Stroke

Stroke

A stroke is serious, just like a heart attack, so it’s important to know the signs of stroke and act quickly if you suspect someone is having one. Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, and causes more serious long-term disabilities than any other disease. Older people are at higher risk. You can take steps to lower your chance of having a stroke.

Know the Signs of Stroke

Knowing the symptoms of a stroke and acting quickly could mean the difference between life and disability or death.

Call 911 RIGHT AWAY if you see or have any of these symptoms:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg—especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden problems seeing in one eye or both eyes
  • Sudden dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, or trouble walking
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Other danger signs that may occur include double vision, drowsiness, and nausea or vomiting.

Stroke strikes fast. You should too. Call 911. Never ignore the symptoms of stroke. Call 911 if you have any stroke symptoms, even if they don’t last long.

DON’T IGNORE THE SIGNS OF STROKE!

What Is a Stroke?

A stroke happens when something changes how blood flows through the brain. Blood brings oxygen and nutrients to brain cells. If blood can’t flow to a part of the brain, cells that do not receive enough oxygen suffer and eventually die. If brain cells are without oxygen for only a short time, they can sometimes get better. But brain cells that have died can’t be brought back to life. So, someone who has had a stroke may have trouble speaking, thinking, or walking.

There are two major types of stroke. The most common kind, ischemic, is caused by a blood clot or the narrowing of a blood vessel (an artery) leading to the brain. This keeps blood from flowing into other parts of the brain and keeps needed oxygen and nutrients from reaching brain cells. Blockages that cause ischemic strokes stem from three conditions:

  • Formation of a clot within a blood vessel of the brain or neck, called thrombosis
  • Movement of a clot from another part of the body, such as from the heart to the neck or brain, called an embolism
  • Severe narrowing of an artery (stenosis) in or leading to the brain, due to fatty deposits lining the blood vessel walls

In the second major kind of stroke, hemorrhagic, a broken blood vessel causes bleeding in the brain. This break in the vessel also stops oxygen and nutrients from reaching brain cells.

Sometimes the symptoms of a stroke last only a few minutes and then go away. That could be a transient ischemic attack (TIA), also called a mini-stroke. A TIA is a medical emergency. You should get medical help right away. If a TIA is not treated quickly, it could be followed within hours or days by a major disabling stroke.

Lower Your Risk of Stroke

Some risk factors for stroke, like age, race, and family history, can’t be controlled. But you can make changes to lower your risk of stroke. Talk to your doctor about what you can do. Even if you’re in perfect health, follow these suggestions:

  • Control your blood pressure. Have your blood pressure checked often. If it is high, follow your doctor’s advice to lower it. Treating high blood pressure lowers the risk of both stroke and heart disease.
  • Stop smoking. Smoking increases your risk for stroke. It’s never too late to quit.
  • Control your cholesterol. If you have high cholesterol, work with your doctor to lower it. Cholesterol, a type of fat in the blood, can build up on the walls of your arteries. In time, this can block blood flow and lead to a stroke.
  • Control your diabetes. Untreated diabetes can damage blood vessels and also leads to narrowed arteries and stroke. Follow your doctor’s suggestions for keeping diabetes under control.
  • Eat healthy foods. Eat foods that are low in cholesterol and saturated fats. Include a variety of fruits and vegetables every day.
  • Exercise regularly. Try to make physical activity a part of your everyday life. Do things you like; for example, take a brisk walk, ride a bicycle, or go swimming. Talk with your healthcare provider if you haven’t been exercising and you want to start a vigorous program or increase your physical activity.

If you have had a stroke in the past, it’s important to reduce your risk of a second stroke. Your brain helps you recover from a stroke by drawing on body systems that now do double duty. That means a second stroke can be twice as bad.

Diagnosing and Treating Stroke

A doctor will diagnose a stroke based on symptoms, medical history, and medical tests such as a CT scan. A CT scan is a test that lets doctors look closely at pictures of the brain.

All strokes benefit from immediate medical treatment! But only people with ischemic stroke, the kind caused by a blood clot, can be helped by a drug called t-PA (tissue-plasminogen activator). This drug breaks up blood clots and can greatly lessen the damage caused by an ischemic stroke. Starting treatment with t-PA within 3 hours after an ischemic stroke is important to recovery. To be evaluated and receive treatment, patients need to get to the hospital within 60 minutes. Getting to a hospital right away allows time for a CT scan of the brain. This scan will show whether the clot-busting medicine is the right treatment choice.

With stroke, treatment depends on the stage of the disease. There are three treatment stages for stroke: prevention, therapy immediately after stroke, and rehabilitation after stroke. Stroke therapies include medications, surgery, and rehabilitation.

Medication or drug therapy is the most common treatment for stroke. The most popular kinds of drugs to prevent or treat stroke are antithrombotics–which include antiplatelet agents and anticoagulants–and thrombolytics. Thrombolytic drugs, like t-PA, halt the stroke by dissolving the blood clot that is blocking blood flow to the brain. Antithrombotics prevent the formation of blood clots that can become stuck in an artery of the brain and cause strokes.

Surgery and vascular procedures can be used to prevent stroke, treat stroke, or repair damage to the blood vessels or malformations in and around the brain. These include angioplasty, stenting, and carotid endarterectomy.

What Happens After a Stroke?

A stroke can cause a variety of health problems. How a stroke affects a person depends on which part of the brain is damaged.

Someone who has had a stroke might be paralyzed or have weakness, usually on one side of the body. He or she might have trouble speaking or using words. There could be swallowing problems. There might be pain or numbness.

Stroke may cause problems with thinking, awareness, attention, learning, judgment, and memory. Someone who has had a stroke might feel depressed or find it hard to control emotions. Post-stroke depression may be more than general sadness resulting from the stroke incident. It is a serious behavioral problem that can hamper recovery and rehabilitation and may even lead to suicide.

There are many different ways to help people get better after a stroke. Many treatments start in the hospital and continue at home. Drugs and physical therapy can help improve balance, coordination, and problems such as trouble speaking and using words. Occupational therapy can make it easier to do things like taking a bath or cooking.

Some people make a full recovery soon after a stroke. Others take months or even years. But, sometimes the damage is so serious that therapy cannot really help.

Learn about rehabilitation after stroke.

 

Memory, Forgetfulness, and Aging: What’s Normal and What’s Not?

 

Many older adults worry about their memory and other thinking abilities. For example, they might be concerned about taking longer than before to learn new things, or they may sometimes forget to pay a bill. These changes are usually signs of mild forgetfulness — often a normal part of aging — not serious memory problems.

What’s Normal Forgetfulness and What’s Not?

Read and share this infographic to learn whether forgetfulness is a normal part of aging.

What’s the difference between normal, age-related forgetfulness and a serious memory problem? Serious memory problems make it hard to do everyday things like driving and shopping. Signs may include:

  • Asking the same questions over and over again
  • Getting lost in familiar places
  • Not being able to follow instructions
  • Becoming confused about time, people, and places

Talk with your doctor to determine whether memory and other cognitive problems are normal and what may be causing them. You may also wish to talk with your doctor about opportunities to participate in research on cognitive health and aging.

Mild Cognitive Impairment

Some older adults have a condition called mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, meaning they have more memory or other thinking problems than other people their age. People with MCI can usually take care of themselves and do their normal activities. MCI may be an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease, but not everyone with MCI will develop Alzheimer’s.

Signs of MCI include:

  • Losing things often
  • Forgetting to go to important events or appointments
  • Having more trouble coming up with desired words than other people of the same age

If you have MCI, visit your doctor every six to 12 months to track changes in memory and other thinking skills over time. There may be habits and behaviors you can change and activities you can do to help you maintain memory and thinking skills.

Dementia and Aging

Dementia is not a normal part of aging. It includes the loss of cognitive functioning — thinking, remembering, learning, and reasoning — and behavioral abilities to the extent that it interferes with a person’s quality of life and activities. Memory loss, though common, is not the only sign of dementia. People with dementia may also have problems with language skills, visual perception, or paying attention. Some people have personality changes.

While there are different forms of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form in people over age 65. The chart below explains some differences between normal signs of aging and Alzheimer’s.

Differences Between Normal Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease
Normal Aging Alzheimer’s Disease
Making a bad decision once in a while Making poor judgments and decisions a lot of the time
Missing a monthly payment Problems taking care of monthly bills
Forgetting which day it is and remembering it later Losing track of the date or time of year
Sometimes forgetting which word to use Trouble having a conversation
Losing things from time to time Misplacing things often and being unable to find them

When to Visit the Doctor for Memory Loss

If you, a family member, or friend has problems remembering recent events or thinking clearly, talk with a doctor. He or she may suggest a thorough checkup to see what might be causing the symptoms.

Memory and other thinking problems have many possible causes, including depression, an infection, or medication side effects. Sometimes, the problem can be treated, and cognition — the ability to clearly think, learn, and remember — improves. Other times, the problem is a brain disorder, such as Alzheimer’s disease, which cannot be reversed. Finding the cause of the problems is important for determining the best course of action.

A Note About Unproven Treatments

Some people are tempted by untried or unproven “cures” that claim to make the brain sharper or prevent dementia. Be cautious of pills, supplements, brain training computer games, or other products that promise to improve memory or prevent brain disorders. These might be unsafe, a waste of money, or both. They might even interfere with other medical treatments. Currently there is no drug or treatment that prevents Alzheimer’s or related dementias.

However, there are currently several drugs available by prescription to safely treat the symptoms of early and mid-stage Alzheimer’s. If you have been diagnosed with dementia, your doctor may suggest that you take one of them.

How to protect yourself and others from unproven treatments:

  • Beware if the product claim seems too promising and if it conflicts with what you’ve heard from your health care provider.
  • Question any product that claims to be a “scientific breakthrough.” Companies marketing these products often take advantage of people when they are most vulnerable and looking for a miracle cure.
  • Check with your doctor or health care professional before buying any product, including those labeled as dietary supplements, that promises to improve your memory or prevent dementia.
  • Report any products or supplements being advertised as a treatment for Alzheimer’s or other diseases on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website.

 

 

Noticing Memory Problems? What to Do Next

We’ve all forgotten a name, where we put our keys, or if we locked the front door. It’s normal to forget things once in a while. But serious memory problems make it hard to do everyday things. Forgetting how to make change, use the telephone, or find your way home may be signs of a more serious memory problem.

Read and share this infographic to learn whether forgetfulness is a normal part of aging.

For some older people, memory problems are a sign of mild cognitive impairmentAlzheimer’s disease, or a related dementia. People who are worried about memory problems should see a doctor. Signs that it might be time to talk to a doctor include:

  • Asking the same questions over and over again
  • Getting lost in places a person knows well
  • Not being able to follow directions
  • Becoming more confused about time, people, and places
  • Not taking care of oneself—eating poorly, not bathing, or being unsafe

People with memory complaints should make a follow-up appointment to check their memory after 6 months to a year. They can ask a family member, friend, or the doctor’s office to remind them if they’re worried they’ll forget.

Tips for Dealing with Forgetfulness

People with some forgetfulness can use a variety of techniques that may help them stay healthy and deal with changes in their memory and mental skills. Here are some tips:

  • Learn a new skill.
  • Stay involved in activities that can help both the mind and body.
  • Volunteer in your community, at a school, or at your place of worship.
  • Spend time with friends and family.
  • Use memory tools such as big calendars, to-do lists, and notes to yourself.
  • Put your wallet or purse, keys, and glasses in the same place each day.
  • Get lots of rest.
  • Exercise and eat well.
  • Don’t drink a lot of alcohol.

Get help if you feel depressed for weeks at

Choosing Healthy Meals As You Get Older

Making healthy food choices is a smart thing to do — no matter how old you are! Your body changes through your 60s, 70s, 80s, and beyond. Food provides nutrients you need as you age. Use these tips to choose foods and beverages for better health at each stage of life.

Read and share this infographic to get information and tips about living longer and healthier.

  1. Drink plenty of liquids

With age, you may lose some of your sense of thirst. Drink water often. Low-fat or fat-free milk or 100% juice also helps you stay hydrated. Limit beverages that have lots of added sugars or salt. Learn which liquids are healthier choices.

  1. Make eating a social event

Meals are more enjoyable when you eat with others. Invite a friend to join you or take part in a potluck at least twice a week. A senior center or place of worship may offer meals that are shared with others. There are many ways to make mealtimes pleasing.

Social Events during COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic, make sure any activities you plan follow CDC guidelines. Instead of having a meal at a senior center or place of worship, consider hosting a virtual dinner party or joining an online cooking class.

  1. Plan healthy meals

Read and share this infographic to learn about making smart food choices for healthy aging.

Find trusted nutrition information from ChooseMyPlate.gov and the National Institute on Aging. Get advice on what to eathow much to eat, and which foods to choose, all based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Find sensible, flexible ways to choose and prepare tasty meals so you can eat foods you need.

  1. Know how much to eat

Learn to recognize how much to eat so you can control portion size. When eating out, pack part of your meal to eat later. One restaurant dish might be enough for two meals or more.

  1. Vary your vegetables

Include a variety of different colored, flavored, and textured vegetables. Most vegetables are a low-calorie source of nutrients. Vegetables are also a good source of fiber.

  1. Eat for your teeth and gums

Read and share this infographic to learn more about lifestyle changes you can make today for healthier aging.

Many people find that their teeth and gums change as they age. People with dental problems sometimes find it hard to chew fruits, vegetables, or meats. Don’t miss out on needed nutrients! Eating softer foods can help. Try cooked or canned foods like unsweetened fruit, low-sodium soups, or canned tuna.

  1. Use herbs and spices

Foods may seem to lose their flavor as you age. If favorite dishes taste different, it may not be the cook! Maybe your sense of smell, sense of taste, or both have changed. Medicines may also change how foods taste. Add flavor to your meals with herbs and spices.

  1. Keep food safe

Don’t take a chance with your health. A food-related illness can be life threatening for an older person. Throw out food that might not be safe. Avoid certain foods that are always risky for an older person, such as unpasteurized dairy foods. Other foods can be harmful to you when they are raw or undercooked, such as eggs, sprouts, fish, shellfish, meat, or poultry.

  1. Read the Nutrition Facts label

Make the right choices when buying food. Pay attention to important nutrients to know as well as calories, fats, sodium, and the rest of the Nutrition Facts label. Ask your doctor if there are ingredients and nutrients you might need to limit or to increase.

  1. Ask your doctor about vitamins or supplements

Food is the best way to get nutrients you need. Should you take vitamins or other pills or powders with herbs and minerals? These are called dietary supplements. Your doctor will know if you need them. More may not be better. Some can interfere with your medicines or affect your medical conditions.

Getting Enough Fluids

It’s important for your body to have plenty of fluids each day. Water helps you digest your food, absorb nutrients from food, and then get rid of the unused waste. Water is found in foods—both solids and liquids, as well as in its natural state.

With age, you might lose some of your sense of thirst. To further complicate matters, some medicines might make it even more important to have plenty of fluids.

Remember, water is a good way to add fluids to your daily routine without adding calories.

Try these tips for getting enough fluids:

  • Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink water or other fluids.
  • Take sips of water, milk, or juice between bites during meals.
  • Add liquids throughout the day.
  • Have a cup of low-fat soup as an afternoon snack.
  • Drink a full glass of water when you take a pill.
  • Have a glass of water before you exercise.
  • Drink fat-free or low-fat milk, or other drinks without added sugars.
  • If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so sensibly and in moderation. That means up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks for men.
  • Don’t stop drinking liquids if you have a urinary control problem. Talk with your doctor about treatment.

CINTAA Elder care shares useful information regarding healthcare on weekly basis. The post is only for information purpose only. Please check with your health care professional before using this information. To keep yourself updated with many other health tips, stay with us. We provide certified caregivers for seniors at home. If you need any help regarding eldercare, please feel free to call us today at 561-963-1915.

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