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Essential Facts for Stroke Caregivers
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Essential Facts for Stroke Caregivers

March 22, 2016

Someone has a stroke every 45 seconds. According to the CDC, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in America today.

It’s important for everyone – especially senior caregivers – to know the facts about stroke. Studies show many people don’t know why strokes happen or what to do when they happen. Myths and misinformation surround the disease.

How much do you know about stroke? You can test your stroke IQ with this simple quiz.
Senior Woman at the doctor's office
Q: What is a stroke?
Answer: Sometimes called a “brain emergency” or “brain attack”, stroke happens when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked or bursts. Part of the brain begins to die when it can’t get oxygen. This can disable a person quickly.

Q: What makes someone more likely to have a stroke?
Answer: High blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, and being overweight are risk factors. Family history also plays an important role.

Q: Are all strokes the same?
Answer: There are three main types of stroke, according to the American Heart Association:

  • Ischemic stroke, which is caused by blood clots.
  • Hemorrhagic stroke, which results from ruptured blood vessels and brain bleeding.
  • Transient ischemic attacks (TIA) are the most common. Also called a “mini-strokes,” these are caused by a temporary blood clot.

Q: What are the lasting effects of a stroke?
Answer: Every stroke is unique, but most tend to affect seniors in similar ways. The most common results are paralysis, numbness, or weakness on one side of the body. Stroke can cause speech issues, trouble swallowing, incontinence, and vision problems. Many stroke survivors struggle with depression.

Q: Do only older people have strokes?

Answer: Stroke is more common with age, but can occur at any time. In fact, one-quarter affect younger baby boomers under age 65.

Q: How do I know if someone is having a stroke?

Answer: Stroke warning signs and symptoms include:

  • Numbness or weakness of face, arm, or leg
  • Confusion, trouble speaking
  • Loss of vision in one or both eye
  • Loss of balance, dropping things, difficulty walking
  • Sudden headache with no other known cause

If you see a loved one experiencing any of the above symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Q: Can stroke be treated?
Answer: The faster a senior gets help, the better their chances for a full recovery. Note the time of the first symptom and call an ambulance immediately. Medications and surgery are two common emergency treatments that limit brain damage. Long-term stroke care focuses on helping seniors regain strength and recover as much function as possible to return to independent living, says Mayo Clinic. Many stroke survivors get specialized care that combines physical, occupational, and recreational therapy at a rehabilitation center.

Because stroke is the number one cause of adult disability, every caregiver needs to know how to protect seniors. By learning about stroke risk factors and symptoms, you could save an older adult’s life.

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