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.
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.
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.
Global Handwashing Day is an annual global advocacy day dedicated to advocacting for handwashing with soap as an easy, effective, and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives. “Hand Hygiene for All” is the theme of this year’s Global Handwashing Day, following a recent World Health Organization initiative calling for improved hand hygiene. Global Handwashing Day was established by the Global Handwashing Partnership.
The first Global Handwashing Day was held in 2008, when over 120 million children around the world washed their hands with soap in more than 70 countries. Everyone can protect themselves, their families, and their communities through handwashing with soap. Though it requires few resources—soap and a small amount of water—the benefits are significant. Handwashing with soap helps prevent the spread of infections including influenza and Ebola.
Keeping our hands clean is one of the simplest and most important habits we can adopt to prevent contracting Covid-19 and spreading the coronavirus that causes the disease to others. Without washing properly and killing off the coronavirus — and other viruses, bacteria and germs we pick up from raw meats, fecal matter and respiratory droplets — it can spread between people and cause disease.
Be grateful you can wash your hands.
There are 818 million children who don’t have access to basic handwashing with water and soap at school. At least 3 billion people, or 40% of the world’s population, do not have a handwashing facility with soap and water at home.
Handwashing with soap is an easy, effective, affordable do-it-yourself practice that prevents infections and saves lives.
Just Do It!…please
How Germs Spread
Washing hands can keep you healthy and prevent the spread of respiratory and diarrheal infections from one person to the next. Germs can spread from other people or surfaces when you:
- Touch your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- Prepare or eat food and drinks with unwashed hands
- Touch a contaminated surface or objects
- Blow your nose, cough, or sneeze into hands and then touch other people’s hands or common objects
Key Times to Wash Hands
You can help yourself and your loved ones stay healthy by washing your hands often, especially during these key times when you are likely to get and spread germs:
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before eating food
- Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After using the toilet
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
- After handling pet food or pet treats
- After touching garbage
Follow Five Steps to Wash Your Hands the Right Way
Washing your hands is easy, and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community—from your home and workplace to childcare facilities and hospitals.
Follow these five steps every time.
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
Worried about dry hands? After washing your hands, simply pat them dry with a clean towel but leave them slightly damp “to lock in the moisture” from ointments and creams that you’ll work into your skin, fingertips and nails.