Thursday, August 11, 2016

It's not just money - it's affecting lives

Earlier this week, there was a posting about young people and strokes. Today, it's about the cost of care for elderly stroke survivors.

Now, cost is not a pleasant topic. It smacks of talk about death squads, rationing and other politically divisive terms.

But, how about we do agree on this: Preventing a stroke can save lives and resources that can always be used elsewhere. So, keep in mind stroke prevention in reading how caring for elderly stroke survivors costs an estimated $40 billion per year:
Using data from a national survey of Medicare beneficiaries, the team compared 892 elderly self-reported stroke survivors to 892 non-stroke controls, accounting for demographics and other health conditions, like hypertension, coronary heart disease or dementia.
The researchers determined more than half of elderly stroke survivors receive help from a caregiver, requiring 22.3 hours of assistance per week on average. That’s nearly double what elderly patients who have not had a stroke require, at an average of 11.8 hours of help.
“Stroke survivors need a caregiver to spend the equivalent of half of a full-time job each week to help them,” said senior author James Burke, M.D., M.S., a neurologist with U-M’s Comprehensive Stroke Center and the Ann Arbor Department of Veterans Affairs.
“Caregiving is an especially big burden in patients with neurological conditions.”
Skolarus added, “We need to plan for other mechanisms to support caregivers and survivors. Hopefully planning now will reduce the future burden.”
Strokes are the leading cause of permanent disability, and family caregivers are so often unrecognized. And adding "mechanisms to support caregivers and survivors" is a great goal. Caregivers need some specifics, though.

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