The Financial Cost of Alzheimer’s and Stroke

Both diseases result in large expenses, seen and unseen…

Deacons should understand the financial impacts of stroke and Alzheimer’s diagnoses to the lives of their members. It is a hefty burden that can be alleviated by the love of the local church family.


First, let’s look at the out-of-pocket cost for Alzheimer’s care over the life of the patient:

How much does an Alzheimer’s diagnosis cost individually? According to the [Alzheimer’s] Association, Alzheimer’s costs $341,000 on average for the health needs of someone from diagnosis to death. Families pay 70 percent of this out of pocket.

This brings the out-of-pocket expenses to $238,700 on average. The average life expectancy for someone diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is 8 to 10 years. This brings a family’s annual out-of-pocket expenses to between $23,870 and $29,838, or between $1,990 and $2,486 a month.


The financial cost of treating a stroke victim depends on the type of stroke they suffer: ischemic or hemorrhagic. A stroke usually begins with a trip to the emergency room, which costs $150 to $3,000 or more. An ambulance ride to get there can cost up to $2,000 or more.

The hospital stay duration and cost differ depending on the type of stroke. Ischemic stroke victims on average stay 5.6 days and are charged $9,100. Hemorrhagic stroke victims stay 8.4 days at a cost of $19,500.

The victims of ischemic stroke are administered bloodthinners to remove clots. The cost of these intravenous injections can range from $2,200 to $6,000, depending on the quantity and form of drug administered while in the hospital.

If angioplasty or stents are administered as treatment for ischemic stroke victims, those costs will range from $11,000 to $41,000. Diagnostic scans will be performed, which can range from cheap blood tests, moderately expensive CT scans for up to $1,000, to expensive MRI scans for up to $5,000.

The total costs of stroke treatment and recovery can easily exceed $18,000 for an optimistic case in which minimum treatment is required.

One study from 2013 reports similar findings:

Among the 97,374 hospitalizations (average cost: $20,396 ± $23,256), the number with ischemic, hemorrhagic, or other strokes was 62,637, 16,331, and 48,208, respectively, with these types having average costs, in turn, of $18,963 ± $21,454, $32,035 ± $32,046, and $19,248 ± $21,703. A majority (62%) of the hospitalizations had stroke listed as a secondary diagnosis only. Regression analysis found that, overall, hemorrhagic stroke cost $14,499 more than ischemic stroke (P < .001).

Notice the wide variation in the average cost. The variations are larger than the average costs.

These costs are reduced if the patient has health insurance that will cover a large portion.


Victims of stroke and Alzheimer’s can be financially wiped out if they do not have health insurance. The medical costs are just too high.

But it’s not just the financial costs that are devastating. The caregiving incurs emotional and spiritual costs. It is usually wives and daughters who end up as the caregivers of Alzheimer’s victims. Wives also become unable to work at a time when they need to replace their husband’s income.

Prevention is one way to avoid incurring these financial burdens.

People should take practical preventative measures to reduce their probability of having a stroke.

There is no consensus on how to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. But the idea that Alzheimer’s is actually Type 3 diabetes is gaining traction. A Psychology Today article recommends a diet low in carbohydrates as a way to prevent the disease:

Eating too many of the wrong carbohydrates too often is what causes blood sugar and insulin levels to rise, placing us at high risk for insulin resistance and Alzheimer’s Disease. Our bodies have evolved to handle whole food sources of carbohydrates like apples and sweet potatoes, but they simply aren’t equipped to cope with modern refined carbohydrates like flour and sugar. Simply put, refined carbohydrates cause brain damage.

Deacons would be wise to inform their congregation members of the costs associated with these diseases and encourage them to implement the preventative measures linked to in these articles.