Why Stroke Still Matters

It feels like we hear a lot about Alzheimers and Dementia and the toll those diseases take on family caregivers. But Stroke is still a very real threat in the US — particularly for people of color.

  • CDC reports 795,000 people suffer strokes each year
  • 610,000 are first strokes
  • 185,000 previous stroke victims
  • Stroke costs the US $34 billion each year.
  • Stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability.  More than half of survivors 65+ lose mobility.
  • Stroke costs the United States an estimated $34 billion each year.  This total includes the cost of health care services, medicines to treat stroke, and missed days of work.
  • Risk of having a first stroke is nearly twice as high for blacks as for whites, and blacks have the highest rate of death due to stroke.

I’m writing my book, “In Stroke’s Shadow: My Caregiver Story” because to me, this means the number caregivers for stroke victims is exponentially higher than those who survive stroke. It affects entire families and they’re caught off guard.

My mothers first stroke came out of nowhere. Up until that day, I assumed that at 68, she was perfectly healthy and that I wouldn’t have to worry about her needing my full-time attention for years to come. As soon as it happened, I went looking for books that could shed light on what I could expect. Something to tell me how to navigate the slow recovery process and warn me about other maladies that stroke commonly leads to. How I could steel myself for the long journey ahead.

There were the generational challenges and the real fear of managing healthcare for a mother who didn’t trust the system. For people of color, the system has a history of being dismissive, and even cruel. How was I supposed to handle that?

I came up empty. That’s why I knew writing, “In Stroke’s Shadow” was something I had to do. Particularly as more and more friends and family began consulting me when their loved one suffered a stroke.

Stroke is more common than the media would have you believe. The focus seems to most often be on Alzheimer, cancer and heart attack. But stroke still deserves ample attention, particularly in the African American Community. And even though everyone’s caregiving journey is unique, sharing stories, advice and coping mechanisms within a safe community is one way to lessen anxiety for those who are on this journey.