Seniors need regular exercises for coordination and balance.
We all know how beneficial regular exercise is. And as caregivers, we should practice preventive measures to keep them healthy and safe.
With the holidays coming, it’s easy to forget these things.
It’s a special time when we get to gather with friends and family. And because restrictions are easing up, we’re all excited to celebrate with the people we love.
All the festivities can also mean higher stroke rates, especially with the seniors in the household.
So today I will share some tips about stroke prevention and exercises for coordination and balance for elders.
Holidays are jam-packed with family, gifts, and food. Unfortunately, most stroke cases also happen during this time.
Almost 800,000 strokes occur in the United States each year alone. And there are certain factors that influence these numbers.
A person’s age, health condition, and even the season can affect the chances of stroke.
Let’s look at the most common ones.
38% of the population says their stress levels increase during the holidays according to the American Psychological Association.
Most people also feel the financial stress caused by holiday spending.
Debra Kissen, the co-chair of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, says the “happiness trap” caused this.
The holiday season comes with the pressure of joy and happiness. Most are expected to share moments with family and friends.
Unfortunately, not everyone has the Hallmark version of family.
We all have issues and struggles to face. And sometimes, family gatherings trigger the worst in us.
It’s no wonder why strokes happen the highest during this season.
The stress caused by the season can elevate heart rates, increase blood pressure, and encourage unhealthy behaviors in us.
Stressors like family responsibilities, work pressures, and even our stress responses can trigger heart attacks and strokes.
So the best thing to do is to manage our expectations and stress responses as well.
What would a celebration be without wine and beer?
Yet, it is a dangerous activity affecting many of our elderly.
Alcohol is the most often used substance among adults aged 65 and up. The problem is, our bodies don’t handle alcohol as well as we grow older.
Alcohol abuse in the elderly is also frequently unnoticed, unreported, and untreated.
Drinking too much over long periods can lower the immune system. It can also cause liver damage, brain damage, and cancer.
It worsens health conditions and illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure, and ulcers.
Alcohol can even cause memory loss and mood disorders.
High consumption of alcohol combined with fatty and high caloric meals can also increase strokes in the elderly.
That’s why we should also note the amount of alcohol our loved ones take during the holidays.
Or better yet, try avoiding alcohol altogether.
A few heavy meals are unlikely to cause problems on their own.
But an entire season of high-fat, sugar, and high-cholesterol eating can put the elderly at risk of strokes.
People bond over food. And it’s a challenge to watch what you eat when everyone is having a good time.
Of course, you don’t want to be the party pooper. And it’s difficult to control the urge, especially when your favorites are in front of you.
Overeating can cause several health problems, especially for the elderly with digestion issues.
Large meals can increase the production of norepinephrine, a hormone that raises heart rates and blood pressure.
Fatty food and refined carbs can also raise triglycerides, which increase fat in the blood.
That’s why cardiologists recommend widening food selections during the holidays.
Try replacing high-fat food with leaner cuts. You can also add salads and high-fiber options to the table.
Sleep deprivation is a silent killer. And most people lose sleep preparing for the holidays.
The National Sleep Foundation says the added holiday stress contributes to sleep problems in adults.
Tensions, racing thoughts, and preparations can affect everyone in the household.
It interferes with sleep habits. And this can mess up our circadian rhythm.
The elderly can also feel the anxiety and anticipation of the season.
Rowdy kids and noisy relatives can also disturb their rest times.
And even if we think it’s just a quick period, it can still have an enormous impact on the elderly’s health.
The best way to go is to give your loved ones plenty of room for rest. Encourage lots of power naps and pauses.
And make sure not to overcrowd your schedule so you’ll all have time to recharge.
The hospital is the worst place to be, especially during the holidays.
Unfortunately, more people find themselves in the emergency room this season.
As caregivers, it’s important for us to know how to prevent medical emergencies during this time.
That’s why you also need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of strokes.
Let’s look at the types of strokes and how the body responds to them.
About 87% of stroke cases are ischemic, which means blood flow to the brain is restricted by a blockage.
Ischemic strokes are divided into two: thrombotic and embolic.
A thrombotic stroke happens when a clot forms in the arteries. If clot forms elsewhere, then it’s an embolic stroke.
Ischemic strokes can also happen when plaque builds up in the arteries, causing them to narrow down.
A hemorrhagic stroke happens when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures or leaks. These ruptures are caused by high blood pressure and aneurysms.
Hemorrhagic strokes are divided into two: intracerebral and subarachnoid.
Intracerebral hemorrhage is highly lethal. It happens when a brain artery bursts and floods the surrounding tissue with blood.
This can cause sudden death to the person experiencing it.
Subarachnoid hemorrhage is less lethal but can cause long-term damage to the brain.
Aneurysms happen on the brain surface causing pressure to build up in the skull. This can lead to complications, brain cell damage, and severe disabilities.
It’s necessary to know the signs of a stroke. Every second is vital. And the earlier we respond, the better our chances of survival will be.
The best way to go is to follow the FAST check.
FAST stands for face drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulty, and time.
If you’re suspecting a person of stroke, the first thing to do is ask them to smile.
Check if one side of the face is drooping or uneven.
Then ask the person to raise both arms. If one of the arms falls or shows weakness, they could be suffering from a stroke.
Check if the person’s speech is slurred or if they have trouble speaking. And lastly, call 911 as soon as you confirm all symptoms.
Recently, the acronym has been updated to FASTER.
Some other stroke symptoms include blurry or double vision, intense headaches, vomiting, or altered awareness.
You can also do a quick verbal check by asking the patient to repeat simple sentences like “The sky is blue.”
Here’s a quick video of how to assess if a patient is suffering from a stroke.
A stroke can be a traumatic and taxing experience for anyone. And each year 15 million people suffer from a stroke worldwide.
It can be physically and mentally challenging especially when it happens so suddenly. That’s why we always recommend preventive measures to avoid it.
Read more about the warning signs of geriatric depression here.
Each stroke is different and the severity of symptoms follow a stroke can vary wildly.
But in case our aging parents suffer from a stroke, it would help to have them do exercises for coordination and balance regularly if they are able.
Most of the time, stroke survivors experience muscle weakness. Their bodies are also often less flexible after a stroke.
Simple tasks like raising arms, moving the legs, and other occupational functions can be difficult to perform.
Because of this, stroke survivors should be focusing more on strength, coordination, and flexibility training.
This should help them improve their balance and lessen their risk of falls.
Learn about balance exercises here.
Some of the best exercises for stroke patients include heel raises, side steps, and squats.
These low-impact movements can improve muscle strength. It’s easy, gentle, and can be done effectively even without any equipment.
Walking is the most popular low-impact exercise. It burns calories and pumps up the cardiovascular system.
The best part is, the patient can choose their pace and intensity.
Stroke patients should have workouts at least two to three times a week. Each workout can last from 10 to 15 minutes.
Just make sure to get the doctor’s approval before planning and doing any exercise routines.
Read more about core exercises for seniors here.
Holiday celebrations can increase the chances of stroke especially in the elderly.
However, strokes can be avoided through smart planning and keeping our celebrations practical.
It’s best to choose safer meal options by adding healthier food to our feasts.
We should also prepare for the worst-case scenario by recognizing the signs and symptoms of strokes.
It is also best to encourage movement during downtimes. You can even incorporate it through leisurely walks, games, and other fun activities the whole family can enjoy.
And most of all, we must engage our elderly in doing exercises for coordination and balance.
Doing this will ensure their overall health and wellness, and also prevent strokes from happening.
That's all for today.
Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!