What Is a Stroke?
Strokes are the leading cause of adult disability and the fifth leading cause of death. In the U.S., a stroke occurs every 40 seconds.
Strokes are brain attacks caused by too little or too much blood flow to the brain. Risk factors for strokes include: hypertension, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, drug and alcohol use and a sedentary lifestyle.
There are three main types of strokes (see list below). All are dangerous and need to be treated as quickly as possible to minimize brain damage.
Cerebrovascular Accident (CVA):
This type of stroke generally occurs in those over 60 and is normally caused when a clot forms in a narrowed artery in the brain and blocks the flow of blood to a certain area of the brain. Without sufficient oxygen, brain cells can die within seconds and the functions controlled by the affected section of the brain may be permanently damaged. The most common results of a CVA stroke are loss of muscle control and memory.
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA):
This type of stroke, sometimes called a mini-stroke, is caused by a temporary blood clot. TIA symptoms occur rapidly and most last less than five minutes; the average length is one minute. No permanent damage occurs with a TIA but this is often an early warning sign of a future stroke. In fact, one-third of individuals who experience a TIA will have a more severe stroke within one year. Anyone can experience a TIA but the risk increases with age.
This type of stroke is caused by bleeding in the brain that creates pressure on surrounding brain tissue.
Once a stroke occurs, the speed of recovery will depend on many factors such as how much of the brain was affected, where in the brain the stroke occurred, the individual’s prior health and the quality of care they receive during the healing process. Recovery time varies from individual to individual and can last anywhere from 3-4 months to 1-2 years.
Warning Signs of a Stroke
Warning signs may occur prior to a stroke and it is important to be able to recognize them so that you can seek medical treatment quickly and reduce the risk of permanent damage.
Warning signs can include:
- Sudden numbness, tingling or weakness on one side of the face, arms or legs
- Sudden trouble speaking
- Sudden changes in vision
- Sudden confusion
- Sudden trouble understanding simple statements
- Sudden problems with walking or balance
- A sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches
Service Offered By Our Stroke Care Aides
Individuals who have had a stroke are at high risk of having another stroke, particularly if they do not properly follow the treatment recommendations of their physician. This means that the quality of care they receive during the recovery process is critical.
If you are unable to be with your loved one at all times during this period, you may want to consider hiring a Neighbors aide to ensure that your loved one is following their doctor’s instructions properly and taking their medications on time. Our aides will also quickly alert you to any areas of concern in order to prevent complications.
Our aides will:
- Watch for signs of dizziness, imbalance, difficulty walking or moving around, inability to walk six minutes without a rest or increased need for help with daily activities as these may indicate the need for physical or occupational therapy.
- Alert you to signs of depression which happen in 30%-50% of all stroke patients.
- Report any fall that results in severe pain, bruising or bleeding as this may indicate a need for medical treatment.
- Report repeated minor falls, even if there are no signs of injury, as these could also indicate a need for concern.
- Ensure that your loved one eats healthy meals regularly.
- Take your loved one on walks or ensure that they exercise regularly.
- Ensure they take medications as prescribed.
- Ensure that they schedule regular appointments with their doctors and accompany them on those visits.
- Make them feel at ease and loved throughout the recovery process.
- Recommend ways to make the home safer.
Our aides will provide companionship for your loved one and help with:
- Personal grooming
- Coordinating and escorting them to health care appointments
- Coordinating and escorting them to stroke rehabilitation appointments
- Light physical therapy exercises
- Laundry and ironing
- Shopping and running errands