It’s late in the evening when your elderly father calls complaining about a sudden headache when he moves, and his speech is slurred and he sounds confused. Is he just tired? A bad day? Or is this something much more serious?

There’s a chance he’s having a stroke and doesn’t know it.

May is Stroke Awareness Month and for many of those caring for seniors, recognizing early symptoms can be a matter of life and death. Stroke accounts for almost 10% of the 50 million deaths worldwide annually, with the number climbing if the trends keep going in the wrong direction.

A stroke occurs when blood flow and the oxygen it provides to the brain is stopped, and that can show up in a variety of ways. Depending on what area of the brain this happens, the symptoms will vary and the victim may not even know it’s happening to them.

The best defence against letting a loved one become a statistic is early recognition of symptoms. There are several things to watch out for with the body’s responses that may be a warning sign:

  • Face — When he or she smiles, does one side of the face droop?
  • Arms — Can he or she raise both arms without one drifting downward?
  • Speech — Is there a pronounced slur when he or she speaks?

If those symptoms are prevalent, seek immediate medical attention. Be mindful, however, that there may be other warning signs that are more difficult to identify. These could include a sudden headache that worsens upon movement, changing positions or coughing. There can be sudden sleepiness or complete unconsciousness, numbness or tingling on one side of the body or a loss of senses such as difficulty hearing, tasting, seeing or feeling pain. Confusion or memory loss is another common sign, as well as dizziness, vertigo or loss of balance.

Exercise, a healthy balanced diet, limiting use of alcohol, quitting smoking and a healthy state of mind can all help reduce the chances of suffering a stroke. In fact 80% of strokes can be prevented with a few changes in life style.

Embracing a healthier way of life is a matter of choice for most of us, but in aging seniors with limited mobility and social connections, this can be a daunting objective. This is where Home Care Assistance Calgary can help. Our caregivers are specifically trained in our proprietary Balanced-Care Approach and can offer the support your aging parents need to live their best life — active, happy and healthy in their own home.

If your loved one does suffer a health set back, we can be there when you are not. Our caregivers are well trained to respond in times of crisis and to help through the recovery process.

To get more information on our services, contact Home Care Assistance Calgary at 403-301-3777.

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