The sudden onset of stroke symptoms can happen to anyone at any time, making education about the signs and symptoms of a “brain attack” the first line of defense to stroke prevention. Be a stroke hero – how to identify the signs of stroke and why you should act fast
“I’m a fanatical fan of football, so you can imagine how excited I was to enter the stadium to see my favorite team play; but I lost my balance and fell. I’m lucky the people near me jumped into action and called 911,” recalled stroke survivor William Martin. “They are the real heroes in my medical emergency story; they knew the signs of a stroke.”
Stroke is the second leading cause of death and third leading cause of disability worldwide. Today, only 10% of stroke survivors make a full recovery and 25% recover with minor impairments. Forty percent of survivors experience moderate to severe impairments that require special care. Strokes are common and deadly, but the good news is almost all strokes can be prevented.
What is stroke?
A stroke happens when the blood vessels carrying nutrients to the brain either form a clot or rupture, causing a sudden blockage in the arteries leading to the brain. When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so it and brain cells die.
How to prevent stroke
Generally, there are three treatment stages for stroke: prevention, therapy immediately after stroke and post-stroke rehabilitation. Engaging in active prevention is the most effective treatment.
What can you do to prevent stroke?
- Monitor your blood pressure
- Control your cholesterol
- Keep your blood sugar down
- Keep active
- Eat healthy
- Lose weight if necessary
- Do not smoke
- Talk to your physician about aspirin and other medications
In the event of stroke: Act F.A.S.T
“Every minute from the time the stroke occurs to when you receive treatment makes a difference,” said neurointerventional radiologist at St. Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City Jared Halpin, M.D. “Many types of stroke are now treatable with emergency medical interventions to either quickly dissolve or remove the blood clot or stop the bleeding that is causing symptoms.”
Seek treatment, F.A.S.T. Follow the acronym below to check for signs of stroke:
- FACE drooping: Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven or lopsided?
- ARM weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
- Speech: Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence.
- Time to call 9-1-1: If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.
“My doctor restored the blood flow in my brain by threading a tube through an artery in my leg and used a medical device called Solitaire X to remove the clot. I was surprised I didn’t need brain surgery,” said Martin. “The best part – I watched the final quarter of the game on TV while in the hospital recovery room.”
Eighty million people have survived stroke worldwide. For more information on stroke prevention tips and treatment options, visit the Medtronic Stroke Heroes page at https://global.medtronic.com/xg-en/c/neurological/world-stroke-day.html.
Aging. The five-letter word that scares us. Not just because of our physical appearance changing, but our health, especially our cognitive health, begins to deteriorate.
Thankfully there are signs to detect cognitive issues in seniors, as well as ways to prevent or slow down cognitive impairment, such as having a healthy planned lifestyle.
The Warning Signs
We all experience those moments when we walk into a room and forget why we went there in the first place. Or forgetting what you were going to tell someone. However, for seniors, these experiences can be a tell-tale sign of a decline in cognitive skills. Making decisions, concentration and even learning can become harder.
These symptoms may be natural side effects of aging, but sometimes they can be an indication of more serious conditions such as Alzheimer’s or dementia. Due to the severity of these illnesses, you should seek medical advice for you or your loved one immediately to determine what is causing the cognitive distress.
Signs of Cognitive Issues
- Mood Swings
- Trouble recalling people, places, or memories
- Repeating questions/stories
- Difficulty concentrating
- Poor decision making/ judgment choices
- Decline in vision
- Struggling to find the “right words”
- Misplace items on a regular basis
- Having trouble processing things
Remaining active as a senior is imperative not only to physical health but also to cognitive health.
Stress can wreak havoc on our mental health by debilitating learning and memory functioning. Exercising releases endorphins, which helps improve mood and release stress.
Along with physical activities, mental activities help strengthen our brain’s functionality. Reading, taking adult education courses, playing sudoku or crossword puzzles are great ways to keep one’s mind challenged and working in order to help in preventing Alzheimer’s.
Having a healthy diet is not only important all the time, but even more essential for seniors. Healthy breakfasts consisting of eggs, yogurt, fruit, and cereal are a great start to a senior’s day.
Along with a nutritional breakfast, there are other foods that are good for cognitive health.
We’ve all been told to grow up to eat our veggies and for good reason! According to Harvard Health Publishing greens such as kale, spinach, collards, and broccoli have vitamin k, lutein, folate, and beta carotene- all of which are nutrients that promote brain health, even helping slow cognitive decline.
Who knew fatty fish could help with Alzheimer’s?! Fatty fish such as sardines,
Salmon and tuna are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which have been related to lowering the blood levels of a protein that forms clumps in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s: beta-amyloid.
The natural plant tint that helps give berries their color, flavonoids, can help improve one’s memory!
Tea and Coffee
Harvard Health Publishing notes that in a study, those who had a higher caffeine intake scored better on tests of mental functions! Get concentration and mental function from a daily dose of caffeine.
Nuts are a great source of protein and walnuts can be linked to the improvement of memory.
As humans, we need social interaction to promote healthy cognitive health. This becomes even more important as we age.
According to the National Institute on Aging being socially active can be linked to low levels of interleukin-6: “…an inflammatory factor implicated in age-related disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and some forms of cancer.”
There are many ways seniors can socialize. Visiting with family and friends is a great way to catch up and socialize with ones they love.
If your loved one is in an assisted living facility or nursing home, they can participate in group activities, such as game nights, classes and more. Sometimes these facilities may offer pet therapy which is a perfect way to socialize with four-legged companions.
Intergenerational programs are also a great source of socialization. Facilities or nursing homes may have partnerships with local schools and organizations, which allows seniors to bond with a younger group and learn from them and keep their minds active.
Cognitive issues are scary. But there are ways to prolong the severe effects. If you or your loved one are having trouble with memory or anything related, try some of the solutions above to help slow down cognitive decline.
About the Author
Melissa Andrews is the Content Marketing Strategist for Paradise Living Centers, an assisted living center for seniors with locations in Paradise Valley and Phoenix, Arizona. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and going on hiking trips with her siblings and cousins.
Anyone may become dehydrated, but the condition is especially dangerous for young children and older adults. Older adults naturally have a lower volume of water in their bodies, and may have conditions or take medications that increase the risk of dehydration. For seniors, dehydration is serious and could cause confusion and anxiety, as well as an increased risk of heart disease, infection and falls if not getting enough fluids.
Severe dehydration is serious, and even life threatening.
There are many reasons older adults do not drink enough water. One is that as we age we may lose our sense of thirst, so they may not seem thirsty. Also because of continence issues, frailty or forgetfulness. Below are tips for incorporating more liquids into your daily life for people of all ages.
Avoid soda, coffee, tea, and alcohol.
Your body needs fluids, but not all fluids are equally beneficial. Caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, and some sodas have a dehydrating effect. The same is true for alcohol.
Keep a water bottle handy at all times.
Because seniors can have a diminished capacity to recognize thirst, and some seniors might have difficulty moving around, keeping a full water bottle with you will remind you to drink up each time you look at it.
Drink a full glass of water with any non-mealtime medication.
If you take non-mealtime medication three times a day, this will automatically get you three glasses of water.
Replace water lost through environmental factors and exercise.
Since water is lost through perspiration, keep a water bottle with you when you exercise and when you’re outside in warm weather.
If you hate the taste of water, add a little natural flavor.
There’s no need to pay for fancy water. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon, lime, or orange to flavor your own water. For more variety, try putting some sliced melon or cucumber into a pitcher of water.
Eat foods with high water content.
Fresh fruits and veggies, along with broth, gelatin snacks, ice pops, and Italian ices contain lots of water — and they can help hydrate you.
If you start to feel sick, start sipping water immediately.
Vomiting and diarrhea can dehydrate you. If you can’t tolerate water, suck on crushed ice or an ice pop.
Use a straw or squeeze bottle.
Either method can help when you’re not up to sitting up and drinking directly from a glass.
Drink throughout the day.
Consistent hydration is better than flooding your system with a large quantity of water all at once. Independent seniors need to remind themselves about hydration, and setting alarms at intervals throughout the day can help. You can also leave sticky notes around your home to remind you to drink more water.
Age Safe® Live Well.
As 2020 come to an end, we want to express our most sincere gratitude to all those who have worked tirelessly to assist our seniors throughout this unprecedented time. Times of difficulty and crisis show us the importance of kindness, compassion, and the strength of humanity.
This year Age Safe® has been honored to have trained professionals, organizations, non-profits and entrepreneurs in eight countries. We are grateful for the continued trust and respect of our clients and partners and we stand strong and willing to support families looking for trusted aging in place resources.
Age Safe® Live Well.
The Age Safe® Team
November is the Sixth Annual Falls Prevention Month Across Canada. I have spent my entire career literally climbing on every conceivable type of staircase. Homes, cottages, schools, offices, arenas, lodges, basements, attics, storefronts, back rooms, circular, spiral, winding, straight, steep, shallow, concrete, carpeted…I can go on. I have done this because of the overwhelming reality that people need assistance in navigating the stairs when they age and because a fall can change everything. Let’s Not Fall into Fall
Stairs are an integral factor in architecture that ties floors together, attempt to level changes in grade and add aesthetic value…Do you ever notice that Royalty always descend onto their admirers on a sweeping grand staircase!
But as we age, the stairs become more evil then necessary especially if we are not aware or not prepared to continue to use them safely. There is significant data and statistics that illustrate the dangers of falling on the stairs, but most people have clearly learned from a young age that the stairs can be dangerous. Climbing them for the first time is definitely a watershed moment in a person’s life…learning how to avoid carrying the laundry up for your spouse becomes a tactic later in life…like I say, they become more evil then a necessity as we age.
Regardless of your position in life, stairs will always be around us. They are an ancient invention that hasn’t changed much in centuries, so we continue to learn to live with them. They can also be our friend as they can keep us active, they lead to the peace and solitude of upstairs and the lead to the treasures and family warmth that is downstairs. They are not to be feared but certainly respected.
Be mindful of how to use the stairs, when to use them and not use them. Please follow the link to the Falls Prevention Month website for more insight and tips on navigating not just the stairs but all points built around the Falls Loop concept of Be Ready, Be Steady
Our friends at MacMaster University also have some good information on the concept around the fear of falling that is an interesting read.
Jim Closs has been helping people go up and down their stairs for thirty years.