A stroke is every bit as dangerous as a heart attack. As a result, it’s critical to be aware of stroke symptoms and respond promptly if you or someone you know is experiencing one. Stroke risk rises with age, nearly doubling every ten years after age 55, making it critical to recognize stroke symptoms in older adults. People who get to the hospital within three hours of their first symptoms have less disability three months later than those who get delayed care. This blog post will address what causes a stroke and the warning signals to look for.
What is a Stroke?
A stroke comes about when the flow of blood through the brain changes. Brain cells receive oxygen and nutrients from the blood. Cells that do not get enough oxygen suffer and finally die if blood cannot flow to a portion of the brain. When brain cells are deprived of oxygen briefly, they can sometimes repair themselves. However, brain cells that die cannot be fixed. While there is growing evidence that new brain cells can help to replace those lost in some situations, this takes time and occurs much more slowly in older persons. As a result, a stroke victim may have difficulty speaking, thinking, or walking. There are mainly three sorts of strokes:
Ischemic stroke: This is the most recurring kind of stroke, and it occurs when a blood clot or narrowing of a blood vessel (artery) limits blood supply to the brain. This limits blood flow to other parts of the brain and stops oxygen and nutrients from getting to the brain cells. Ischemic strokes are most frequently caused by:
- Thrombosis: Thrombosis is a blood clot in a brain or neck blood artery.
- Embolism: Embolism is a blood clot that travels from one part of the body to another, such as the heart to the neck or brain.
- Stenosis: This occurs when a blood vessel in the brain narrows, often due to fatty deposits lining the arterial walls.
Hemorrhagic stroke: This is the second most common type of stroke. It is distinguished by a burst blood vessel, which allows blood to flow into or around the brain. This breach lowers oxygen and nutrition delivery to brain cells while exposing the brain tissue to harmful compounds that may cause the cells to perish. The bleeding also raises pressure inside the skull, which can compress and injure brain tissue.
Transient ischemic attack (T.I.A.): Also known as a “mini stroke.” It differs from other types of strokes in that blood movement to the brain is interrupted for a short period, usually no more than five minutes. However, it is critical to understand that a T.I.A., like a large stroke, is a warning sign of a future stroke and is a medical emergency.
Early Stroke Symptoms in Older Adults
Numbness: This is a sudden loss of feeling in the hands, feet, arms, legs, or other extremities. It might also cause tingling sensations. A stroke can produce numbness on one side of the body while leaving the other completely functional.
Confusion: Not understanding what is happening or losing their ability to think coherently. Your loved one may have a bewildered expression on their face, be unable to focus or struggle to make decisions.
Difficulty understanding: Your loved one may struggle to understand speech, language, or numbers. They may begin to wrinkle their brows, shake their heads, say “no,” speak less, or feel uneasy.
A severe headache: This is a sudden, severe headache in the head, scalp, or neck that has no known cause and occurs in people with no history of headaches. You may notice your loved one frequently caressing their head or rubbing their temples and having light sensitivity.
Balance problems: difficulty standing, walking, or moving at all. Your family member may have started tripping over nothing or has become extremely clumsy. They could also wobble around and grab onto fixed things to stay upright.
Loss of Coordination: Coordination loss might manifest as difficulties standing, walking, or moving. It may look like your loved one has suddenly become clumsy or is under the influence of alcohol.
Dizziness: The sensation of being faint, lightheaded, or as if the room is whirling. Your family member may move slowly or hold their head.
Vision changes: Vision alterations include blurred vision or difficulty seeing in one or both eyes. Your loved one may frequently squint or wipe their eyes and may be unable to read.
Trouble speaking: Difficulties include the inability to speak, slurred or unintelligible speech, and inappropriate word usage. You may be unable to understand your loved one’s sentences or have difficulty conversing with them.
Weakness: Weakness is a lack of strength in the face, arm, or leg. Your loved one may always choose to sit or lie down and struggle with simple tasks.
Stroke Awareness employs the abbreviation “B.E. F.A.S.T.” to aid in the memory of some of the symptoms of a stroke. B.E. F.A.S.T. stands for:
Balance Lost: Ask your loved one to rise or take a few steps if they lose their balance, they might be experiencing a stroke or if they’re having trouble.
Eyesight Loss: Ask your family member who is losing their vision to read a clock, a word, or a sentence that is close by. If they cannot, they are likely having a stroke and losing their vision.
Face drooping: Request a grin from your loved one. They might be having a stroke if one side of their face appears to droop or feels numb.
Arm weakness: To know if your family member has arm weakness, have them extend both arms above their heads. If they are having difficulty because of muscle weakness or one arm appears to droop, this clearly indicates a stroke.
Speech difficulty: To know if they are having speech difficulty, have your loved one repeat a simple line, such as their name or a weather observation. They may have trouble repeating or recalling words, and their speech may be slurred and incoherent.
Time to call 911: Call 911 if your family member is having difficulty performing any of these tests or is experiencing any of these symptoms or other unexpected signals. Even if you’re not convinced your loved one is experiencing a stroke, being safe is always preferable. Immediate medical attention is required to help reduce the long-term detrimental effects of a stroke.
One approach to keeping your loved one safe is to know how to spot the signs of a stroke in an older adult. Encourage seniors to make changes to lower their risk of stroke if they have several risk factors that can be managed. Their life might be saved thanks to you. If a loved one has suffered from a stroke, they may experience long-term consequences.
The path to recovery and rehabilitation can be long, but stroke survivors can retain a good quality of life with your help and the help of professionals. Home care is one technique to help elderly recover after a stroke. Professional caregivers can assist seniors with daily duties and in adjusting to life after a stroke. If you need assistance keeping an elderly loved one safe at home, Help & Care, LLC can assist you. We provide senior caregiving services from four hours per week to twenty-four hours per day.