke, can actually reverse the effects. If your parent exhibits any of these signs, even if only temporary or for brief moments, be sure to get them to the nearest medical emergency facility.
- Trouble speaking—words may sound garbled and indiscernible.
- Confusion or changes in behavior.
- Numbness or weakness on one side of the body such as the face, arm or leg. When they smile, you will notice one side of the mouth does not lift up, or an arm that is raised cannot be held up.
- Trouble seeing.
- Headache that comes on suddenly.
- Nausea or vomiting and extreme fatigue.
How to Help
A healthy lifestyle helps to contribute to healthy arteries and lack of strokes. This consists of eating healthy food high in fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fat and sodium. Limit alcohol and if they smoke, it is time to stop. Check out smokinggov.com for tips to help you loved one succeed in cessation.
In addition to a good diet, exercise plays a key role. They should start slow if they have not incorporated an exercise regime into their life. Ultimately, getting 30 minutes of exercise for at least 5 days a week is recommended. Exercise with them. It’s no fun to exercise alone and they will be encouraged by your participation.
Keep an eye on their blood sugar and blood pressure levels. Communicate and follow up with their heart doctor or primary physician.
Home Care Provider
Assisting Hands Home Care can assist with the activities of daily living. We offer support in meal preparation, light housekeeping, personal care, appointments, or going out on daily walks and accompanying your parent on social outings. We can provide that all-important companionship so vital to the health and well-being of someone recovering from a stroke.
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