Statistics show that 25 percent of people who suffer a stroke go on to have another. But, according to the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association, 80 percent of second strokes that are clot-related can be prevented. If your parent has had a stroke, May is the month to pay even greater attention to ways you can keep them having another because this month is National Stroke Awareness Month.
The Difficulty of Spotting a Second Stroke
First, it’s important to know the basic warning signs of a stroke. One way to remember them is to use the acronym FAST, which stands for:
- Face: Ask the senior to smile and see if one side of their face sags.
- Arms: Have them raise both arms and see if one arm drifts down.
- Speech: Listen for speech that is slurred or sounds different.
- Time: If any of the above symptoms is present, it’s time to call 911.
But, even when you know these signs, it can be hard to spot a stroke in someone who is already impaired from a previous stroke. For example, if your parent’s face already droops or if they have trouble speaking, it may be difficult to notice any changes.
The best way to notice changes is to familiarize yourself with what is “normal” for your parent now. One way to do this is to ask the doctor for an assessment of their current abilities. The doctor can refer your parent to occupational, physical, and speech therapists to complete the assessment. This will give you a baseline to recognize changes.
How to Prevent a Second Stroke
Preventing your parent from having a second stroke involves making certain lifestyle changes, such as:
- Managing Blood Pressure and Cholesterol: Follow the doctor’s advice for keeping your parent’s blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control.
- Quit Smoking: If your parent smokes, it is extremely important that they quit.
- Physical Activity: Engaging in daily physical activity lowers the risk of a second stroke. Any kind of physical activity counts, including walking, gardening, and swimming.
- Take Medications: After your parent’s first stroke, the doctor probably prescribed medications to prevent another. Make sure your parent takes the medications according to the doctor’s instructions.
Hiring an elderly care provider can also help reduce your parent’s risk of having another stroke. An elderly care provider can cook healthy, balanced meals that will help with controlling cholesterol and blood pressure as well as improving overall health. Elderly care providers can also remind your parent to take their medications and encourage them to be more physically active.
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