As the person responsible for the elderly care of an aging parent or loved one, you are surely aware of all of the possible medical crises that can occur. It is important, though, to know the signs and symptoms of each individual problem, so that you can take the correct action as quickly as possible.
One of the medical emergencies that requires the quickest action on your part is a stroke. A stroke occurs when the blood flow is cut off to a certain part of the brain. The longer the blood flow is blocked, the more brain cells die, and the more damage is caused. In the United States, a stroke happens every forty seconds, and stroke is one of the top five leading causes of death in the country.
Immediate action is imperative in order to save the brain, so it is important to keep an eye out for the following symptoms, which you can remember with the acronym F.A.S.T.
Signs of a Stroke
F – Face drooping – If one side of your aging loved one’s face seems to be hanging lower than the other, this could be a sign that they are suffering the effects of a stroke. Try having them smile, as this could be a better indicator of the difference in facial drooping. If the smile is lopsided or hangs lower on one side than on the other, it is time to take action.
A – Arm Weakness – Many minor strokes present themselves as only a sudden weakness in the arms or legs. This weakness may feel like just that, or it might feel like a numbness that spreads along the arm. Ask your loved one to lift both arms into the air. If one of them is difficult to hold upright, and begins to sink back down, this could be a sign that the signals aren’t flowing correctly between the brain and the arm.
S – Speech Problems – Slurred speech or difficulty saying words can be another telltale sign of a stroke. Try to have your loved one say a normal, everyday sentence. If they have trouble getting the words out, or their speech sounds sluggish or slurred, this means that something is very wrong, and should be attended to immediately.
T – Time – This last one isn’t a symptom, it is an imperative. Time is of the essence when dealing with a stroke, as time saved is brain saved. If you notice any of the above symptoms, call 911 immediately. Do not hesitate, and do not wait. Tell the 911 operator that you suspect that your loved one is suffering from a stroke, as this may urge them to do all they can to get someone there faster, because they know how important it is to treat a stroke as soon as possible.
If you suspect that your elderly loved one might be having a stroke, don’t waste any time in calling for help, and always remember to think F.A.S.T.!