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  • Tony Dillard

Remembering Richard Caster: A Battle with Parkinson’s and Dementia

Updated: Feb 19

Today, we mourn the loss of a football legend, Richard Caster, a three-time Pro Bowler who played for the New York Jets. He passed away after a long battle with Parkinson's disease. His career was illustrious, but his fight against Parkinson’s was equally noteworthy.


football players making a tackle
Thats going to hurt tomorrow.

Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Dementia in the NFL


Richard Caster is not the only NFL player who has battled Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and other forms of dementia. Here are a few others:


  • Mike Webster, a former NFL player who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1974 to 1988. He was known as one of the greatest centers in NFL history and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997. However, in his later years, Webster struggled with dementia and other health issues, which were attributed to his years of playing football.

  • Junior Seau, a former NFL linebacker who played for the San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins, and New England Patriots. He was known for his hard hits and was selected to the Pro Bowl 12 times. However, in 2012, Seau committed suicide, and it was later revealed that he had been diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease often associated with repeated head injuries.

  • Brett Favre, a former NFL quarterback who played for the Green Bay Packers, New York Jets, and Minnesota Vikings. He was known for his durability and toughness on the field, but in recent years, he has spoken openly about the toll that playing football has taken on his body and brain. In 2020, Favre revealed that he had been diagnosed with multiple concussions and had experienced memory loss and other symptoms of dementia.

  • Tony Dorsett, a former NFL running back who played for the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos. He was known for his speed and agility on the field and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1994. However, in 2013, Dorsett revealed that he had been diagnosed with signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which he attributed to his years of playing football.

  • John Mackey, a former NFL tight end who played for the Baltimore Colts and San Diego Chargers from 1963 to 1972. He was known for his powerful running and receiving abilities and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1992

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in 2017, out of 202 deceased American football players whose brains were donated for research, 177 had evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease that can cause dementia and other cognitive problems.


The Cost of Dementia Care


Caring for someone with dementia, including Parkinson’s, can be financially challenging. In 2023, Alzheimer’s and other dementias cost the nation $345 billion2. The average costs for long-term care range from $1,603 per month for adult day care to $8,821 per month for nursing home care2. The nationwide average cost of home care provided by a nonmedical health aide is $24 per hour.


Funding Long-Term Care


There are several ways to fund the unexpected need for long-term care:


  • Traditional Long-Term Care Insurance: This insurance is designed to cover the costs of long-term care that aren’t covered by regular health insurance3. The cost of long-term care insurance varies based on factors such as your age and health.

  • Long-Term Care Annuities: These are deferred fixed annuities with a long-term care rider that provides enhanced coverage for potential long-term care expenses56. An annuity with a long-term care rider will provide double (200%) to triple (300%) your initial deposit.

  • Life Insurance with Long-Term Care Riders: These are life insurance policies with a long-term care rider attached. The payout from this type of insurance can be used toward a nursing home, private nurse, or other assisted medical care associated with getting older.


Takeaways


The passing of Richard Caster serves as a reminder of the potential long-term health risks associated with contact sports like football. It’s crucial for players, coaches, and fans to be aware of these risks and advocate for player safety.


Moreover, the high cost of dementia care underscores the need for comprehensive health care policies and support systems for those affected by these conditions. As individuals and as a society, we must work towards ensuring that everyone has access to the care they need.


Finally, let’s remember Richard Caster not just for his prowess on the field, but for his courage off it. His battle with Parkinson’s disease is a testament to his strength and resilience. Our thoughts are with his loved ones during this difficult time.



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