Please! Just Give Us a Solution!


Please! Just Give Us a Solution!

Last week I shared an article on social media called "Caring for Your Parents Can Put a Dent in Your Budget." The article notes, "More than two-thirds of caregivers (68 percent) report providing financial support related to their role, according to Northwestern Mutual's 2018 C.A.R.E. Study."

After sharing the story, it occurred to me that I recently spoke with a PR person representing Northwestern Mutual about the company's study. The PR person wanted me to write about the study results. For some reason, during this phone call, I really pushed back on the PR person. "What's the news with this study," I asked. "We've long known about the financial stresses of a caregiving experience. What's new in your study?"

As I continued to push back, I finally pushed myself into my true concern. "You're sharing a problem that family caregivers face," I said. "But what's your solution?"

Certainly, the company believes its solution is that we use its services. I get that.

The poor PR person (a nice young woman) finally said, "What solution do you want?"

"Help family caregivers get to our November conference so they can connect to support and help." (I realize some will say my solution is also self-serving. I believe, though, that we create an unusual event that truly benefits family caregivers and former family caregivers. An attendee to last year's conference tweeted this: “Everything about #NCC17 seems like respite care for caregivers: session topics, friendships, practical advice, & healthy, delicious food.”)

So, the PR person agreed to share information about our conference, including sponsoring our conference, with her client. (I'm waiting to hear back.)

The phone call with the PR person brought up a frustration: We hear all the time about the problems and challenges faced by family caregivers. At some point, companies spotlighting our problems without creating accessible, affordable solutions do a tremendous disservice.

My cynical self wonders if some companies take advantage of our problems to advance their agenda -- promoting their own products and services. I wonder about this impact on us. After sharing that article last week on social media, I thought, "Ugh. I'm just sharing bad news after bad news. How is this helpful?" The focus on the problems can create more problems because we can believe we are powerless to the problems.

If a company is aware of a problem that plagues us, why can't they create a socially-responsible solution? What if the company created a solution in which once a year its employees volunteer to help family caregivers in their communities? It's annual "Caregiving Day of Service" could be a chance for its employees to meet with family caregivers to offer free financial planning advice, to give away donated products to financially-strapped family caregivers, to organize a "Caregiving Fair" so family caregivers can connect with services which can help. (We added a Day of Service on the day after our conference to bring a taste of our conference to family caregivers who simply cannot attend our event.)

I am a one-woman show organizing our conference and special events with the help of volunteers. (Thank you @lillie!) I don't work off a budget -- I create these programs with determination and focus. Imagine what a company, with its access to manpower and money, could do.

We live the problems. Let's focus on the solutions. And, let's hold companies accountable for creating solutions rather than promoting problems. Let's ask, "We live the problem. What's your solution that will really help us?"

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