If you are caring for someone, the sooner you recognise any medical conditions and get treatment, the better. Robin Dynes provides useful advice in his latest article…
Although the person you are caring for may have some memory problems or mobility difficulties, they may otherwise appear reasonably healthy. But, as we grow older, we all become more vulnerable to medical conditions. This may not happen suddenly, but instead have a stealthy onset. The sooner you recognise these conditions and get treatment for your loved one the better. It is very easy, in a busy life, caring for your family and an elderly relative to miss early signs. The basic information below does not replace medical advice but is intended to help you spot the onset of some common conditions at an early stage and take preventative action.
Many people visualise having a stroke with a picture of it happening suddenly. The person stops speaking or moving, falls down, their face may distort on one side and they may lose the use of an arm and leg on one side. This type of stroke is caused by a blood clot which prevents blood reaching part of the brain.
This is not always the case. Often a stroke can be so mild that it can go unnoticed. The person may complain of an intense headache which is not helped by normal painkillers. They may start to move slowly, slur their words and be unable to understand what you say. Possibly they may vomit. Or the stroke may be so mild that they just say they feel tired or dizzy, that their arm or leg feels heavy, they have tingling or pins and needles in a limb. This type of stroke may be caused by a bleed in the brain.
Other indications can include:
- Sudden loss or blurring of vision
- Problems with balance or co-ordination
- Difficulty swallowing
- Loss of consciousness
Sometimes the characteristics may last only a few minutes or a short time before disappearing. Also, be aware that these symptoms can also have causes other than a stroke.
What to do
People who experience a mild or mini stroke, may recover completely or retain some minor impairments. Even through the symptoms disappear quickly you should not ignore them. It is an indication that something could be wrong with the blood supply to the person’s brain and puts them at increased risk of having a more severe stroke in the future.
If you suspect your loved one has had a mini stroke contact your GP or out of hours service as soon as possible. If the symptoms indicate that they are actually having a stroke, phone 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance. Prompt treatment is essential to improve the chances of recovery.
For further information visit The Stroke Association website www.stroke.org.uk