Ageing is an inevitable process and is bound to make us vulnerable and more prone to health issues. One of the most common health risks that seniors face is stroke. With medical science advancing in leaps and bounds, the average human lifespan continues to grow at an equally astonishing rate. But with more and more individuals enjoying a high quality of life well into their 80s and 90s, the number of elderly people at risk for stroke is rapidly growing as well.

With the emphasis on elderly care and the number of health problems surrounding older adults, it is important to know and understand that the risks of stroke increase with age. Stroke is among the top leading causes of disability and reduced quality of life and it has also been estimated that the chance of having a stroke doubles every decade after the age of 55. While these statistics are certainly scary, the good news is that stroke is preventable.

There are many positive steps that you can take now to reduce your risk of stroke, but for that, it is important to first be aware of the risk factors. Let’s take a look.

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • High cholesterol
  • Drug abuse

Apart from these, there are risk factors that you can’t control, which include: age, gender, genetics and family history.

A stroke is serious, just like a heart attack, so it's important to know the signs and symptoms of a stroke and act quickly if you suspect someone is having one.

  • Sudden numbness of weakness in the face, arm or leg – especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden problems with vision in one or both the eyes
  • Sudden dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Trouble walking
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Other danger signs that may occur include double vision, drowsiness, and nausea or vomiting.

Like they say, ‘Prevention is better than cure’. Therefore, let’s take a look at how you can prevent your senior loved one from a stroke.

  1. Regular Medical Check-ups

Risk factors such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and elevated blood cholesterol must be monitored by your physician on a regular basis. These risk factors can be changed or, at minimum, controlled by proper medical treatment and appropriate diet and lifestyle modifications.

  1. Control Blood Pressure

High blood pressure or hypertension is the single most important risk factor for stroke. Even mild hypertension, if not adequately treated, increases stroke risk. In general, blood pressure should be below 120/80. Hypertension is often called the ‘silent killer’ because there may be no obvious symptoms. It is important to check your blood pressure regularly. Remember: medication to control hypertension is effective only if taken on a regular basis, so it is important to follow your physician's instructions.

  1. Stop Smoking

If your senior loved one has a habit of smoking, encourage them to reduce it and eventually put a stop to it. Studies have confirmed that smokers have a higher risk of stroke, regardless of other factors such as age, high blood pressure, or heart disease. The risk declines dramatically within a few years of kicking the habit.

  1. Improve Diet

Consumption of foods high in fat, cholesterol and salt increases the risk for stroke. The following recommendations are among the most important for stroke prevention. Dietary fat and cholesterol may be reduced by limiting fat or oil added in cooking, trimming fat and skin from meats and poultry, using low-fat or non-fat dairy products, broiling and baking foods rather than frying, and limiting eggs to no more than three a week. In addition, excess sodium is also linked to hypertension. There is also "hidden" salt in most processed and canned foods. Therefore, try to eat fresh food whenever possible.

  1. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight strains the heart and blood vessels and is associated with high blood pressure. Obesity also predisposes a person to heart disease and diabetes, both of which increase the risk for stroke. Keeping your weight to recommended levels for your height and build is a prudent preventive measure.

  1. Exercise Regularly

Try to make physical activity a part of your everyday life. Do things you like; for example, take a brisk walk, ride a bicycle, or go swimming. Talk with your healthcare provider if you haven't been exercising and you want to start a vigorous program or increase your physical activity. 

  1. Reduce Stress

Because stress may increase blood pressure, it is linked indirectly to stroke risk. A one-time stressful event rarely causes a stroke, but long-term unresolved stress can contribute to high blood pressure. Stress management, including relaxation techniques, exercise and counselling, appear to be useful in the treatment of high blood pressure, thus lowering the risk of stroke.

The bottom line is that strokes are increasingly common as we age. They can be fatal but more often are not; however, they can leave us disabled for the remainder of our lives. As elderly caregivers, we want to provide quality senior citizen care to our loved ones and preventing health issues like strokes is the best place to start. Encourage older adults to follow these preventive tips, so that you and your senior loved ones can live a quality life.

Author's Bio: 

The author of this article is a professional having years of experience in the field of Digital Marketing and currently associated with Proxgy. The author is an expert in writing on virtual travel, online video shopping and Digital marketing topics.