These glimpses into the lives of caregivers prove they're real unsung heroes.
True
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.

True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.