Caring for her grandma revealed an underappreciated task almost all caregivers have to do.

When Miles Taylor was a teenager, she and her little brother moved in with their grandma Betty, who essentially became a single parent at nearly 80 years old.

An untenable family situation prompted the change, which Betty took in stride. It was a move that must have taken some "grit and guts and probably a real fine-tuned sense of humor" on Betty's part, says Taylor.

Taylor is now a sociologist at Florida State University. She says Betty, who died in 2015 at the age of 100, was a huge influence in her life. Betty was resilient, quick-witted, compassionate, and could at times be incredibly stubborn (as the doctor who tried to get Betty to stop eating candy learned). "And she had an unbelievable capacity for love," says Taylor.


Miles Taylor and her grandma Betty. Photos used with permission.

As Betty got older, she started needing some extra help, and Taylor was there to contribute.

"It was small things in the beginning," Taylor says. "She needed help putting up a Christmas tree. Then, as she got a bit older, she needed help with getting groceries delivered." Taylor, her brother, friends, and neighbors all helped out.

Then, in 2011, when Betty was about 96, she fell and broke a bone in her back. Taylor knew that from then on, Betty would need a lot more than just help with the Christmas tree, so she stepped into the role of Betty's full-time caregiver.

In 2015, about 1 in 7 American adults served as caregivers for someone over 50, according to an AARP report.

The numbers are even higher if you count those taking care of other recipients, like adults or children with injuries or disabilities. Many of these caregivers are pretty young as well — about a quarter are under 35.

Although many people feel positively about being caretakers, it can be physically, mentally, and emotionally tough work. In fact, there have been many studies and papers about the stresses of being a caretaker.

Most of these studies have focused on the caregivers' relationships or on the stresses around very personal tasks (such as helping people bathe). But when Taylor stepped into this role, she realized there was another, huge aspect of a caregiver's job — one she had known about but couldn't have predicted how stressful it'd be.

Navigating the health care system blindsided Taylor.

Handling Betty's personal care was one thing, but Taylor was surprised at how much time she had to spend just figuring out the health care system. Even as someone who had time and a bit of inside knowledge, it was really difficult.

For example, Taylor knew if Betty was ever to get mobile again after the fall, she'd need rehab to help with strength and balance. But a snafu with how the hospital had listed Betty on their charts meant her insurance wouldn't cover rehab. It took weeks to fix.

"It was very frustrating," Taylor says. Over and over again, she experienced similar issues.

Though Taylor says she was never disappointed in the care Betty received, many of the various institutions — hospitals, insurance agencies, care services — were fragmented. They didn't communicate, which meant the job of sorting everything out fell to Taylor.

When Taylor talked to other caregivers, many of them felt the same way.

Now Taylor has published a paper she hopes will help reveal this invisible workload.

As she cared for Betty, Taylor found support in her friend and colleague Dr. Amélie Quesnel-Vallée of McGill University in Quebec. Quesnel-Vallée was also caring for an older family member — her mother. And though Quesnel-Vallée lives in Canada, they found a lot of similarities in their experiences.

Together, they wrote a scientific paper informed by their own experiences as caregivers, published in The Gerontologist. They're hoping researchers and policymakers will take notice and maybe even make some long-term changes.

"It's important those caregiving hours and that caregiving stress is recognized," says Taylor.

But they also had a message — not just for health care professionals, but for other caregivers too:

"On the more personal side of things, a message we'd like to send out to caregivers themselves is they're not alone," says Taylor.

The AARP report suggested that most caregivers in the U.S. are stepping into this caregiver-plus-case-worker kind of role. It's important for caregivers to know that although it's often invisible, their work is valuable and valued.

Caregiving is hard, often invisible work. Through sharing stories like this, we can help bring it into the light and give it the attention and credit it deserves.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

4-year-old New Zealand boy and police share toys.

Sometimes the adorableness of small children is almost too much to take.

According to the New Zealand Police, a 4-year-old called the country's emergency number to report that he had some toys for them—and that's only the first cute thing to happen in this story.

After calling 111 (the New Zealand equivalent to 911), the preschooler told the "police lady" who answered the call that he had some toys for her. "Come over and see them!" he said to her.

The dispatcher asked where he was, and then the boy's father picked up. He explained that the kids' mother was sick and the boy had made the call while he was attending to the other child. After confirming that there was no emergency—all in a remarkably calm exchange—the call was ended. The whole exchange was so sweet and innocent.

But then it went to another level of wholesome. The dispatcher put out a call to the police units asking if anyone was available to go look at the 4-year-old's toys. And an officer responded in the affirmative as if this were a totally normal occurrence.

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