What Are the Symptoms of a Stroke in an Elderly Woman?

Article by Moody Neuro

Anybody can experience a stroke regardless of gender or age. However, it is more likely to happen to older adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the risk of having a stroke doubles every 10 months beyond 55 years old. The CDC adds that stroke happens to women more than men. In the United States, one in five women from 55 to 77 years old is predisposed to experiencing a stroke. 

If you are a woman nearing the age or a caregiver for an older woman nearing the threshold for increased risk for stroke, this article is for you. 


What Is a Stroke?

A stroke, also called a cerebrovascular accident (CVA), is a non-traumatic brain injury. It occurs when something prevents blood from reaching the brain, potentially leading to death due to the lack of oxygen and nutrients needed by the brain to function. As the oxygen levels and essential nutrients run out, bodily functions become affected, manifesting as stroke symptoms.

The longer brain cells are deprived of oxygen, the higher the risk of brain cellular death. Conversely, brain cells can heal and repair themselves if they are oxygen-deprived for a short time. Immediate medical attention for stroke patients, then, is vital.

Common Symptoms of a Stroke in an Elderly Woman

It’s crucial to recognize the symptoms of a stroke in an elderly woman as quickly as possible. Immediate medical treatment not only saves the patient’s life but also lowers the risk of life-altering disabilities and increases the chance of complete recovery.


The National Institute on Aging lists the following stroke symptoms to watch out for. Note that these symptoms don’t emerge gradually but happen suddenly:

    1. Numbness or weakness on one side of the body, whether on the face, arm, or leg
    2. Confusion and trouble speaking, like if the patient suddenly garbled their words mid-conversation or doesn’t understand what you’re saying
    3. Blurriness or loss of vision in one or both eyes
    4. Double vision
    5. Loss of balance, difficulty standing and walking, and tripping over nothing
    6. Loss of coordination and sudden clumsiness as though they are intoxicated
    7. Drowsiness 
    8. Dizziness
    9. Nausea or vomiting
    10. Chest pain 
    11. Heart palpitations
    12. Shortness of breath
    13. Inexplicably severe headache

These symptoms can be mistaken for lack of sleep, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), or overheating. However, before you rule out stroke, ask the patient to do this quick and simple test: F.A.S.T.

F – Face Ask the patient to smile. Check if one side of the face droops or doesn’t move as well as the other half.
A – Arms Ask the patient to raise both arms. Observe if one arm drifts downward when the patient attempts to raise both arms.
S – Speech Ask the patient to repeat a simple sentence. Check if they are slurring their words, cannot repeat the sentence, or appear confused and can’t understand the sentence.
T – Time If you observe even just one out of three symptoms, call 911 immediately.

Time is essential when someone is having a stroke; hesitating for even one minute could be the difference between life and death. So call 911 immediately and describe the FAST tests the patient failed to stress the urgency of the situation. The quicker the patient receives medical attention, the higher their chances of survival.


Additional Information on Strokes

The National Institute on Aging (NIH) recognizes two major types of strokes:


1. Ischemic: This occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel to the brain and the artery narrows, constricting the blood flow to the brain cells. There are three subclassifications for ischemic strokes:

    • Thrombosis: The clot originates from a blood vessel in the brain or neck
    • Embolism: The clot originates from another part of the body and gets carried by the bloodstream toward the brain
    • Stenosis: The narrowing of blood vessels due to fat buildup

2. Hemorrhagic: As the name suggests, this type of stroke happens because of internal bleeding, usually by a burst blood vessel sending blood into the brain cavity. With the ruptured blood vessel unable to circulate oxygenated blood, the brain will soon become oxygen and nutrient-deprived. Pressure from the pooling blood will also compress and damage adjacent brain tissue.

Another type of stroke is transient ischemic attack (TIA). This “mini-stroke” happens when blood vessels become temporarily blocked, often lasting less than five minutes. TIA may have milder symptoms that quickly go away, but make no mistake: It is still a medical emergency. TIA is considered a “warning stroke,” indicating a major stroke that can happen in the next few hours or days. 


How To Care for an Elderly Woman After Her Stroke

The patient’s condition in the days following their stroke will depend on several factors, like how quickly they received medical treatment, their condition before the stroke, and whether they sustained brain injuries. Generally, however, stroke survivors need hands-on care, rehabilitation, and a strong support system of friends and family to recover.

  • Counseling: Stroke survivors can exhibit behavioral, emotional, and cognitive changes. While therapists help them heal physically, psychologists and neuropsychologists can help manage their mood changes, thoughts, and emotions. Neuropsychology and counseling help prepare patients to go back to everyday life – working, studying, and making important decisions regarding finances and lifestyle. 
  • Therapy: The human brain can get “rewired” after a stroke, affecting various functions and requiring patients to undergo therapy and rehabilitation. 
    • Physical Therapy: Many patients need to relearn basic motor skills like standing, walking, sitting, and lying down. There are many rehabilitation exercises and programs that can help with a patient’s mobility skills.
    • Occupational Therapy: After regaining their strength and mobility, patients may have to relearn everyday activities like eating, drinking, bathing, using the toilet, putting on clothes, reading, writing, etc. These are “occupational skills” people need to survive.
    • Speech Therapy: A stroke can impair a person’s understanding of language and communication. Speech therapy helps patients develop new communication methods, whether verbally, in writing, or through hand signs and gestures.
  • Supportive Care: Patients who require extensive therapy will benefit from round-the-clock care from caregivers and family members. Supportive care doesn’t directly address brain injuries, but it provides the emotional support and living assistance patients need as they recover.
  • Lifestyle Change: To facilitate faster recovery, patients must pursue a healthy lifestyle and avoid activities and indulgences that could compromise their health and well-being. They require proper nutrition, adequate physical exercise, and a healthy environment and must avoid drinking, smoking, and food high in saturated fat and cholesterol.

Acquired brain injuries from a stroke can be debilitating for anyone, but particularly older women. Women statistically have longer life expectancies and are more likely to experience a stroke. Learn the symptoms of a stroke in an elderly woman, and you might save a life. 


Get Specialized Care at Moody Neurorehabilitation

If you know someone who has survived a stroke and needs rehabilitation, therapy and/or assisted living, Moody Neurorehabilitation can help. We offer personalized care and quality treatment for people recovering from brain injuries. Our expertise in post-acute neuro recovery helps patients achieve a high quality of life and regain the skills necessary to re-enter the community. 


Contact us to learn more about our services.



Strokes are medical conditions that affect millions globally. In the United States, more than 795,000 people have a stroke each year, with about 610,000 cases being first or new strokes. 

These can lead to a wide range of physical and cognitive impairments. Speech and language disorders are among the most common and most challenging consequences of strokes, occurring in about a third of stroke survivors. 

Understanding Stroke-Induced Speech & Language Disorders

Stroke-induced speech and language disorders significantly impact communication abilities. Among these, aphasia, dysarthria, and apraxia of speech are prevalent. Understanding how they are diagnosed and their specific symptoms can aid in prompt and effective management.


Aphasia is a common outcome of stroke, manifesting as difficulty in speaking, understanding, reading, and writing. There are many different types of aphasia, depending on the affected brain area, and are categorized based on the symptoms present:

  • Expressive Aphasia (Broca’s Aphasia): Characterized by broken speech, limited vocabulary, and difficulty forming complete sentences. Patients often understand what is being said to them but struggle to verbalize responses.
  • Receptive Aphasia (Wernicke’s Aphasia): Patients can produce fluent speech but may lack meaning or include nonsensical words. They often have significant difficulty understanding spoken language.
  • Global Aphasia: A severe form of aphasia where individuals have extensive difficulties with both speech production and comprehension.
  • Anomic Aphasia: Individuals have difficulty finding words, particularly nouns and verbs, making their speech sound vague.


Dysarthria is a speech disorder that affects 20-30% of stroke survivors. It occurs when stroke impacts the muscles responsible for speech, leading to slurred or slow speech that can be hard to understand. It is typically diagnosed through a physical examination and a series of speech evaluations conducted by a speech-language pathologist (SLP). 

It is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Slurred or slow speech that can be difficult to understand
  • Monotone or robotic-sounding speech
  • Difficulty controlling the volume of speech, which may be too loud or too soft
  • Challenges with the rhythm and flow of speech, including rapid speech that’s hard to interrupt or slow, drawn-out speech
  • Respiratory issues affecting the ability to speak loudly or for extended periods

Apraxia of Speech (AOS)

Apraxia of speech is a neurological disorder characterized by difficulty sequencing the movements needed for speech. This is caused by the impact of the stroke on the brain’s pathways involved in producing speech. 

Patients with AOS know what they want to say but struggle to coordinate the muscle movements to articulate words correctly. This results in distorted speech, difficulty initiating speech, or the inability to accurately produce speech sounds or sequences of sounds. 

How Long Is the Stroke Speech & Language Recovery Time?

According to one study on post-stroke speech and language therapy, approximately one-third of stroke patients experience speech problems after a stroke. Many of these individuals begin to recover within a few months, with significant progress typically observed within three to six months.

In another study, 62% of subjects had speech challenges after suffering from a stroke. By six months post-stroke, 74% were able to completely recover their communication abilities. 

However, the figures above provide a general timeline for post-stroke speech and language recovery. Stroke speech recovery time is highly individualized and can vary depending on several factors. These can include the following:

  • Severity of the Stroke: More severe strokes often lead to extensive brain damage, resulting in longer and more challenging recovery periods for speech.
  • Location of the Brain Injury: The brain’s specific regions control different speech and language functions; damage to these areas directly impacts recovery complexity and duration.
  • Age and Overall Health of the Patient: Generally, younger patients with better overall health before the stroke tend to experience faster and more complete recoveries.
  • Pre-existing Conditions and Comorbidities: Conditions such as diabetes or hypertension can slow down recovery by complicating the overall health scenario and rehabilitation process.
  • Individual Variability and Resilience: Personal resilience, the support system’s strength, and the individual’s motivation significantly influence the pace and success of speech recovery efforts.

The first three months after a stroke is a crucial period for recovery, as a majority of stroke patients see the most significant improvement during this period. However, it’s also important to note that, although at a slower pace, recovery can continue well past the 6-month mark with continued therapy and practice. 

This underpins the importance of early intervention and ongoing rehabilitation efforts, including speech therapy, to maximize each patient’s recovery potential. 

What Does the Stroke Speech & Language Recovery Process Look Like?

The journey to regain speech and language after a stroke is multifaceted and varies significantly from one individual to another. Understanding the structured phases of recovery can provide insight into what patients and their families can expect during this challenging time. 

Here’s a closer examination of each phase in the stroke speech recovery process.

Initial Assessment and Diagnosis

Before recovery can begin, a thorough evaluation is conducted by a team of healthcare professionals led by an SLP. This assessment aims to identify the type and severity of the speech and language disorder, be it aphasia, dysarthria, or AOS. The evaluation may include cognitive-linguistic assessments, comprehension tests, speech production analysis, and functional communication measures. 

Based on this assessment, a personalized therapy plan is crafted to address the patient’s specific needs.

Acute Phase

The acute phase typically occurs within the first days to weeks following a stroke. During this period, medical stabilization is the primary focus, with healthcare teams working to manage the immediate effects of the stroke. 

Speech therapy may begin with simple exercises or assessments to gauge the patient’s abilities. However, intensive therapy usually does not start until the patient is medically stable. During the acute phase, the goal is to support overall recovery and prevent complications immediately after the stroke.

Subacute Phase

The subacute phase generally spans from two weeks to three months post-stroke and is characterized by more intensive speech therapy interventions. As the patient’s medical condition stabilizes, the focus shifts to active rehabilitation. Therapy during this phase is tailored to the individual’s specific speech and language deficits and may include:

  • Exercises to improve articulation, fluency, and voice control for those with dysarthria.
  • Language therapy to enhance understanding, speaking, reading, and writing skills in patients with aphasia.
  • Motor speech exercises and strategies to improve speech planning and production in apraxia of speech.

The subacute phase is crucial for taking advantage of the brain’s natural recovery processes and neuroplasticity, where the brain begins reorganizing and adapting to the loss of function.

Chronic Phase

The chronic phase of recovery extends from several months to years after the stroke. It focuses on long-term rehabilitation and adjustment to any residual speech deficits. During this time, patients may continue to see gradual improvements in their speech and language abilities, although the rate of recovery may slow. Therapy in the chronic phase often includes:

  • Advanced communication strategies to cope with ongoing challenges in daily life.
  • Maintenance exercises to preserve and enhance speech gains achieved in earlier phases.
  • Supportive technologies and aids, such as communication devices, to assist in effective communication.
  • Community reintegration activities to help patients return to as normal a life as possible, engaging in social, vocational, or recreational activities.

What Is the Role of Neuroplasticity in Speech & Language Recovery?

Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s fundamental property to change and adapt its responses to new experiences, learning, and environmental changes. This adaptive capacity enables the brain to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections.

When the brain, or a part of the brain, is damaged after a stroke, neuroplasticity is what allows the other parts of the brain to take over the functions of the damaged area. Through targeted rehabilitation and therapy, such as speech therapy for stroke survivors, patients can retrain other brain areas to perform the lost functions and facilitate recovery.

Enhancing Stroke Speech & Language Recovery Time

Adopting a comprehensive approach involving several key strategies is vital to enhance the stroke speech and language recovery time. This multifaceted approach can maximize the chances of regaining speech and communication abilities.

This comprehensive approach must incorporate the following strategies:

  • Early intervention to leverage the brain’s highest potential for neuroplasticity in the initial period following a stroke, significantly improving the chances for recovery.
  • Alternative communication strategies, such as gestures, writing, and visual aids, to help maintain communication during the recovery process. 
  • Adopting technology, including speech-generating devices and software applications designed for speech rehabilitation, for personalized exercises and continuous practice, which is vital for progress.
  • Providing continuous support from psychologists, support groups, and therapy to help manage feelings of frustration, depression, and anxiety, fostering a positive mindset essential for rehabilitation.
  • A healthy diet and lifestyle to supply essential nutrients that support brain function, along with regular physical activity, adequate sleep, and management of medical conditions.

Begin Your Post-Stroke Recovery Journey With Moody Neurorehabilitation

Moody Neurorehabilitation understands the complexities and challenges that come with post-stroke rehabilitation. We are dedicated to supporting patients and their families through this critical time with specialized care and personalized treatment plans.

Since our inception in 1982, Moody Neurorehabilitation has been a leader in brain injury rehabilitation. Our approach centers on providing comprehensive care tailored to each patient’s needs and goals. We believe in treating the whole person, not just the symptoms, to improve overall quality of life.

We invite you to start your recovery journey with us. Contact Moody Neurorehabilitation today to schedule a consultation with our experts. Let us help you navigate the path to recovery with care, compassion, and expertise.