Headaches can sneak up on your aging parent. They’re aware of the dull, throbbing in their temples, behind their eyes, or at the top or back of their scalp, but there are other pains and physical conditions that trump this one—and so it goes unheeded and unspoken about.
A Family Caregiver
As a family caregiver, you are often at the front line concerning your parent’s welfare. You probably see them more frequently than anyone else in their lives. In addition, you know their intricacies—the grimace that has started appearing on their face, their loss of appetite or increasing fatigue. A headache in the elderly should not be taken lightly. While it can be a case or stress, hunger or lack of sleep, there are several conditions that have headache as a symptom or warning sign.
A headache associated with high blood pressure can feel like pressure behind the eyes or a blow to the head with a hammer. It is often associated with heart palpitations and excessive sweating. Check your loved one’s blood pressure—180/110 recorded more than once requires emergency medical attention.
If your parent has been diagnosed with diabetes, they probably are already aware of the correlation between headaches and high or low blood sugar. If there seems to be a correlation, make sure your loved one keeps a close eye on their blood glucose levels and when your parent’s sugar drops to the low side, get them 4 ounces of juice or skim milk.
Stroke or TIA
A throbbing headache, sometimes with a visual aura like that of a camera flash and suggestive of a migraine, can be a precursor to an impending stroke. Other symptoms include garbled words, decreasing strength on one side of the body and confusion. TIAs or trans ischemic attacks are brief and resolve quickly. They can, however, suggest an impending stroke. In either case, call 911—both of these possible situations require immediate medical attention.
This headache has a tendency to occur in the temporal region. It can present as diffuse or stabbing. Other symptoms are fever and listlessness. It occurs almost always in people who are 50 years of age or older and is caused by inflammation or damage to the temporal arteries. It requires immediate medical attention as it is potentially life threatening and can lead to loss of vision or a stroke.
Migraines usually improve as people age. They often begin in someone’s 20s and improve in the 50s and 60s. If they do occur, the aura associated with migraines is often the predominant symptom, not the pain. Due to this same symptom occurring in other types of headaches associated with other diseases, it’s important to have your loved one seen by their primary health care provider as soon as possible.
Elder Care Provider
If your loved one is suffering from the effects of a chronic condition and needs help with the everyday activities of living, consider obtaining the services of an elder care provider. These professionals can also provide companionship and care that helps your loved one age fearlessly in the face of disease.
If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring professional elder care in Essex County, NJ, please talk to the caring staff at Generations Home Health Care today. Providing Home Care in Somerset, Essex, Union, Morris and Hunterdon Counties. Call us today at (908) 290-0691 or (973) 241-4534.