Caregiver's Corner: What Is A Stroke?

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By: Corinne Ponstein, BSN, RN, SCRN

Stroke is thought of as a "brain attack." This occurs when either blood vessels in the brain become blocked or they burst. When this happens, the brain is not able to get the blood supply that it needs which causes the brain cells to die. As the brain cells die we see the symptoms of a stroke displayed, symptoms can vary depending on which part of the brain is affected.

It is important to be familiar with the most common signs and symptoms of stroke. One easy way to remember some of them is the acronym BEFAST. Loss of Balance, Eyesight loss, Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 9-1-1. When it comes to stroke every minute counts and your immediate action can help to prevent brain damage and long-term disability.

Did you know that 80% of strokes are preventable? This is achieved by knowing and managing your personal risk factors. Some manageable risk factors include high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, obesity, atrial fibrillation and high cholesterol. Working to modify these factors by implementing healthy lifestyle changes alongside knowing the symptoms of stroke and acting quickly can greatly reduce your risk of stroke and the long-term disability that often times accompanies it.

The next Family Caregiver University class will be held on Wednesday, January 29, 2020: 1-3 p.m. and will provide information on a STROKE from Corrine Ponstein from Mercy Health. A registered dietician from the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan, Staci Gerken will also share some hints for a healthy lifestyle. The class will also provide more detailed information on the wellness programs of the Area Agency on Aging.

For a full list of Family Caregiver University classes provided by the Caregiver Resource Network, please call (888) 456-5664 or visit

Caregiver’s Corner is provided as a public service of the Caregiver Resource Network. The Caregiver Resource Network is a collaboration of West Michigan organizations dedicated to providing for the needs and welfare of family and professional caregivers within the community. Funded by the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan with Older American’s Act Title IIIE, Family Caregiver Support funds.