Stroke Risk: 5 Ways Stroke Can Disrupt Your Life

Stroke Risk: 5 Ways Stroke Can Disrupt Your Life

Posted on December 12, 2013 by ElderCare Phoenix in Blog, Caregiver Education, Education, Financial Services, Memory Loss, Stroke /Stroke Symptoms

Stroke is the third leading cause of death each year in the United States, with about 700,000 victims annually. Unfortunately, more than half of all victims experience no prior symptoms, according to the American Stroke Association. For this reason, preventive screening can be crucial in maintaining optimal health, because the effects of this condition can be devastating. Below are five ways a stroke can make your life harder.

Physical Problems

The physical effects of a stroke can be devastating and can severely impact a person’s quality of life. Weakness or paralysis often makes working, eating, bathing, tying shoes, and dressing without assistance extremely difficult, if not impossible. Severe joint pain due to muscle spasms and pain with touch or temperature changes are common. In many cases, patients require wheelchairs for mobility.

Additionally, almost half of all victims will experience trouble with swallowing, which can cause malnourishment, dehydration, choking, or even death. Weakened lip and tongue muscles also can cause unclear speech. Many problems with eyesight may also occur, making it difficult not to spill at the dinner table or bump into things. Vision problems may also make driving impossible. Sexual dysfunction and bladder or bowel incontinence also affects many patients.

Cognitive or Mental Problems

They can also cause cognitive challenges. Victims often experience difficulty with reasoning, problem solving skills, trouble concentrating, and difficulties with short-term memory. They may also be unaware of their surroundings and feel sad and depressed.

Many patients experience also problems in social settings. Victims may be unable to stay on topic and often display inappropriate responses or actions, being overemotional or flat in their speech. Many also have difficulty understanding language subtleties, such as sarcasm or humor and may be unable to keep up during fast paced conversations.

Social Challenges

Day to day activities may be difficult as well. Seemingly simple tasks such as paying bills, cooking, grocery shopping or caring for pets may be impossible after a stroke. Even light housekeeping or remembering to take medications can be difficult. More complex tasks such as driving may be impossible. The level of independence an individual experienced in the past may diminish significantly after an occurrence, causing great emotional distress to the patient as well as his or her family.

Financial Challenges

Besides the emotional cost, the financial burden can be devastating as well. Even for the insured, the cost can be great. The direct expenses, such as money for hospital stays, physicians, nursing homes, rehabilitation, medication, and therapy may be very high. In addition, the indirect costs, such as loss of productivity, add up quickly. Because only about 53 percent of survivors are able to return to work, income is usually greatly reduced. Many will end up losing their homes to foreclosure or be unable to pay their bills. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stroke related costs in 2007 amounted to about 62.7 billion dollars, or around $140,000 per patient.

Burden On the Family

Financial challenges may also burden a patient’s family. Family members may have to pay medical bills and other expenses if the patient is unable to work. Also, because family members are usually the primary caregivers after a patient is discharged from the hospital or nursing home, many are unable to continue working themselves, due to the hours needed for feeding, bathing, attending to personal hygiene, and offering emotional support to their loved one.

Strokes take a toll on a family’s mental health, too. Caring for a patient can be taxing emotionally. Many family caregivers say they feel loneliness, anxiety, and depression and may feel isolated due to constraints on their social life.

Many strokes can be avoided with preventive screenings. An ultrasound scan of the carotid arteries by a skilled sonographer is painless and is the best predictor of stroke and heart disease. Screenings are quick and convenient and may save your life. Some companies even offer mobile screening events in community schools, churches, or activity centers. Are you at risk? Get screened and you will know what measures you may need to take.

By: Aimee Whitfill