The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. Worse than that, ever 4 minutes someone dies because of a stroke. These statistics show that stroke is a very real and dangerous threat to older adults. If your parent has not been assessed for stroke risk lately, knowing the risk factors can help you to start a conversation with them and with their doctor.
How Does a Stroke Happen?
Strokes happen in one of two ways. They are classified according to what causes them. The two types of stroke are:
Ischemic Stroke: This kind of stroke happens when an artery that carries blood to the brain becomes blocked. Blood flow to the brain is restricted. Ischemic strokes account for about 80 percent of all strokes.
Hemorrhagic Stroke: The brain contains lots of blood vessels. When one of them breaks and leaks blood, it is called a hemorrhagic stroke. These kinds of strokes can happen because of uncontrolled high blood pressure, overuse of blood thinners, and aneurysms.
In addition to these two types of strokes, a person can also suffer a transient ischemic attack (TIA), or “mini-stroke.” The symptoms of this kind of stroke last only for a short time and resolve themselves. However, this does not mean you can ignore a TIA. On the contrary, it is a warning sign that a more severe stroke is imminent.
Risk Factors for Stroke
There are many factors that can increase your parent’s risk of having a stroke. Some of them are things that cannot be changed, like age. However, many risk factors for stroke are things that older adults can make changes to control, such as:
High Blood Pressure: Make sure your parent has their blood pressure checked regularly. If it is high, they should follow the doctor’s advice for getting it under control, such as taking their medication and reducing sodium intake.
Obesity: Being overweight is a risk factor for many diseases, including stroke. If your aging relative is overweight, help them try to achieve a healthy weight.
Lack of Exercise: The Mayo Clinic lists inactivity as one of the lifestyle factors that can lead to stroke. Not getting enough exercise can be one of the causes of obesity, so getting in some exercise can help your parent to lose weight, too, helping them to reduce two risk factors at the same time.
Diet: The American Heart Association recommends a diet that contains at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. In addition, they say to avoid saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, and excess sodium.
A senior care provider can help your parent to work on all these risk factors. A senior care provider can remind them when it is time to take blood pressure medication. They can also help your parent to be more physically active by taking walks with them, involving them in activities around the house, and driving them to fitness classes. Finally, a senior care provider can prepare healthy meals that may also help your parent to lose excess weight.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering Caregiver in Glenview, IL, call the caring staff at LifeCare Home Health & In-Home Services. Call (888) 606-4199 LifeCare serves all of the Chicago Metro Area.
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