These glimpses into the lives of caregivers prove they're real unsung heroes.
You only need a day to see how much caregivers do for their loved ones.
Being a caregiver is a labor of love. More than 40 million Americans do it for no pay and little recognition. So many caregivers started out caring for someone, then stepped up to take care of them.
If we looked into their daily lives, what would we see?
We'd see them keeping up the good memories.
Like Patty and Justin Lancaster, who have a lifetime of great memories from their mom, Lulu. There was no question in their mind that they'd be there for her when she lost most of her short-term memory abilities to Alzheimer's.
"She'll say to me, 'It's so great that you take me to all these places,' and I'll say, 'Mom, you were the one that took all my friends, surfboards, stinky wetsuits, everything, down to the beach at 6 a.m. [and] came back at 6 p.m.' ... She was the perfect mom. So I have no recourse but just to be ... a good son." — Justin
We'd see them doing everything for family.
Brent Hamer takes amazing care of his wife, Ruth, who lost nearly all of her mobility to Parkinson's disease. He does everything from scratching her nose to waking up in the night to turn Ruth over in case she gets uncomfortable. And when he faced a real transportation need, his community recognized his service and stepped up to give back.
"As for me, I feel privileged to be able to do this [for my wife]." — Brent
We'd see them honoring what it means to be a friend.
After their friend Bill suffered a stroke, Donna and Nicki went above and beyond to honor their friendships and stepped in as his caregivers. What better way to show that family is what you make it?
"I honestly get something out of it. ... When you [get to] continue interacting with someone who you've been interacting with for 40 years, it's like a gift." — Donna
Basically, we'd see them caring. A lot.
That's why AARP spent 24 hours filming a day in the life of caregivers of all sorts across the country, giving us snapshots into what they do every single day.
Why do we need to see this? Because caregivers do so much, and it doesn't get enough recognition.
According to a study done by AARP:
- One-quarter of those caregivers have been in their roles for five years or longer.
- Only half of family caregivers say they get unpaid help from another family member or friend.
- On average, caregivers spend 24.4 hours a week providing care to their loved one.
- Nearly one-quarter provide 41 or more hours a week.
That's a lot of care.