While it’s true that anyone can suffer a stroke at any time, stroke has traditionally been thought of as a problem primarily for seniors. In fact, 1 in 3 life-changing cardiovascular events happened in adults 35-64 years old in 2016. Obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure increase susceptibility to stroke, and all of these risk factors are more common among younger people today than in the past.
Stroke can best be described as a “brain attack.” It is like a heart attack, but blood is cut off to part of the brain instead of to a part of the heart. Brain cells in the area deprived of blood begin to die, and abilities controlled by that part of the brain are affected. The damage done by stroke can vary; quick treatment is vital to diminishing the harm. As the fifth-leading cause of death in America, the seriousness of stroke cannot be overstated. Yet stroke is on the rise in those under age 45, primarily due to unhealthy lifestyle choices that contribute to chief stroke factors. As obesity in children and teens continues to rise, the average age of stroke victims is likely to continue to decline.
Younger stroke victims stand to lose many productive years and may require a long lifetime of support. The recovery process can be financially devastating for young men and women and their families. Recovery may involve a substantial loss of income, either temporary or permanent. Meanwhile, families are faced with the additional demands of providing care for recovering loved ones.
Insurance issues can easily become a major source of stress for young stroke survivors and their families. Stroke victims under the age of 65 do not qualify for Medicare. If they have insurance through work, they may lose it when they leave the workforce for recovery. Some may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), but it can take months to be approved.
Physically, young stroke victims may have some advantages compared to older ones. They tend to have fewer co-morbidities that may complicate the recovery process, and they tend to recover faster and more fully than older adults.
Still, strokes can cause a variety of types of disabilities. What recovery involves and the level of assistance needed will vary for individuals and their families. The need to minimize risks and to be prepared for the unexpected is for the most part something everyone shares.
Manage Risk Factors for Stroke Prevention
Everyone should understand their risk factors for stroke, including those that cannot be modified (gender, age, race, family history) and those that are treatable. Treatable risk factors include hypertension/high blood pressure, smoking, heart disease, diabetes, a cholesterol imbalance, physical inactivity, obesity, and more. Your doctor can help evaluate your risk of stroke and address lifestyle changes, therapies or medications that may substantially cut that risk. It’s now estimated that as many as 80% of all strokes may now be prevented!
Recognize Stroke Warning Signs and act F.A.S.T
Don’t take a ‘wait and see’ approach to any of the warning signs of a stroke. Call a doctor or 911 immediately if you experience:
Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg (especially on one side)
- Confusion, difficulty talking or trouble comprehending speech that appears suddenly.
- Difficulty seeing in one or both eyes.
- Sudden dizziness, loss of balance or difficulty walking.
- The sudden onset of a severe headache with no apparent cause.
Be aware that warning signs—these and others—may not last long, but they should never be ignored. Acting swiftly may save your life or dramatically impact the severity of disability. Fast treatment can make a tremendous difference! You can find out more about stroke warning signs and symptoms here.
Financial Preparation – Be Ready for the Cost of Recovery
Along with prevention and risk management, it’s crucial for young people to be financially prepared for unexpected medical emergencies like stroke. If you’re fortunate enough to have health insurance that will cover the costs of stroke care, be sure all aspects of recovery will also be covered. If you don’t have insurance, or insurance is inadequate, saving to grow an emergency medical fund is a must.
A trusted financial planner can help you evaluate your financial position realistically. If you’re like many Americans, it’s likely there’s room for improvement in terms of your emergency fund. Individuals and families should be prepared for a lengthy absence from work for recovery. Costs associated with in-home care and support during stroke recovery will also need to be accounted for. If the plan is for a family member to provide most of the care that’s needed at home, what about respite care for the caregiver? What about the caregiving family member’s lost wages?
It may seem overwhelming to consider the financial challenges a stroke can present. Yet by being prepared, you’ll have a plan in place should the unthinkable occur. It is far better to understand ahead of time what is likely to happen financially as the result of a stroke rather than face a shocking truth at a time of crisis.
Help for Stroke Recovery Today
Younger stroke victims who need help with the challenges of recovery today can find the support they need by calling Home Helpers of Amsterdam at (518) 842-5626. We can help in multiple ways.
We’ll tailor our services to meet your needs with a customized plan of care. Strokes cause many various types of disability; there is no “one size fits all” recovery plan. Just as medicine and therapy must be tailored to the patient’s needs, assistance with activities of daily living and other care also needs to be customized. We invite you to contact us to discuss your individual situation to find out how we may be of service to you.
We have a team of trained, certified, exceptional caregivers who are ready to be part of the solution. A recovering stroke patient may need assistance with medication reminders, personal care, meals and eating, homemaker services, or transportation. We also offer personal monitoring services with our Direct Link™ line of devices. Learn more about our exceptional caregivers here, or Direct Link here.
We are glad to provide as much as information as we possibly can about managing the cost of care associated with stroke recovery. We can provide information on private pay care and making the most of your budget, opportunities for veterans to receive assistance, and even Medicaid coverage possibilities for qualified individuals living in NY.
We are here to help young stroke victims and their families who are trying to navigate what may seem a complex and overwhelming undertaking. Give us a call at (518) 842-5626 to learn more about how we can help.