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5 Common Reasons for Mini-Strokes in Seniors

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Mini-strokes (transient ischemic attacks) are sometimes called “silent strokes” because they often produce vague symptoms or ones that go away fairly quickly. These symptoms include dizziness, confusion, vision changes, severe headaches, and speech-related difficulties. Because mini-strokes often lead to more serious strokes, we’re going to focus on five common causes of transient ischemic attacks and what your senior loved one can do to reduce the risk of experiencing them.

1. Blood Clots

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, blood clots are the leading cause of most types of strokes, including mini-strokes. Not all blood clots are entirely preventable. However, aging adults may be able to reduce their odds of mini-strokes related to blood clots by:

• Getting regular exercise
• Staying within a healthy weight range
• Not smoking
• Taking a baby aspirin daily (with doctor approval)

A professional caregiver can help your loved one address health challenges at home in safety and comfort. Recovering from a stroke, managing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, and a variety of other health-related situations can make it difficult for a senior to continue living at home without someone there to help. Edmonton, AB, live-in care professionals are trained to help seniors who need 24/7 assistance. With the help of a live-in caregiver, your elderly loved one can maintain a higher quality of life while aging in place.

2. High Blood Pressure

Consistently high blood pressure (chronic hypertension) places added stress on blood vessels, which increases the risk of developing the type of clots that result in mini-strokes. Your loved one can keep his or her blood pressure in check by:

• Losing excess weight
• Cutting down on sodium intake
• Reducing stress
• Minimizing caffeine and alcohol consumption

3. Diabetes

Roughly 7 percent of Canadians have diabetes, according to Statistics Canada. If your loved one is among them, he or she is more likely to have mini-strokes or strokes, especially if he or she has type 2 diabetes, which is related to lifestyle issues such as obesity. In general, an older adult with diabetes is nearly twice as likely to have a stroke or mini-stroke than a non-diabetic senior. This is a risk best mitigated by encouraging your loved one to take appropriate steps to manage diabetes, which means:

• Monitoring blood sugar levels
• Making appropriate lifestyle adjustments
• Getting regular medical exams
• Reporting any unusual symptoms (e.g., numbness in limbs, dizziness, etc.)

An in-home caregiver can provide transportation to medical appointments so your loved one gets the regular testing he or she needs. In-home care experts are available to provide high-quality care to seniors on an as-needed basis. From assistance with mobility and exercise to providing transportation to the doctor’s office and social events, there are a variety of ways professional caregivers can help your aging loved one continue to live independently.

4. High Cholesterol

Another common cause of mini-strokes in aging adults is the accumulation of cholesterol-containing fatty deposits. These plaques can reduce blood flow and increase the risk of developing clots. High cholesterol is common among seniors, in part because the body tends to produce more cholesterol as it ages.

However, certain lifestyle factors can also affect cholesterol levels in older adults. Getting more exercise and following a healthy diet are two of the ways your loved one can balance his or her cholesterol levels. The general recommendation for seniors is to aim for a total cholesterol level below 200 mg/dl.

5. Carotid Artery Disease

Carotid artery disease is a condition that results in the buildup of plaques in the two carotid arteries. These arteries are responsible for carrying oxygen-rich blood to the brain, which is why any blockage has the potential to trigger mini-strokes or more serious strokes. Seniors may be able to prevent or slow the progression of carotid artery disease by:

• Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables
• Limiting salt usage
• Finding ways to get regular exercise
• Managing chronic health conditions 

Seniors can face a variety of age-related challenges. Though some families choose to take on the caregiving duties, there may come a time when they need a trusted Edmonton home care service provider. Families sometimes need respite from their duties so they can focus on their other responsibilities, and some seniors need around-the-clock assistance that their families are not able to provide. Home Care Assistance is here to help. If you need compassionate, professional home care for your loved one, call one of our friendly Care Managers today at (780) 977-7379.