Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of long-term disability.
As a family caregiver, it is critical that you understand not just the importance of getting your elderly loved one the medical care that they need following a stroke, but also what you can do to help them if you notice the early warning signs of this type of emergency medical event.
You may have heard the acronym often used by the Stroke Association to describe the early warning signs of a stroke.
Written as “F.A.S.T.”, this actually contains the three primary early warning signs and the most important instruction for what you should do if you notice these signs in your aging parent. The first three letters of the acronym refer to the three early warning signs of stroke, which are facial drooping, arm weakness, and speech difficulties. If you think that you are noticing these symptoms in your elderly parent, there are ways that you can check them. Ask your parent to smile to check if their smile is lopsided. Ask them to lift both arms and note if one is drifting down. Have them repeat a simple statement so that you can check if they are coherent and not slurring.
The fourth letter of the acronym is an instruction for what you should do if you notice these symptoms in your parent. “T” in “F.A.S.T.” stands for “time to call 911”. This is because every second counts when it comes to getting your parent the care that they need after suffering a stroke. When your parent suffers a stroke, blood flow to the brain is cut off, depriving it of the oxygen that it needs. When this happens, brain cells begin to die. The more brain cells that die, the more pronounced the effects of the stroke.
It is very important to note that if you are unsure of the severity of the symptoms that your aging parent is suffering, or they are showing other symptoms that seem strange, such as sudden confusion, loss of vision in one eye, or sudden dizziness or loss of balance, you should still call 9-1-1. Tell the emergency responders that you think that it is a stroke and tell them when you noticed the onset of the symptoms. This will enable them to give your parent the care that they need as soon as possible.
Starting home care for your elderly loved one can be an exceptional way to help your parent achieve and maintain a better quality of life as they age in place. By creating a schedule that is customized not just to your elderly loved one’s needs and challenges, but also to their individuality, goals, thoughts, and preferences, this care provider can help your parent to have the lifestyle that is right for them.
An in-home senior care services provider can give your parent a highly personalized set of services tailored to helping them stay safe, healthy, comfortable, and secure, while also encouraging them to remain as independent, active, and engaged as possible.
This can include encouraging them to make good lifestyle choices such as eating a healthy, balanced diet, providing safe and reliable transportation to where they need and want to go, and supporting their participation in physical activities that they enjoy and that will help them to maintain better health.
This care provider can also provide companionship and support to encourage better mental and emotional health and well-being throughout their later years, as well as reminders to help them remain compliant with their doctor’s instructions as they either work to reduce their risk of stroke or work toward recovery.