Life Matters Media
Quality of life at the end of life

Do You Know Someone Like Julianne?

Consider The Question By Taking The Animated ‘Do You Care’ Challenge

BY DANIEL GAITAN | daniel@lifemattersmedia.org

Interactive animation is illuminating the struggles of millions of millennial caregivers, and the project just might stir up some empathy among these caregivers’ employers and friends.

As young Americans rise to the challenge of caring for aging and ill loved ones, two nonprofits are collaborating to educate the public about their struggles.

AARP and United Way Worldwide launched the new “Do You Care Challenge,” an animated online tool that helps users get a sense of what a typical day is like for stressed-out family caregivers.

The program was developed to raise awareness about the growing number of millennials (adults 18-34) who are family caregivers, and to encourage employers to create more caregiving-friendly work spaces.

Julianne from the “Do You Care Challenge”

There are approximately 10 million millennial caregivers in the U.S., according to AARP, and many of them are employed full- or part-time. The average millennial caregiver has been caring for a loved one for about three years.

The “Do You Care Challenge” walks users through the different lives of four young caregivers. It explains the diverse scenarios of these characters, prompting users with questions regarding how they would advise the caregiver to make a decision or overcome an obstacle. The right answers are, as in real life, often unclear.

For example, “Julianne” is a 26-year-old single mother who works two jobs, one in an office and another in retail. She is tasked with watching out for “Aunt Mary,” who suffers from crippling arthritis.

Julianne, whose own mother lives two hours away, struggles to bring her aunt the groceries which Mary urgently needs – and make it to work on time.

“I notice you get a lot of phone calls at work that don’t seem to be work-related. Is this going to be an ongoing problem?” Julianne’s boss wants to know.

Julianne worries about losing her job. She’s also worried about disappointing her aunt, as well as her mom. Her feelings are layered and complex, and she feels guilty about sometimes resenting her obligations. Julianne’s social life is non-existent.

“Millennial caregivers face unique challenges, as their peers often do not relate to their experiences and bosses may not expect them to be providing care for an adult loved one,” Bob Stephen, AARP vice president of health and caregiving programs, told Life Matters Media. “Raising awareness of the issues millennial caregivers face is the first step towards creating a more supportive environment.”

The challenge also provides links to other online resources and the contact information of programs offering help.

Cheryl Petersen, a clinical assistant professor of nursing at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wis., said millennials shouldn’t solely see caregiving as a burden. Petersen helps her father care for her mother, who lives with Parkinson’s disease.

“It’s not easy,” the registered nurse said. “But my main message is the importance of compassion. These are people you love. That’s where I get the reward, knowing how well my mom took care of me when I was young. My parents have both been so supportive throughout my journey through life. Caregiving is my way of giving back to them.”