May Aging ObservanceA stroke, sometimes called a brain attack, occurs when a blockage stops the flow of blood to the brain or when a blood vessel in or around the brain bursts[1].  Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States1. Strokes often lead to serious, long-term disabilities.

Older people are more likely to experience strokes[2]. However, stroke is not an inevitable consequence of aging.  The burden of stroke is greatest among the elderly, men, and African Americans2.


While there are uncontrollable factors such as family history, age, sex, and race/ethnicity that play a role in an individual’s stroke risk, there are some preventive actions people can take2.

Know your ABCS of health1:

  • Appropriate Aspirin therapy: Ask your doctor if taking aspirin is right for you.
  • Blood pressure control: Keeping your blood pressure under control reduces your risk of stroke. More than half of the world’s stroke deaths are caused by elevated blood pressure levels.
  • Cholesterol management: Get your cholesterol checked regularly and manage it with diet and physical activity or with medication, if needed.
  • Smoking cessation: Get help at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

When responding to a stroke, every minute counts. If you or someone you know exhibits the following signs or symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately:

  • Numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding.
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance and coordination.
  • Severe headache with no known cause.

For more information, check out the following resources:

[1] May is National Stroke Awareness Month. (2012, May 1). Retrieved May 1, 2015, from

[2] Michael, K., & Shaughnessy, M. (2006). Stroke Prevention and Management in Older Adults. The Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, S21-S26.

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Older adults are a growing and vital part of our country. The contributions they make to our communities are as varied and deeply rooted, as the Older Americans themselves. From 69-year-old NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Jr. to 84-year-old actress Rita Moreno to 83-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who began her tenure at age 60, older adults are blazing trails from coast to coast.

Led by the Administration for Community Living, this annual observance offers the opportunity to learn about, support, and celebrate our nation’s older citizens. This year’s theme, “Blaze a Trail,” emphasizes the ways older adults are reinventing themselves through new work and new passions, engaging their communities, and blazing a trail of positive impact on the lives of people of all ages.

We will use OAM 2016 to focus on how older adults in our community are leading and inspiring others, how we can support and learn from them, and how we might follow their examples to blaze trails of our own. [i]

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