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Hollywood Hits Capitol Hill to Help Address the Needs of Caregivers

Some of Hollywood’s leading men and women are using their influence to help address the heavy toll that millions of family caregivers take on every day through a partnership between AARP and the Creative Coalition.

We recently joined forces with The Creative Coalition – a non-profit that brings together members of the entertainment world to educate themselves on political issues, find ways to support issues through the arts, and bring awareness to social welfare issues – to launch the Entertainment Industry Commission on Caregiving.

This initiative works to highlight the challenges that family caregivers face and raises visibility for the pivotal roles they play in society by incorporating caregiving issues into scripts and onto the big screen. The hope is this will educate the public and influencers on this issue.

Together, we’ve fought to bring a much-needed spotlight to these unsung heroes who sacrifice so much for their loved ones. This includes hosting a national teletown hall featuring comedians Jeff Ross and Jesus Trejo discussing their caregiving experiences.

The latest example of our work together came at The Creative Coalition’s annual Gala in Washington D.C. This moving evening brought together award-winning and nominated actors, dozens of Senate and House officials from both sides of the aisle, and AARP staff members.

Among the brightly shining stars in attendance that night were eleven family caregivers who were recognized for their efforts to share their stories publicly. This includes:

  • Abna Apau from Washington, D.C. She worked full-time while being a family caregiver to her late husband and small children. She considers it an honor to have helped him feel cared for and loved during his journey.
  • Melissa Axel and James Jacoby of Los Angeles are family caregivers whose careers in the entertainment industry have taken a back seat while being the primary caregivers for Melissa's mom and late father.
  • Dawnita Brown of Maryland gave up a thriving career to become a full-time family caregiver for her mother. She encourages black daughters caring for their parents to live a life of “self-full-ness” (the sweet spot between selfish and self-less).
  • Lynda Filipek of Denver was a family caregiver who cared for her parents for almost 20 years. Now that they're both gone, she is prioritizing learning how to take care of herself again.
  • Jessica Guthrie of Virginia is an only child and became a family caregiver at the age of 26 for her mother who is living with Alzheimer's Disease. She values this rewarding experience caring for her mom at her most vulnerable moments.
  • Dr. Jim Mangi from Michigan is a retired scientist who says his first career in no way prepared him for his second career as a family caregiver for his wife.
  • Abaree Rayfield moved from Georgia to Ohio to be a family caregiver for her mom, who now lives independently because of the care provided by her daughter.
  • Angie & Phil Roman put their lives on hold to be family caregivers, first in Arizona where her parents lived, and later when they closed their business to move across the country to take care of Phil's mom and dad in Pennsylvania.  
  • Jeff Ray is a retired New York City Firefighter who, like many other Americans, saw the worst life had to offer on 9/11. Unfortunately, today, he and many other family caregivers face an additional and very personal tragedy… caring for someone who has been permanently altered by illness, trauma, or other circumstances.

The important thing to remember is that there are 48 million family caregivers just like these eleven that are holding up our nation’s broken long-term care system.
That’s why I’m very grateful to have The Creative Coalition and its fierce advocates in the corner of family caregivers. They lend an authentic voice and bring a far reach to create the groundswell needed to drive change. And, they further prove that caregiving is a universal experience that confronts everyone, regardless of employment, level of fame, or other factors.

We look forward to the opportunity to continue working with them to get our nation’s leaders to acknowledge the financial, physical, and emotional challenges facing caregivers.

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