Strokes Impacting Younger Americans

Once thought to only impact older Boomers, more GenX'ers are suffering from strokes. The consequences include long-term health care and a burden on loved ones. The cost of care services is high the stress and anxiety of family can be life-changing.

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Strokes Impacting Younger Americans
3 Min Read December 2nd, 2016 Updated:May 25th, 2022

Pennsylvania's Lieutenant Governor and Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, John Fetterman, suffered a stroke just before primary day. The 52-year-old had suffered a stroke that was caused by a clot from his heart being in atrial fibrillation for too long. 

A larger number of younger people are having strokes these days. The causes of these strokes can be attributed to lifestyle risks like smoking, drinking, and physical inactivity. It also doesn't help that more younger people have chronic health issues like obesity, uncontrolled high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Dawne Gee is a TV news anchor for Louisville TV station WAVE channel 3. She suffered a stroke several years ago during a newscast on live TV.

"Life can change in the blink of an eye," Gee told the TV station from her wheelchair when she was in a rehab facility. She has several other health problems but is still working at the TV station doing the job she says she loves.

Strokes Lead to Long-Term Health Care for Many People

Strokes once thought to be something that just impacted older people, are now happening at younger ages. This means more younger people will end up requiring long-term health care to get help with their normal activities of daily living.

Sometimes with extensive rehab, they can return to full independence; other times, they are not as lucky.

An estimated 10% of strokes occur in people under age 50, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Neurologist Blake Buletko, MD says younger people ignore symptoms because of their younger age.

I see a lot of younger people ignoring stroke symptoms because they think they are too young or too healthy. Knowing the warning signs and seeking help right away can prevent a stroke from limiting your future productivity.

Dr. Buletko

Stroke Risk Increasing

An article in the New York Times reported that researchers at Rutgers University used data from the New Jersey Department of Health on more than 227,000 hospitalizations for stroke from 1995 through 2014, calculating incidence by age over five-year periods. The findings appeared in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

While strokes are still much more common in older people, the incidence rates for strokes in younger people have increased sharply. Compared with the 1995-99 period, the rate of stroke in 2010-14 increased by 147% percent in people 35 to 39, by 101% in people 40 to 44, by 68% for those 45 to 49, and by 23% in the 50 to 54 group.

This is still a disease of the old, but a surprisingly higher proportion of younger patients are having strokes, and it's getting worse over time.

Brett Kissela, MD, professor and vice-chair of neurology at the University of Cincinnati.

The lead author of the research report, Dr. Joel N. Swerdel, said that increasing obesity and diabetes in younger people are probably involved.

For a person 30 to 50, the good news is you ain't dead yet. 

With behavioral changes, changing diet, increasing exercise, there's still hope for you. Behavioral change is hard, but this study is an early warning sign.

Dr. Joel N. Swerdel, lead author of the research report

Younger People Ignore Doctor's Advise

The lack of adherence to the prescribed treatment, such as taking medicine to control blood pressure, and a significant increase in obesity and the prevalence of diabetes, both risk factors of cardiovascular disease, are factors in the increased stroke risk.

The first global analysis of the problem from a study in 2013 said strokes are increasingly hitting younger people worldwide, and the incidence of the crippling condition may double by 2030.

Most strokes occur when a clot blocks the blood supply to the brain. Patients often experience symptoms including a droopy face, the inability to lift their arms, and garbled speech. 

If a stroke is not treated quickly, patients can be left with long-term side effects, including speech and memory problems, paralysis, and the loss of some vision. These side effects cause the need for long-term health care either at home or in a facility. Yes, younger people end up needing long-term care.

GenXer's probably never expected to worry about strokes, but they face several health issues that were much for common for their older Boomer counterparts. An increasing number of younger people also require long-term care services as well. Some of this is due to health issues at younger ages, but some of this is due to people surviving health events and accidents at younger ages due to advances in medical science.

Younger people, especially GenXers, are encouraged to pay close attention to their health. In addition, they are encouraged to plan for long-term health care as part of their future retirement plan. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website has information on long-term health care planning. 

Younger People Planning for Long-Term Care

Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI), a national consumer advocacy group, says most people are now planning for long-term care in their 50s.

Increased public understanding of the importance of planning prior to retirement and lower costs available at younger ages are factors impacting the trend.

Jesse Slome

Long-Term Health Care Costs Rising

Strokes can be hard on anyone at any age. When you are younger, you often have a career and family to support. Not only do these people have to pay for most of their care if it goes beyond a certain period of time that health insurance pays for skilled services, but they also are not working and earning money either.

Long-term health care costs are rising due to higher demand for servcies and increasing labor costs. These costs will continue to grow every year nationwide.

Young patients with stroke often have substantial physical disabilities, with loss of the ability to function fully in their lives as they knew it before the stroke.

Yes, being proactive with your health and lifestyle will help prevent a stroke to start with. Seeing your doctor on a regular basis is essential. Taking any medications, like blood pressure meds, is a must when the doctor prescribes them. But planning is also vital.

People in their 50s start seeing declining health, and this continues as someone gets older. Being prepared for the consequences of long-term care is a key part of retirement planning. For many people, affordable Long-Term Care Insurance is part of the plan.

When you own an LTC policy, you have a solution that gives you access to your choice of quality care services, including care ta home. You will also safeguard income and assets and give your loved ones the time to be family instead of your caregiver.

Health changes and aging happens. Being prepared makes sense. Taking care of your health now before dramatic health events occur will also make it easier on everyone.

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About the Author

An LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.

LTC News Contributor James Kelly

James Kelly

Contributor since August 21st, 2017

Editor's Note

Your health insurance, including Medicare and supplements, will only pay for a limited amount of days for skilled long-term health care - basically rehab services. Sometimes skilled services will last forever, but health insurance and Medicare will only pay for a limited amount for these services.

But most long-term health care is custodial care - help with daily living activities or supervision due to dementia. Traditional health insurance and Medicare will not pay for this type of extended care. Medicaid will pay for all types of long-term health care, but only if you have limited or no income and assets. 

Long-Term Care Insurance is the solution. When you own a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, you own a solution offering you access to your choice of quality care options, including in-home care services.

You cannot buy an LTC Insurance policy if you have multiple pre-existing health problems. You must have reasonably good health, but those requirements vary depending on the insurance company.

Most people obtain their coverage in their 50s when they can still take advantage of lower premiums and overall better health.

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A specialist will save you money, and you will have peace of mind knowing they are making the appropriate recommendations - Work With a Specialist | LTC News.

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Planning for the future is never easy, but long-term health care planning can be very complicated and comes with many emotions. Getting the right tools and resources will make the process much easier.

One of the goals is to reduce the stress and anxiety usually placed on your family at the time of crisis. LTC NEWS can be beneficial in providing you with important information for you to consider.

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Find all the resources on LTC NEWS - Resources for Long-Term Care Planning | LTC News.

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If your loved one is lucky enough to own a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, be sure they use it. Sometimes families wait, thinking they can save the benefits for a rainy day. Waiting on using available Long-Term Care Insurance benefits is not a wise idea. 

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Many insurance companies have issued Long-Term Care Insurance policies over the years. Filing a claim can sometimes be complicated unless you know what to do or get expert help and assistance. 

Don't allow the claim process to stop you from using the benefits available in an LTC policy. Quality care obtained early will help provide a better quality of life and reduce the risk of a deep decline and facility care. 

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Advantages of Reverse Mortgages 

Today's reverse mortgages for those aged 62 and older could be an ideal resource to fund a Long-Term Care Insurance policy OR even provide money to pay for care if you, or a loved one, already needs help and assistance. You might be eligible at younger ages as well. 

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Learn more by asking questions to an expert. Mike Banner, LTC NEWS columnist and host of the TV Show "62 Who Knew" will answer your questions regarding caregiving, aging, health, retirement planning, long-term care, and reverse mortgages. 

- Just "Ask Mike." - Reverse Mortgages | LTC News.

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