A few days ago you were having lunch with your elderly mother at a restaurant when she suddenly got dizzy, felt one side of her face go numb and then couldn’t speak for a few minutes. After rushing mom to the nearest hospital for some tests, she was fine, and later it was like nothing ever happened. Afterwards, the doctor explained that your mother had experienced a mini stroke, or transient ischemic attack (TIA). Since mom still lives alone, the topic of mini strokes has aroused your curiosity. Here’s how mini strokes can affect the health of seniors.
A transient ischemic attack, or TIA for short, is a miniature version of a stroke that shares the same symptoms, but these mini strokes only last for a few minutes and don’t cause permanent damage like a stroke can. Unfortunately, roughly one-third of all seniors who experience a mini stroke eventually suffer a full-blown stroke within the next few years- sometimes in a matter of hours or days.
According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of a TIA include:
- Blindness in one or both eyes, or double vision
- Dizziness or loss of balance and coordination
- Weakness, paralysis or numbness that affects an arm, leg or face, typically only on one side of the body
- Slurred or garbled speech, or trouble understanding others
- A sudden, severe headache for no apparent reason
An individual can have more than one TIA with the same symptoms or different symptoms depending upon which area of the brain is affected.
The Risk Factors Associated with Mini Strokes (TIA)
These are all risk factors for a stroke or mini stroke:
- Family history
- Prior TIA
- Sickle Cell Anemia
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Being overweight
- Cardiovascular disease
- Peripheral artery or carotid artery disease
Other lifestyle choices that place someone at higher risk for a stroke or TIA include smoking cigarettes, physical inactivity, illicit drug use, drinking alcohol to excess and poor nutrition.
Stroke Prevention Tips for Seniors
Using your mom as an example, it’s so important for her to engage in healthier behaviors so that she doesn’t suffer a serious stroke and permanent disability, such as:
Consult with a registered dietitian and then help mom devise a nutritious diet program that limits her sugar, sodium and saturated fat intake, especially if she has high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol or diabetes. Eating foods that contain the essential vitamins, minerals and fiber that a senior’s body needs benefits them in so many ways, including stroke prevention.
Inactivity and being overweight are also stroke risk factors, so encourage your mother to work out regularly through Yoga, swimming, water aerobics or walking. In addition to lowering her stroke risk, regular exercise helps reduce stress, speed up healing, improve balance and coordination, promote restful sleep and boost self-esteem. Losing weight through diet and exercise can also help lower harmful cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Many seniors don’t take their medications as prescribed, and that’s a real problem for someone who’s already had a mini stroke. Whether it’s for diabetes, blood pressure or high cholesterol, help your mom stay medication compliant. Another medication management tip is making sure her prescriptions are being filled and picked up on time.
Other Lifestyle Changes
If your mother drinks alcohol, talk to her about doing so in moderation. For women that’s one drink per day, and for men two drinks a day. If she still likes to sneak a daily cigarette or two, discuss the importance of not smoking. Joining a stroke-related support group is also a great way for mom to socialize and learn new habits that can help keep her safer as the days go by!
In-Home Caregivers that Practice Stroke Prevention
Helping an aging senior maintain their freedom and independence can be hard when you have your own household to manage or live far away. When you need a hand, contact First In Care. We are a fully licensed and insured home care and home healthcare agency with highly trained caregivers that can deliver in-home services including companion care, personal care and even skilled nursing care.
Our carefully screened team members also understand the importance of stroke prevention, especially for seniors who’ve already had mini strokes (TIA). And, our caregiving professionals always use a unique approach that’s designed to improve the quality of life for the seniors and families we serve. To learn more about First In Care today, or to schedule a FREE initial assessment for a senior in Manatee County, FL, now, please visit us at: www.firstincare.com!