The Unrealistic Caregiving Ad: "I'm Keeping Mom Happy"


The Unrealistic Caregiving Ad: "I'm Keeping Mom Happy"

couple-843489_640This morning, at about 5:30 or so, a commercial ran during the morning news that had me shaking my head.

In the ad, individuals who appeared to be just about as healthy as me enjoyed the companionship of sitters from a national home care agency. These individuals, who looked just fantastic, played cards and laughed and enjoyed life with companions hired by their adult children. The voice over during the ad assured me that I would be keeping my mom happy when I hire these companions to be with her.


Well, first, my mom doesn't look like any of the active, healthy individuals receiving companionship in the ad. And, second, my mom would be really unhappy if I hired someone to play cards with her. In fact, she would think I was daft as well as a terrible daughter for not being the one with whom she plays cards.

I'm always quite amazed, in a not-so-good way, at how Madison Avenue portrays caregiving in the media. Stock photos of happy, healthy silver-haired individuals happily receive help and assistance -- help and assistance, by the way, they don't seem to need. And, in the photo, those silver-haired persons with the fantastic dispositions usually sit next to a woman, about my age, who looks pleased as punch with her life. Healthy Living Made Simple, the magazine for Sam's Club members, included an article on caregiving in its latest issue. The stock photo which accompanied the headline, "Tackle the caregiving to-do list", featured a grandson, son and grandfather ecstatic to be fishing. (Thanks so much to @kaz for letting me know about the article, which mentions as a resource.)

I appreciate that medical equipment, disability, waning health and difficult temperaments do not make for sexy advertising. But, the "life is peachy" perspective is a turn-off. Caregiving doesn't look like and certainly doesn't feel like how many ads would lead us to believe.

If you want to really speak and then sell to us, Madison Avenue, then reflect our lives in your ads. Because we're looking for real help not the kind of help that only exists on television.

What do you think? Have you seen an ad which made you wanted to throw a pillow at the television and scream, "That's not how it is!"

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I read this post yesterday (or was it the day before?), but had the AHA! moment today. What was a real problem with all these ads was how it affected my younger brother. He has not had experience with nursing homes or elderly people before our parents reached this stage. He was too young when our grandmother died to remember her nursing home experience. Younger bro saw all the ads and then saw the actual assisted living place and it didn't match up. The assisted living rooms didn't look like the ads for the independent living apartments. It wasn't glamorous at all. \nYounger bro thought we were condemning my parents to an awful place. It's been a challenge to convince him this is a good facility and they are doing fine. As he stays with them when he comes, his emotional reaction (even if he tried to hide it) really had an effect on my parents. It confirmed Mom's feelings of \"we deserve something better\" and just made Dad uncomfortable.


Oddly enough, my mom would appreciate all those ads and photos. She's just disappointed (as she is with most things) that her life doesn't look just like the commercials. She's entitled to have a good life, a good companion (no, she'd rather it not be me), entertainment, and be gorgeous, too. I don't watch TV and rarely have time for a magazine, so I don't have the same reaction. Mom? She wants her life to be like TV.


OH, you hit a sore spot with me on this topic!!! My mom passed away almost 3 years ago. She had COPD and Emphysema. The last 10 years of her life, she spent isolated in her home. Dad was pretty much her only company. She was on oxygen full time and greatly embarrassed to be seen in public, even with a small portable tank (which is ridiculous, and trust me, we argued about that sooooooo many times!). My brother and I tried many, many times to have her consider assisted living, where she could enjoy time with friends and have activities to do...we had even found a couple of places in their area that had nice independent living apartments, so Dad could have moved there, too. We almost had them hooked, but we made the fatal mistake of taking them a brochure first, instead of taking them for a visit first. The brochure had the same stock photos you described - vibrant women with beautiful hair, full makeup, stylish clothes, smiling and playing cards with their friends (and with fresh manicures...) - the men were in starched shirts & ties, smiling and enjoying coffee from a fancy coffee cup, not from a beat up spill-proof travel mug! My folks took one look at that brochure and that was the end of it. So, mom sat at home, bored, lonely and isolated. Fast forward to two months ago and imagine my brother & me trying to start up the assisted living conversation with Dad again! The first thing out of his mouth was not \"Are you sure I can afford it?\" - it was \"Do I have to dress up?\" I assured him he did not, and I made sure he never caught sight of a brochure!!


Yep, I have thought that too. They don't show pictures of us in the bathroom cleaning up poop on our loved one's bottom for the first time thinking... \"I sure didn't sign up for this!\" Or changing a catheter bag, a wet adult diaper, and how about those urine soaked shoes and socks! Granted they couldn't show those things, but they might be able to show a more accurate picture of the stress and exhaustion that goes along with caregiving and how much help is really needed. We don't look like that. We look tired, we are sometimes lucky to be dressed in clean clothes and have our hair combed. I wonder if you could even find a photo of a person who would look relieved that someone could help for a few hours.


Oh, yes, I have had those thoughts about all the nice, cooperative people in the ads. Non of them ever shows you a person having a animated conversation with and empty room, or a nursing home resident helping himself to a handful of ice from your glass of soda while you are holding it (which really happened to me).\n\nAlong the same line is CNA training... at least in my tangential mind today:\nAfter 8 years of caring for my MIL, I went for cna training (cause by chance found out that family members could get paid if had proper certifications so got small per diam for last two years for her LTC insurance.) I digress.\n\nAnyhow, during training you practiced on a dummy caree or a fellow student. Not once did the dummy or student try to hit, pinch, spit at me or stick their hands in their poop! and so on and so on.\n\n\n\n