Thought Leadership

My Mom, a Caregiver: Portrait of an Overlooked Hero

November 12, 2018
Author: Dawn Slown
My Mom, a Caregiver Portrait of an Overlooked Hero

If you’re like me, you have firsthand experience watching someone you love care for the health of another person. I watched my mother care for her husband of 50 years, who battled cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Every day for nearly 12 years she made sure he was eating right, taking his medications, attending health-related appointments, and purchasing the healthcare products he needed for the day-to-day management of his conditions.

Like many caregivers, my mother was also caring for another family member at the same time. Her father needed help as he dealt with a variety of ailments as he slid into his 90s, and she had to make sure he was getting proper nutrition, accessing wound care, keeping his body active and mobile, and addressing his vision issues. Additionally, while she cared for the two men who meant the world to her, she managed to work part-time and maintain relationships with the rest of her family and friends. She is the matriarch of our family and appeared to handle the stress effortlessly. However, I recently discovered after a heart-felt conversation with her that it was not as effortless as she made it appear.

My mother is an amazing woman and deserved support and care while she cared for her husband and father. Instead, she struggled to find time for herself, was always tired, felt pulled in many directions and never thought she was even adequately providing the care her husband and father needed. She was lost at times as a lack of understanding of medical conditions, medications or side effects prevented her from knowing the best path to take. For example, with the myriad of over-the-counter cough medicines available for purchase, she was afraid that what she chose would interfere with the medications her loved ones were already taking. She needed more guidance and support from the healthcare community.

She is a hidden hero of healthcare and she is not alone—29% of the US population are like her and need a voice. As I began to better understand my mother’s real struggle as a caregiver, I realized there is a sizable healthcare need that is largely being ignored. This need is what led me to conduct this healthcare research, with the idea that the research will provide healthcare marketers a solid baseline to build a strategy to include caregivers and help them navigate the world of caregiving.

This paper will provide:

  • A profile of typical caregivers and the challenges they face
  • An overview of where caregivers consistently need help
  • The opportunities where healthcare marketers, particularly in pharma and consumer healthcare, can connect with caregivers to provide the support they need and, in turn, build brand trust.

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Dawn Slown
Senior Director, Health

Dawn Slown is a former research director in the Health division of Escalent.