'Waiting for Superman' -- The Caregiver Version
The synopsis for the film says, "When disaster strikes in America, heroes rush in. We've seen it time and again: when all seems lost real life supermen (and women) step in to save the day. But what if, right now, there is a hidden catastrophe spreading quietly and insidiously through our nations cities, towns and communities -- and yet we have the power to stop it? What if our children and their futures were in peril? Who will become a hero now?"
Now replace "children" with "elders" and consider these facts:
- More than 65 million people, 29% of the U.S. population, provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend during any given year and spend an average of 20 hours per week providing care for their loved one.
- The value of unpaid, informal caregiving is estimated at $375 billion per year.
- The impact on employers of caregivers is $33.6 billion in lost productivity annually, or an average of $2,111 per employed caregiver.
This Engage: Boomers post is a very personal one. For the past five years, I have been engaged in caregiving for three family members. It has been a true collision of my work with older consumers and my personal life. And with all the knowledge and experts that my career has brought me, it is the most difficult lifestage I have ever navigated. So with all the debate this last year about health care, we are left to wonder, where is caregiving's superman/woman?
This isn't asked facetiously. As longevity increases, the boomer generation could be engaged in caregiving for elders and/or their spouse for 20 years of their lives. The information, products and services to assist caregivers remains fragmented and is often contradictory. This is an enormous opportunity for brand heroes to address what may be the biggest pain point for boomers (other than financing their retirement.)
When entrepreneurs ask where to engage in the "boomer market opportunity," my first response is: "caregiving." The analogy is, who will own caregiving the way Johnson & Johnson's BabyCenter owns the motherhood lifestage? The potential cast of characters is broad: publishers, aging-in-place tech companies, pharma, health plans, health care providers, housing developers, contractors, care/case managers, authors, the government.
There are strong players in this space, like caring.com. There is a lack of understanding that the needs and issues for caregivers are broad, and their time is precious. There is a need to aggregate services and provide complete solutions for caregivers.
At the end of the day, few companies really understand the emotions of this lifestage so the products and communication do not resonate or even reach the target. Brands, there are few consumer pain points that are stronger than love, guilt, time and money. Superman, where are you?