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What Occurs in an Aging Adult’s Brain Following a Stroke?

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Every year, more than 750,000 people in the United States have strokes, which are caused by blocked or ruptured blood vessels in the brain. Once a stroke occurs, a number of events begin at the cellular level that lead to various physical symptoms.

Within the cells, enzymes accumulate to the point of becoming toxic, and the cells are destroyed from the inside out. The toxins then begin affecting nearby cells, spreading the effect. The immune system becomes aware of the crisis and sends out white blood cells and chemical compounds that combine with elevated cortisol levels to create an inflammatory response. The inflammation and irritation increase the brain’s fluid volume (along with blood, in the event of a hemorrhagic stroke), causing swelling. Calcium, glucose, and sodium levels increase, and oxygen levels decrease. The pH rises, and the acidic environment contains free radicals that cause further damage.

Right Hemisphere Strokes

A stroke on the right side of the brain affects control of the left side of the body. Survivors of strokes in the brain’s right hemisphere may experience short-term memory loss, exhibit impulsive behaviors, or lose depth perception. The brain also causes seniors to ignore the left side of the body, which leads to balance difficulties and makes rehab more challenging. Muscles on the affected side may tighten and contract, or seniors may have limited use but experience involuntary spastic movements or tremors.

Right hemisphere strokes can cause survivors to experience problems with perception. Perception deficits may involve the loss of physical sensation, causing seniors to lose the ability to differentiate between cold and hot or dull and sharp on the affected side. A stroke survivor may also experience chronic tingling or partial or total numbness in an extremity. 

The effects of a stroke can make it difficult for seniors to live at home safely without a caregiver close by at all times. Certain age-related conditions can make it more challenging for seniors to age in place safely and comfortably, but Mesa live-in care experts are available around the clock to help seniors manage their health. Whether your loved one is living with dementia or recovering from a stroke, you can trust the professional live-in caregivers from Home Care Assistance to enhance his or her quality of life. 

Left Hemisphere Strokes

When the damage occurs on the left side of the brain, stroke survivors may experience short-term memory loss in addition to paralysis on the right side of the body. When Broca’s area (the part of the brain governing speech) endures damage, seniors may experience dysarthria, apraxia, or aphasia. 

Dysarthria involves the loss of coordination in the muscle groups responsible for creating speech. Symptoms of this condition include slowed or slurred speech. Some seniors may use rapid speech that sounds like mumbling. Dysarthria may also involve drooling, chewing, and swallowing difficulties.

Apraxia interferes with purposeful control of the tissues that create speech. Seniors with the condition have difficulty connecting the sounds required to make syllables, and they may lose the ability to use the right words to identify objects, people, and places. Aphasia causes the inability to comprehend ideas, speech, and written words. Language may seem foreign, which makes self-expression difficult. 

Stroke survivors who recover at home often need help with the everyday tasks of life. Many seniors prefer aging in place over moving to an assisted living facility. If your senior loved one needs assistance to remain safe and comfortable while living at home, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading Mesa homecare services agency. Our dedicated in-home caregivers can assist with meal prep, bathing and grooming, exercise, medication reminders, and many other important tasks.

Cerebellum Strokes

Strokes that occur in the front region of the brain (the cerebellum) often cause visual disturbances. The eye muscles may weaken, and seniors may experience double vision. Some may experience hemianopsia, which causes vision loss on the left or right side. Homonymous hemianopsia causes a loss of the same visual field in both eyes simultaneously. 

Senior stroke survivors often need very specialized assistance from caregivers who have experience in providing support during stroke recovery. The in-home care services seniors need can vary. Some need assistance a few hours a day, while others require more extensive around-the-clock assistance. At Home Care Assistance, we tailor our care plans based on each senior’s individual care needs, and the plans can be adjusted at any time. Contact one of our experienced Care Managers today at (480) 699-4899 to learn more about our reliable at-home care.