As someone who’s charged with the care of another, it’s important to know the warning signs of a stroke so you can take immediate action. The sooner a stroke victim receives medical attention, the better chance he has of recovery and survival.
Use the mnemonic device “FAST” to remember the checklist:
- F: FACE – Ask your parent to smile. Does one side droop?
- A: ARMS – Ask him or her to raise both arms. Does one drift downward?
- S: SPEECH – Ask a simple question. Does he or she seem confused? Is the
speech slurred or unusual?
- T: TIME – Don’t waste time! Call 911 right away if you observe any problems.
If your parent complains of a sudden weakness or numbness, loses vision in one or both eyes, has a sudden and severe headache or loses his balance, follow the FAST outline and call 911.
My father had a stroke. It was very near the end of his life and happened while he was already in the hospital for a medication adjustment. His dementia was becoming more severe and we decided to work on changing his medication while he was in an in-patient environment. My sister and I met with the doctor around lunchtime and reviewed the list of meds he was taking, and discussed what changes could possibly be made to help him have a better quality of life.
We didn’t get to visit with him while we were there because he was sleeping. I remember thinking that his breathing didn’t sound quite right, but the hospital staff wasn’t concerned, so I didn’t say anything. Don’t ever repeat my reluctance to speak up – it can mean the difference between life and death. If you suspect something is wrong, seek assistance and be persistent until you are taken seriously.