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.
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.
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.
As we move into November, National Fall Prevention Month, we are still reeling from the effects of the pandemic across Canada and the world. We have been sheltering in place by mandate or choice. Yet, the risks of falling do not decrease with fewer outings! And the challenges of caregiving have grown as personal visits have not been possible for many families. So there are different ways to approach the risks of falling and possible solutions but, most importantly, we need to have the conversations about falls.
Together as families and organizations we can help keep older adults healthy and injury free! Fall Prevention Month is designed to spread this important public health message.
Falls are a leading cause of lost independence and mobility; often leaving seniors unable to fully recover from the trauma. Their overall health declines, and care needs increase significantly. People aged 65 and older have a 25% greater chance of falling. And if someone has fallen once, their chances of falling again doubles. It seems like common sense — everybody falls, no matter what age. However, for many older adults, an unexpected fall can result in a serious and costly injury. The good news is that most falls can be prevented. If you are the caregiver, you have the power to reduce your loved one’s risk of falling, and your own fall risk as well.
More than trip hazards, things like subtle changes in vision can reduce depth perception, making even stepping out of the house or off a curb more dangerous. If your family member wears transition lenses which change with the ambient light, one strategy may be to simply stop and wait for the time to allow the lenses and, therefore, the vision to adjust before walking further. Extra lighting along outdoor pathways and interior hallways can reduce the chance of not seeing the tripping hazard that may be present.
Doing an evaluation of the home for safety hazards can be done, even with social distancing! As the caregiver, if you look for the tripping hazards or the ways to make every day activities easier; such as a handheld shower or grab bars, it’s a start and part of the safety conversation. The safety of your loved one reduces your stress and worry as the caregiver.
You can reach out to an Age Safe® Canada trained Senior Home Safety Specialists who can educate and assist you with home safety tips for seniors as part of a comprehensive home safety assessment. Age Safe® Canada develops training programs and certifications to empower senior services providers to better help decrease falls and fall-related injuries.
Age Safe® Live Well.
On Thanksgiving, Canadians give thanks for a successful year and harvest. The Thanksgiving holiday tradition in Canada dates back to when the English explorer, Martin Frobisher, came upon the land we now know as Canada while searching for a Northern passage to the Orient. When Frobisher arrived in Canada on his third voyage in 1578, he held a formal ceremony where he gave thanks for surviving the long journey – one of his ships had been lost on the way. South of the border, it would be another 43 years before the Pilgrims sat down to celebrate their first Thanksgiving meal. Happy Thanksgiving 2020!
Thanksgiving became a nationally recognised holiday in Canada in 1879. The date of the holiday has moved around a few times since then, and settled on the current date in 1957. Apart from taking place years before its American counterpart, Canadian thanksgiving also takes place over a month earlier. One reason is that the harvest season starts earlier in the more northerly Canada than it does in the US.
Today, it is celebrated by gathering with loved ones and preparing the Thanksgiving Day meal, which usually includes turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and many other dishes. There are often regional variations on the meal.
In the regions where Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated, most government offices will be closed and so will many local amenities. Public transport is likely to run on a holiday or Sunday schedule. Banks will be closed along with the Toronto Stock Exchange.
What are you thankful for this year? Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
October 1 of each year is National Seniors Day, which coincides with the United Nations International Day of Older Persons and is an occasion for Canadians to celebrate the profound contributions of seniors in our homes, communities and workplaces. For all they have achieved throughout life and for all they continue to accomplish, we owe older citizens our thanks and a heartfelt salute. We can best demonstrate our gratitude and esteem by making sure that our communities are good places in which to safely mature and grow older — places in which older people can participate to the fullest and can find the encouragement, acceptance, assistance, and services they need to continue to lead lives of independence and dignity. This year marks the 10th Anniversary of National Seniors Day in Canada and due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, a more solemn milestone as well.
Join CARP and special guests for an interactive online event honouring Canada’s seniors and those who have lost their lives to COVID-19 .
More than 82% of COVID-19 related deaths are connected to long-term care homes—over 7,500 vulnerable residents have succumbed to the virus to date. More than just a statistic, this number represents real people with names and faces, and with important life stories that must be remembered.
With this in mind, CARP is hosting Canada’s largest-ever virtual meeting of seniors to talk about what happened and why, as well as how to protect our vulnerable older people in the coming months. Just as importantly, the event serves to remember those who lost their lives; not as statistics, but as parents, grandparents, teachers, mentors—real people who we failed to protect. A national Minute of Silence will serve as a powerful reminder that one death due to negligence in long-term care is one too many.
The free online event, comprising both a national and regional portion which will directly tackle seniors’ issues in your part of Canada, brings together a panel of very special guests to explore critical topics affecting older adults and offers an empowering message of hope on this milestone occasion.
Click Here for Event Information: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/carp-national-seniors-day-online-event-tickets-115086631212
CARP (Canadian Association for Retired Persons) is Canada’s largest advocacy association for older Canadians. Today CARP has more than 320,000 members. As a non-partisan association, CARP is committed to working with all parties in government to advocate for older Canadians. Its mission is to advocate for better healthcare, financial security, and freedom from ageism. CARP members engage in polls and petitions, email their elected representatives, connect with local chapters and share stories and opinions on urgent issues. Most CARP members also subscribe to ZOOMER Magazine, watch ZoomerTelevision/VisionTV, and listen to Zoomer Radio (AM740/96.7FM/ZoomerRadio.ca). For more information, please visit https://www.carp.ca
“National Seniors Day is a way for Canada to celebrate seniors for their generous contribution to our families, our communities, our workplaces and our country. Celebrating the day annually will help raise awareness about seniors’ contributions and the important roles they play in Canadian society.” – Government of Canada
Government Resources: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/seniors/forum.html
Age Safe® Canada develops training programs and certifications to empower senior services providers to better help decrease falls and fall-related injuries.
Advancing Successful Aging at Home™