Exploring the Caregiver Caring for the Aged: Experience through Social Media Forum
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Purpose: In 2030, the United States will face a caregiver deficit. Currently, family members are taking on the role of unpaid caregiver as a key component to the American Healthcare system. Many family members take on this role out of love and familial obligation. As families assume this daunting task, they also take on a level of intense caregiver burden that causes stress on the caregiver in multiple aspects of their life. The purpose of this research is to explore and describe how caregivers use social media forums to address the financial, physical, mental, and relationship stresses of caregiving. By examining social media forums, this research describes the issues of the current caregiving environment. As the need for more caregivers' increases with the retirement and health decline of the Baby Boomer generation, the public policy implications increase as well. The American Healthcare System, public policy, and senior care public programs are behooved to reform as caregiver burdens and resources become limited. Methodology: The literature identified the categories of caregiver burden: relationship burden, financial burden, and health concerns. These three categories were used to explore social media forum Aging.com Caregiver Forum. The forum is used by caregivers where they connect, seek advice, and relate about their caregiving experiences. The framework developed from the literature divides caregiver questions and responses into the three categories included in this research. The subcategories included under the relationship burden, financial burden, and health concerns are displayed in the results data, where the question, answers, and number of likes and comments were analyzed. Findings: Caregivers used Aging.com Caregiver Forum to ask each questions and gather recommendations. Many caregivers utilized this social media outlet as a support group. The topics and subcategories were divided to show where caregivers are experiencing the most burdens. Financial and Relationship burdens were clearly identified in this research. This explains the challenges caregivers face with the family dynamics, as well as the financial constraints and stress in the caregiving experience. As the Baby Boomer Generation increases in age and declines in health, public policy and programs will need to adapt to this growing scarcity of unpaid informal family caregivers.