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SAIL discusses Stroke and Falls Prevention

By Staff | May 25, 2015

The Shepherdstown Area Independent Living (SAIL) group discussed Stroke warning signs and symptoms, as well as falls prevention during their Brown Bag Luncheon Friday.

Jefferson County Health Department Director, and registered nurse Julie Bauserman Gray offered expert advice to the group.

One in three adults over the age of 65 fall each year according to Gray.

“Among older adults falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non fatal injuries,” she said.

A startling statistic, Gray said falls make it difficult for seniors to continue to live independently as many falls result in injuries such as lacerations, head trauma and hip fractures.

“Over 95 percent of hip fractures are caused by falls,” she said.

According to Gray, people who are 75 years old or older are four to five times more likely to be admitted to a longterm care facility.

Part of SAIL’s mission is to help seniors live independently in their own homes as long as possible.

Gray recommended older adults commit to regular exercise, especially in major leg muscles as a way to help prevent falls in addition to regular eye exams.

Gray also noted the importance of managing prescription medications properly, as harmful drug interaction can increased dizziness or reduced awareness.

Gray also highlighted some warning signs for another common theft for seniors, stroke.

According to the American Heart Association, stroke is the number four cause of death and leading cause of long-term disability among Americans.

SAIL president Jack Young recounted a stroke he suffered in 2013.

“I’m a stroke survivor,” he said.

Young was transported by helicopter to Winchester Medical Center after falling into a stupor while having coffee at home.

Young credited the immediate response of his wife and EMS professionals for his full recovery.

“The timing it seems to me probably was the life saver for me.”

“Timing is essential,” Gray said.

According to information Gray presented, stroke is largely preventable. A “healthy lifestyle” is the leading prevention method.

Limiting drinking, managing diabetes, maintaining a healthy body weight, avoiding cigarette smoke, remaining physically active and eating a low fat, low cholesterol diet are all ways to help prevent stroke.

Many seniors also suffer “TIA” or transient ischemic attack, a minor stroke caused by blood clots.

Stroke warning signs include numbness or weakness of face, arm, or legs; loss of balance and coordination; sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden severe headache without cause.

Gray urged the audiences to remember the acronym “FAST,” which stands for face, arms, speech and time.

She encouraged seniors to seek immediate care if they’re experiencing any of these signs as many people tend to ignore early signs and continue on with normal activities.

“Timing is everything,” she said.

“There is a four and half hour window where certain treatments can be given,” Gray said.

Strokeassociation.org is a good resource for more information on strokes. Visit www.stopfalls.org for more information about falls.

To learn more about SAIL and their upcoming events visit their web site at sail.clubexpress.com/.