Older adults are at high risk for stroke and falls, both of which require a large amount of informal caregiving. However, the economic burden of informal caregiving associated with stroke and fall history is not well known.
Using the 2010 Health and Retirement Study, data on non-institutionalized adults aged ≥65 years (N=10,129) in 2015–2017 were analyzed. Two-part models were used to estimate informal caregiving hours. Based on estimates from the models using a replacement cost approach, the authors derived informal caregiving hours and costs associated with falls in the past 2 years for stroke and non-stroke persons.
Both the prevalence of falls overall and of falls with injuries were higher among people with stroke than those without (49.5% vs 35.1% for falls and 16.0% vs 10.3% for injurious falls, p<0.01). Stroke survivors needed more informal caregiving hours than their non-stroke counterparts, and the number of informal caregiving hours was positively associated with non-injurious falls and even more so with injurious falls. The national burden of informal caregiving (2015 U.S. dollars) associated with injurious falls amounted to $2.9 billion (95% CI=$1.1 billion, $4.7 billion) for stroke survivors (about 0.5 million people), and $6.5 billion (95% CI=$4.3 billion, $8.7 billion) for those who never had a stroke (about 3.6 million people).
In U.S. older adults, informal caregiving hours and costs associated with falls are substantial, especially for stroke survivors. Preventing falls and fall-related injuries, especially among stroke survivors, therefore has potential for reducing the burden of informal caregiving.