Monday, February 11, 2013

AARP, Ad Council launch new national multimedia PSA campaign to offer resources, support to 42 million caregivers

From AARP:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — More than half of America’s boomer caregivers, ages 40 to 60, need support and help, according to a new survey conducted by AARP and the Ad Council. The survey coincides with the launch of a new multimedia public service advertising (PSA) campaign created to provide information and support to the more than 42 million unpaid caregivers nationwide, many of whom feel isolated and alone in caring for their loved ones. The new Caregiver Assistance PSAs, created pro bono by ad agency Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners (BSSP), illustrate the physical, emotional and mental strain on caregivers, communicating that there is help and “together we can be stronger.”

Family support is critical to the care needed for older adults as they age, but often comes at substantial cost to those providing care. In 2009, there were roughly 42 million unpaid caregivers in the United States, providing an estimated $450 billion worth of unpaid care to adult and aging relatives and friends. A popular misconception is that family caregivers are paid health professionals, providing full-time care to someone in need of daily help, when in reality, most caregivers are also working and managing their own families at the same time. In fact, many caregivers are women of the “sandwich” generation, who care for their kids and their aging parents at the same time.

Caregiving is a major commitment and can be complex and highly stressful work. However, because many family caregivers think they are just doing their duty as a daughter or son, a wife or husband or a friend helping out someone they love, they do not identify themselves as caregivers and as a result, feel isolated and do not recognize there are resources to help them.

“Only those who care for others know what it’s really like to care for others. That’s why we created a community where caregivers can connect with experts and others facing similar challenges,” said Barry Rand, CEO of AARP. “We hope this campaign will help the millions of family caregivers in the U.S. feel heard and supported, in turn, helping them better care for themselves and for the ones they love.”

The new television, radio, print, outdoor and digital PSAs portray the isolation, sense of responsibility, and frustration a caregiver feels with an affirming depiction of family caregivers in typical situations with their loved ones, assuring families in the United States that they are not alone in their struggle, and communicating that AARP has set up a community of experts and other caregivers to “help each other better care for ourselves and the ones we love.” The PSAs encourage caregivers to access these tools by visiting or calling a toll-free hotline at 877-333-5885.

The national survey, released today, shows that 63 percent of caregivers spend, on average, nine or more hours a week providing care to an adult over the age of 50 and nearly one in three (31 percent) describe the task as extremely or very difficult. Most notably, nearly one in three (30 percent) caregivers also has experienced some feelings of isolation. Additionally, 1 in 4 caregivers (26 percent) do not feel confident that they know where to go to find the support and information available to unpaid caregivers, while one in five caregivers (21 percent) do not feel like they have the support they need when it comes to caring for a family member or friend.

“We’re proud to join with AARP on this important and moving campaign aimed to bring awareness to the issue of caregiving,” said Peggy Conlon, President and CEO of the Ad Council. “Our research shows that caregivers feel alone and don’t know where to turn for help. Our PSAs and the wonderful resources and network provided by AARP have the potential to change that.”

A social media program kicking off this week will broaden the reach to campaign audiences on social networking sites and blogs nationwide. Caregivers can visit for campaign resources and to find a community of other family caregivers like themselves.

"This campaign has been a labor of love for our agency. The idea of dramatizing a caregiver’s inner most feelings of isolation and frustration through the technique of a ‘silent scream’ we believe gets to the heart of the issue in a very emotional and powerful way," said BSSP Managing Director, Patrick Kiss.

The Caregiver Assistance PSAs will be distributed to media outlets nationwide beginning this week. Per the Ad Council model, the PSAs will air and run in advertising time and space that is donated by the media. The telephone survey, commissioned by the Ad Council and AARP, was conducted in partnership with Robinson & Muenster Associates. Research was conducted nationwide from July 14 to July 27, 2012. The sample consisted of 500 adults, ages 40 to 60, currently caring for an older adult.