When dementia set in, her mother needed constant care. What’s a daughter to do?
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Ad Council + AARP

Dorothy Hampton Marcus was always ahead of her time, participating in the civil rights movement and later writing about the South she'd experienced under Jim Crow laws.

Her daughter, Kaypri, didn't see that side of her at first. Growing up, Dorothy's bookshelf was the only clue she had to that life since her mother had thrown herself into the parenting role.


But her mother loved writing and eventually planned to put those experiences into print.

When she retired in her 60s, Dorothy started writing her autobiography. Then the dementia set in.

"It wasn't easy arranging her move across the country," Kaypri says. "Her life, all of a sudden, became a big part of my life."

Kaypri decided she would become her primary caregiver and move in with her as well as help her finish the book.

The book was published in 2014 for Dorothy's 80th birthday and was well received.

Cover image of the book, "I Didn't Know What I Didn't Know."

As Dorothy's dementia progressed, Kaypri continued being her caregiver while keeping up a writing, acting, and producing career of her own.

Being a primary caregiver for anybody is tough, heartbreaking work. But it can also be incredibly rewarding.

Kaypri doesn't see caring as a burden. “I’m the only family she has left," she says. "That woman did everything for me. Now, it’s my turn.”

Since more than 40 million family caregivers help another adult or loved one carry out daily activities, it’s become one of the most important — and often, unsung — roles in our society. It's not easy, though. More than half of family caregivers report being overwhelmed by the needs of their family member.


GIF via Ad Council/AARP.

Here are some self-care tips to keep in mind:

  1. Eat properly. It's so easy to slip into the fast-food lifestyle when life is so demanding, but you'll feel better — and think better — with proper, balanced meals.
  2. Exercise every day. For most of us, it's the first thing that goes out the door.
  3. Take a break outdoors. Being inside all day and night can get to be really harmful to your psyche. See the sun, water, and trees for at least a bit every day.
  4. Sleep. Nap when your loved one naps. Get a full eight hours at night if you can.
  5. Treat yourself. That is, address your own medical and emotional problems that crop up as soon as you can before things get out of hand.

Most important? Ask for help if you're overwhelmed or just need a break.

The number of family caregivers is only going to go up as more Baby Boomers age into retirement.

Kaypri's words in this video about being in that role for her mother are joyful, heartbreaking, lovely, and touching.

But they’re very real.


Kaypri doesn't have kids yet, and if she does, they may not ever meet their grandmother. But her legacy will live on.

"They will know her through her words because she dared to write them down," Kaypri says. "She raised a writer who could finish the story she started."

Several years ago, you wouldn't have known what QAnon was unless you spent a lot of time reading through comments on Twitter or frequented internet chat rooms. Now, with prominent Q adherents making headlines for storming the U.S. Capitol and elements of the QAnon worldview spilling into mainstream politics, the conspiracy theory/doomsday cult has become a household topic of conversation.

Many of us have watched helplessly as friends and family members fall down the rabbit hole, spewing strange ideas about Democrats and celebrities being pedophiles who torture children while Donald Trump leads a behind-the-scenes roundup of these evil Deep State actors. Perfectly intelligent people can be susceptible to conspiracy theories, no matter how insane, which makes it all the more frustrating.

A person who was a true believer in QAnon mythology (which you can read more about here) recently participated in an "Ask Me Anything" thread on Reddit, and what they shared about their experiences was eye-opening. The writer's Reddit handle is "diceblue," but for simplicity's sake we'll call them "DB."

DB explained that they weren't new to conspiracy theories when QAnon came on the scene. "I had been DEEP into conspiracy for about 8 years," they wrote. "Had very recently been down the ufo paranormal rabbit hole so when Q really took off midterm for trump I 'did my research' and fell right into it."

DB says they were a true believer until a couple of years ago when they had an experience that snapped them out of it:

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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.

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via WFTV

Server Flavaine Carvalho was waiting on her last table of the night at Mrs. Potatohead's, a family restaurant in Orlando, Florida when she noticed something peculiar.

The parents of an 11-year-old boy were ordering food but told her that the child would be having his dinner later that night at home. She glanced at the boy who was wearing a hoodie, glasses, and a face mask and noticed a scratch between his eyes.

A closer look revealed a bruise on his temple.

So Carvalho walked away from the table and wrote a note that said, "Do you need help?" and showed it to the boy from an angle where his parents couldn't see.

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Images via Canva and Unsplash

If there's one thing that everyone can agree on, it's that being in a pandemic sucks.

However, we seem to be on different pages as to what sucks most about it. Many of us are struggling with being separated from our friends and loved ones for so long. Some of us have lost friends and family to the virus, while others are dealing with ongoing health effects of their own illness. Millions are struggling with job loss and financial stress due to businesses being closed. Parents are drowning, dealing with their kids' online schooling and lack of in-person social interactions on top of their own work logistics. Most of us hate wearing masks (even if we do so diligently), and the vast majority of us are just tired of having to think about and deal with everything the pandemic entails.

Much has been made of the mental health impact of the pandemic, which is a good thing. We need to have more open conversations about mental health in general, and with everything so upside down, it's more important now than ever. However, it feels like pandemic mental health conversations have been dominated by people who want to justify anti-lockdown arguments. "We can't let the cure be worse than the disease," people say. Kids' mental health is cited as a reason to open schools, the mental health challenges of financial despair as a reason to keep businesses open, and the mental health impact of social isolation as a reason to ditch social distancing measures.

It's not that those mental health challenges aren't real. They most definitely are. But when we focus exclusively on the mental health impact of lockdowns, we miss the fact that there are also significant mental health struggles on the other side of those arguments.

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