Lessons From A Millennial Caregiver
Jacquelyn Revere was just 29 when she started caring for her mom with Alzheimer’s and her grandmother with dementia. She was pursuing an acting career in New York when her mom’s cognitive abilities declined to the point that she needed full-time support. So Jacquelyn put her life on hold and flew back home to California.
Jacquelyn is among the more than 50 million Americans who are unpaid caregivers for someone over the age of 50. And while many of those caregivers are middle-aged or older, almost a quarter of them are millennials like Jacquelyn.
When she arrived back home, she was overwhelmed by new responsibilities: providing all the physical care her mother and grandmother needed to get through the day and overseeing her mother’s financial affairs, which had slipped into disarray.
“I ended up burning myself out,” she said. “My hair started falling out. What needed to have been done within a year, I probably tried to get done in four months.” Hiring help proved difficult, and she found herself racing to arrange care on her own. “I was still thinking that I could return to my life.”
The abrupt shift and newfound stress took their toll, and Jacquelyn says she fell into a severe depression. Depression and anxiety are higher among caregivers than non-caregivers, according to a wealth of research. Two of Jacquelyn’s friends from New York offered to pay for mental health counseling, a gift that became a lifeline for Jacquelyn.
She also discovered an outlet for her creativity and a source of community on TikTok. She first gained a following for videos she made about having a stutter, but drew even greater attention when she began posting about her experience as a caregiver.
@momofmymom Waiting for someone to ask why I don’t just have her sit down😅#momofmymom #dementia #alzheimer ♬ Stories 2 - Danilo Stankovic
Some of her posts are hilarious and absurd, some offer practical advice, and some are poignant and reflective. The comments are often from other caregivers recognizing their own struggles or breakthroughs. Jacquelyn recently helped arrange a fundraiser that distributed $400 to 25 of her followers, intending to give them the gift of self-care that her friends gave to her.
Jacquelyn spoke with Kitty Eisele about her caregiving journey on Twenty-Four Seven: A Podcast About Caregiving. You can subscribe for new episodes on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or any other podcast app.