SCES Promotes FAST Campaign to Raise Stroke Awareness

Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES) will strive to raise awareness about the warning signs of a stroke this September.

Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability and the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to the National Stroke Association. Those dangers can be mitigated by prompt medical attention and that makes awareness crucial, explained SCES Director of Outreach and Community Relations Nathan Lamb.

Act FAST logo

“We know that acting fast can make all the difference when dealing with a stroke, so we’re making a concerted effort to raise awareness on this issue,” said Lamb.

Working primarily through the Meals-on-Wheels and Adult Family Care live-in caregiver programs, SCES is providing roughly 1,300 clients and agency employees with educational materials about F.A.S.T., an acronym that outlines the warning signs of stroke:

Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven?

Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?

Time to call 9-1-1 – If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital immediately. Check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared.

The SCES campaign will provide informative flyers and magnets for 600 Meals-on-Wheels clients, plus another 300 people at congregate meals sites and another 250 clients in the Adult Family Care program. All SCES employees will also receive educational materials.

The outreach campaign is in partnership with Mount Auburn Hospital, a teaching hospital in Cambridge that provided grant funding to incorporate stroke awareness with community programs. The yearlong program is partnering with several local organizations to get the word out, said a hospital release.

“The simple message of the campaign– Time is Brain– means that the faster someone who is having a stroke gets emergency treatment, the chance of saving brain function improves,” said Mount Auburn Hospital Stroke Nurse Coordinator Marie McCune. “Everyone, in particular those who are elderly and those who work with elders, need to know the warning signs of a stroke and to Act F.A.S.T.”