Real Celebrity: Extended care, part 1

Role models

Pat Summitt with Vince Doley (AP photo/John Bazemore) Pat Summitt with Vince Doley (AP photo/John Bazemore)

We've always admired celebrity in this country. After all, we're the birthplace of the "American Dream"-- that ability to rise above one's circumstances through hard work-- so it's no surprise we reward those who've succeeded at it.

However, accident and illness do not discriminate between rich or poor, famous or obscure.

What can we learn about extended care from our celebrity role models?

Quite a bit, it turns out. When we survey many of the top causes of extended care, we find identifiable figures associated with each.

Here's the first part of a version of a review I put together for members of my own company's distribution team.

Pat Summitt, Alzheimer's

Winningest basketball coach-- male or female-- in NCAA history, and winner of eight national titles, Pat Summitt at the age of 59 became another casualty in our failure to prevent or cure early-onset dementia.

No disease is more feared in this country than dementia such as Alzheimer's-- and with good reason. Every 68 seconds, someone in the US develops Alzheimer's, our nation's sixth leading cause of death.

Coach Summitt has been courageous and candid about documenting life since her diagnosis in her book, "Sum it Up." 

She has also established the Pat Summitt Foundation, a non-profit that will raise money for education and research to fight Alzheimer's as well as support individuals and families struggling with the disease.

They can use all the help they can get: Americans provided nearly 18 billion hours of unpaid care in 2012 to people with Alzheimer's, a contribution valued at over $216 billion.

Jack Osbourne: Multiple sclerosis

Nervous system disorders such as Parkinson's, MS and ALS comprise nearly 20 percent of nursing facility claims -- and a large rate of home & community based claims for those under 65.

Jack Osbourne (AP photo/Dan Steinberg)

The scion of a world-famous family, Mr. Osbourne reminds us that extended care is not solely an issue of the elderly. In fact, 46 percent of claims are incurred by those under the age of 65.

Diagnosed three weeks after the birth of his first daughter, Jack was just 26 years old when the news came. He'd sought tests after losing 60 percent of the vision in his right eye earlier in the year. He later admitted ignoring symptoms for several years.

MS can have a wide range of symptoms, including tiredness, temporary blindness, loss of co-ordination and speech difficulties. It is an unpredictable disease which affects everyone differently.

One in five sufferers has a benign form with mild attacks and no permanent disability, while another 15 percent have a progressive disease that steadily worsens.

Next week: Read about how two other celebrities have used extended care.

See also:

 

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