Knowing Stroke Symptoms Can Save a Senior’s Life

by Lois Etienne on November 24, 2010

in Senior Health and Safety

Senior in Boise IdahoQuestion: My 72-year-old mother, who lives alone, has been experiencing dizziness and headaches.  I’m afraid she may be having TIAs or mini strokes and that she could be headed for a major stroke.  What are the stroke symptoms and what can I do to help, since she lives alone?

Please encourage your mother to visit a doctor since any symptoms such as persistent headaches and dizziness should be investigated.  Ask your mom about other problems she might be experiencing or changes she’s noticed in her health.  Make a list of those so she can tell the doctor.  Following are symptoms of a TIA or a stroke, from the National Stroke Association: Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.

  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

If you are with your mother when she is experiencing these problems, the National Stroke Association recommends this simple test.  The acronym F.A.S.T (Face, Arms, Speech and Time) will help you remember what to do.

  1. Face your mother.  Ask her to smile.  Does one side of the face droop?
  2. Ask her to raise both arms.  Does one arm drift downward?
  3. Ask her to repeat a simple sentence.  Can she repeat it correctly or are the words slurred?
  4. If she shows any of these symptoms, time is important, so call 911 or get her to the hospital fast.

If you don’t think your mother should be alone, enlist the help of other family and friends to check in on her as much as possible.  Or consider hiring a professional caregiver.

For more information or to get answers to your questions, please contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office.  We can be reached — anytime day or night – by calling Spokane: 509.835.5898, North/South King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties: 800-4SENIORS (800-473-6476). You can also email us at

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