These glimpses into the lives of caregivers prove they're real unsung heroes.
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Ad Council + AARP

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

All GIFs via Ad Council/YouTube.

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.

So let's take a moment to truly recognize and appreciate caregivers everywhere — they deserve it.

Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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