While strokes can occur in people of all ages, the risk of stroke does increase with age. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emphasize that immediate action be taken as soon as you recognize a stroke occurring, so here are the early signs of stroke to take note of in your aging parent.
During a stroke, one may feel a sudden sense of numbness in their face. They might also lose sensation in their extremities, such as their hands, feet, legs and arms. The numbness might manifest as a tingling feeling. It is common for strokes to cause asymmetrical numbness, with only one part of the body affected while the other remains completely functional. Someone with numbness might be constantly touching, shaking or massaging the numb areas of their body.
During a stroke, a person one may lose their ability to understand what is happening around them or to think clearly. If your parent looks confused, or seems like they have a hard time focusing or making decisions, this is something you want to be wary of.
A sign closely related to confusion, difficulty understanding language, speech, or numbers can be a warning sign of stroke. Keep a lookout for your parent’s body language – are they wrinkling their eyebrows or shaking their head? Perhaps they are talking less or seem to be feeling unsteady.
If your parent has no personal history of headaches, it can be a cause of concern if they suddenly begin to experience sudden and severe aches in their head, neck or scalp. You may notice your parent rubbing their temples or touching their head; they might also appear sensitive to light.
Loss of Balance
If you notice your parent suddenly acting clumsy, tripping over nothing or wobbling about and attempting to steady themselves, this could be a sign that they are experiencing a loss of balance. They may have difficulty with walking and standing, or with moving at all.
Loss of Coordination
Related to this is a loss of coordination; the symptoms will be similar to that of balance loss.
If your parent seems to be moving unsteadily or holding their head, they may be experiencing dizziness.
Your parent might start to have trouble with their eyesight in one or both of their eyes. They might also be experiencing blurred vision. Take note if you see them rubbing their eyes often, squinting, or appearing to have difficulty reading.
Slurred or incoherent speech, an incorrect use of words, or a total inability to speak should be a cause for concern. You may be unable to understand what your parent is saying and find that conversing with them is difficult.
Your parent may seem to experience a lack of strength in their body parts, especially their arm, leg or face. You may notice that one side of their face seems to be drooping, or that they constantly want to sit or lie down. They may also have difficulty accomplishing simple tasks.
It is possible to lower your parent’s risk of stroke by encouraging them to keep healthy habits that lower stroke risk, such as aquarobics. If you notice any of the signs above, it is imperative that you contact medical professionals immediately.