Strokes affect nearly 1 million Americans every year, 75 percent of which occur in people over the age of 65. Post-stroke care for the elderly is important because 40 percent of people who experience a stroke have a recurrence within five years. While you cannot prevent loved ones from actually experiencing a stroke, you can ensure that they have access to immediate treatment which, according to the American Stroke Association, “may minimize the long-term effects of a stroke and prevent death.” Where it concerns stroke in elderly patients, swift action can greatly affect their long-term prognosis.
A recent Australian study found that “stroke patients gained about two days of healthy life for every minute spared between the onset of their stroke and when they first received treatment, on average.” And most doctors agree that if treatment for stroke occurs within a 3 to 4 hour window of the attack, the likelihood of a comprehensive recovery is much higher.
If you think a loved one may be at risk of experiencing a stroke, here are some ways to ensure that they’ll be able to get the help they need to make a successful recovery.
Know the Signs
The first line of defense against the unknown is education. Here are signs and symptoms of an oncoming stroke:
- Numbness, weakness or tingling in the face, arm or leg–specifically on one side of the body
- Changes in vision, including double vision, blurred vision or loss of vision in one or both eyes
- Dizziness and loss of balance
- Difficulty with speech or inability understand when being spoken to
- Difficulty swallowing
- Confusion; Problems with judgment, memory, spatial orientation or perception
- Loss of coordination or consciousness
- Drowsiness or lack of energy
- Visible mood swings
- Severe, sudden headache, paired with pain between the eyes, in the face or a stiff neck, and vomiting or altered consciousness
The important thing to remember about strokes is that many of the symptoms are relatively sudden. If you or a loved one have experienced any of the above symptoms for a prolonged period of time, we recommend following up with a physician as it may be a sign of another health issue. Having the ability to recognize these symptoms as they occur will save you precious time and allow you to get your loved one to the hospital to seek treatment.
Invest in a Medical Alert Device
Even if you are aware of the symptoms, it’s simply not possible to spend every minute with your loved one. If they are alone when an attack occurs, they might not have the ability to call for help. In this case, a medical alert device can become the difference between life and death.
Medical Guardian recently launched a new product line that includes Fall Alert, a medical alert device with automatic fall detection. Fall detection technology is able to identify when a fall has occurred and triggers the call for help without having to push a button. Help can still be alerted with a manual press of the button around their neck, connecting your loved one with an emergency operator within seconds. With 24/7 monitoring services, Medical Guardian is guaranteed to be there for you and your family, day or night.
If you are with someone who is experiencing symptoms of a stroke, it’s important to take notes on several pieces of information that could be critical to doctors later on. First, make sure to record the time that the symptoms first started to occur. This will be vitally helpful to doctors as they are considering treatment options for your loved one.
Next, be sure to write down which medications your loved one is taking, along with the dosage. This information will also be critical for how doctors choose to treat the stroke once you arrive at the hospital. It’s also imperative that you refrain from giving aspirin to someone who may be experiencing a stroke as it can make internal bleeding worse.
The important thing to remember here is that a stroke does not have to be a death sentence. If caught and treated in time, people who experience a stroke can make a full recovery.
Do you have all of your information down in one place? Tell us in the comments below.
About the Author:
Hilary Young is the Communications Manager for Medical Guardian. She helps to keep baby boomers and their loved ones educated about their health and wellbeing. She is also a regular contributor to the Medical Guardian Blog, the Huffington Post, and BlogHer.com.
For more information, please review our Stroke Resources.