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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 studiesand 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.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Co-sleeping isn't for everyone.

The marital bed is a symbol of the intimacy shared between people who’ve decided to be together 'til death they do part. When couples sleep together it’s an expression of their closeness and how they care for one another when they are most vulnerable.

However, for some couples, the marital bed can be a warzone. Throughout the night couples can endure snoring, sleep apnea, the ongoing battle for sheets or circadian rhythms that never seem to sync. If one person likes to fall asleep with the TV on while the other reads a book, it can be impossible to come to an agreement on a good-night routine.

Last week on TODAY, host Carson Daly reminded viewers that he and his wife Siri, a TODAY Food contributor, had a sleep divorce while she was pregnant with their fourth child.

“I was served my sleep-divorce papers a few years ago,” he explained on TODAY. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to us. We both, admittedly, slept better apart.”

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