Recognizing the Signs of Stroke in Seniors

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If you are caring for a senior or adult or have an elder among your friends or family, it’s helpful to know the signs of stroke in advance so you can take proactive measures when necessary.

It’s often difficult to know when a stroke is occurring. A person experiencing a stroke may be confused or even combative.

We compiled this guide to help you be prepared, should a loved one ever experience a stroke.

What are the Stroke Symptoms?

Here are some of the most common ways to recognize the signs of a stroke so you can get your family member or friend medical care as soon as possible.


For many victims, the initial symptom is sudden numbness in the face. They may also lose feeling in the hands, feet, arms, legs or other extremities.

It’s common for a stroke to cause numbness on one entire side of the body while the other side remains fully functional.

However, it’s also common for only one part of the body to be affected, so any numbness, no matter how small the area, may be considered a sign of stroke.

Mental Confusion

Because a stroke affects the brain, many people will experience mental confusion as a symptom. This may manifest as difficulty speaking, either with incoherent speech, incorrect word usage or problems speaking at all.

Speech patterns are often slurred. They may also seem confused and have trouble understanding the situation or have no memory of the last few moments.

Loss of Sight

Though complete loss of sight may occur, many people experience limited vision as a stroke symptom; their vision may be blurry, or the person may squint to see. Double vision and inability to understand images are also common signs.


A sudden headache, especially a severe one, can be a sign of stroke. This is especially telling if a headache has no known cause and the person has no history of headaches, though you should remember any headache may possibly be stroke-related, especially if combined with other symptoms.

Loss of Balance and Coordination

Stroke victims often have difficulty standing, walking or moving at all. It’s not uncommon to have a loss of balance and have trouble with coordination. The person may simply appear clumsy for no apparent reason.

Stroke Symptom Test

If you’re unsure of which signs the person is experiencing, there are a few tests you can conduct. The American Heart Association uses the acronym “F.A.S.T.” to help you remember these tests.

F: Face Drooping

First, ask the person to smile. If one side of their face seems to droop or feels numb, they may be having a stroke.

A: Arm Weakness

Ask the patient to raise both arms over their head. If they have trouble due to muscle weakness or one arm seems to droop, these are strong signs of a stroke.

S: Speech Difficulty

Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, such as their name or a comment on the weather. If they have trouble repeating or remembering the words, or if the speech is slurred or nonsensical, call 911.

T: Time to Call 911

If the patient has trouble completing any of these tests or they’re experiencing the symptoms above or other unusual signs, call 911. It’s always best to err on the side of caution, even if you’re not sure the person is having a stroke. Strokes can have lasting negative effects, and immediate medical care is a necessity.

Strokes are emergency situations

Though only one in five stroke victims die from a stroke, most survivors have long-lasting physical and mental effects, so immediate medical attention is crucial.

Unfortunately, it’s often difficult to know when a stroke is actually occurring. The person experiencing a stroke may be confused or even combative.

They may also be quiet and still, without drawing any signs to themselves. Oftentimes, you will need to pay close attention to even notice that a person is having symptoms.


Aftercare for Elders Who Have Experienced a Stroke

If your friend or family member experiences a stroke, they may have long-term, lasting mental and physical signs that affect their ability to care for themselves on a daily basis. In this situation, you might consider professional stroke aftercare to ensure they are cared for and safe.

SALMON Health and Retirement offers assisted living, respite, (short-term) care and short-term rehab, and home care to support the ongoing needs of stroke patients.

Whitney Place Assisted Living is a warm environment for seniors who need support and guidance for their daily routines.

Social activities, transportation, and personal care attendants are all available for residents. Respite stays at Whitney Place are available for short periods of time.

If an elder adult needs stroke aftercare but would rather stay in their own home, home care may be an option. SALMON VNA & Hospice coordinates with physicians and insurance companies to create an effective, supportive home care routine. They also offer additional services such as companionship, housekeeping, and assistance with daily living.

If you’re concerned an elder adult (or a person of any age) is experiencing a stroke, please do not hesitate to call emergency services immediately – especially because signs of stroke aren’t always clear.

For older adults who have experienced a stroke, please know daily assistance and loving care may benefit their quality of life immensely. Contact us here if you have any additional questions.