Strokes can be frightening; the mere mention can make elderly people apprehensive about how they might be cared for if they suffer one, or even if the stroke will be so severe that they won’t be able to recover enough from it to regain their independence.  Although not the sole preserve of the over 60s, the risk of having a stroke does double with every decade over the age of 55.  However strokes don’t need to be the end of the world.  A combination of prevention, knowing how to spot the signs, and tips for recovery will all serve to arm you with the knowledge you need to cope with the condition.

Strokes are caused by a lack of blood flow to the brain, which occurs when the arteries are blocked.  Just as smoking and a diet high in saturated fat can cause heart attacks, that same narrowing and clogging of the arteries elsewhere can cause a stroke.  Moderate exercise and a balanced diet will help keep you healthy and reduce the risk, and in combination with keeping your brain active, will help to give you the confidence to make a full recovery if you do suffer illness.

If you suffer a moderate to severe stroke, you will have problems with movement, speech, memory, and will need extensive medical and physiotherapy to make a full recovery.  Some strokes are so mild that the victim is unaware that they’ve happened.  These transient ischemic attacks or TIA’s, can manifest as temporary vagueness or loss of sensation, and shouldn’t be ignored as they can be an indicator of a bigger stroke to come.  Most strokes are of the ischemic variety, and vary in severity, although strokes can also take the form of a blood vessel rupturing, known as a hemorrhagic stroke.

The most important factor in recovery is the speed with which medical treatment can be administered.  It’s quite likely that the person having the stroke will not realize anything is wrong, since their ability to recognize that something is wrong will have been compromised by the effects, so the more education about the signs of stroke that can be given, the better.  Look out for trouble walking, trouble speaking, and muscle weakness, and don’t hesitate to call for medical help at once.  There’s a relatively small window in which drug treatment can be effective after the stroke has happened, and since proper hospital assessment is necessary to determine which course of action to take, the patient should be at hospital within an hour of the attack to benefit from drug treatment to disperse any blood clots.

Once the immediate danger is passed, the patient will be assessed for physiotherapy for any movement loss, and memory and speech therapy to help with regaining language.  The road to recovery is a long one, and any exercises given will be hard, tiring, and often continue long after the stroke patient has been discharged from hospital, and even back to relatively independent living.  However, with diligent therapy, a good recovery is possible even for relatively severe stroke in the elderly.  It’s worth noting that as with any major health event, emotional recovery can take longer than that for any physical symptoms.  Counseling can help, as can joining a stroke survivors group, so that you can be reassured that your experiences are quite normal, and that you’re not alone.

Need more information? Speak with the team at HomeAide Home Care in Hayward, CA.