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  • Writer's pictureJenny Rozelle, Host of Legal Tea

Current Trends - Using TikTok to Highlight Caregiving - Episode 137


Hey there, Legal Tea Listeners –This is your host, Jenny Rozelle. Welcome back for another Legal Tea episode today, episode one hundred and thirty-seven! Today’s episode is a “current trends” episode where we talk about things going on currently that is relevant and pertinent to my estate and elder law world, and/or maybe things I’ve seen on the news or stumbled across on social media that are also relevant to my estate/elder law world. Well, on today’s “current trends” episode, we’re going to chat about utilizing social media, specifically a platform like TikTok, to share “the behind the scenes” of caregiving. You know, this episode was really inspired by a specific account that is ran by a daughter – her Mom has Alzheimer’s Disease and the daughter and her Dad (the Mom’s husband) do most of the caregiving. It’s a really sweet account, if you care to check it out, the account name is MollyBellDeaton.

Truth be told, she’s one of many accounts that is highlighting the journey of caregiving – it’s not always caregiving for cognitive impairment either, of course, but for whatever reason, I see her account and her TikToks fairly often. You know what they say – the phones know us, right? It probably knows I sit there and watch her full videos, so every time she posted a new TikTok, it feeds me their content. Anyway, what I enjoy about her account is that … her videos are usually positive and sometimes a little funny. Of course, the topic of Alzheimer’s and caregiving, in general, are serious subjects – and sometimes even sad and dark and frustrating. And we’re going to talk about that in a bit – that, we need to also remember that even through the positive and funny TikToks, caregiving is hard and it’s only human to feel sad and frustrated too.

Transparently, I actually, for the life of me, could not remember her account’s name – so I searched “Alzheimer’s caregiver daughter” to see if it would pop up. And I tell you what! There are A LOT of accounts “out there” highlighting caregiving – I’m certainly not an expert on this, but it almost feels like a community on there, which even if the content creators on there don’t know each other, I’m certain there are SO MANY people that faithfully watch their videos, and many, I wonder and bet, probably have some type of personal experience with caregiving – and/or perhaps helping with loved ones battling some type of medical diagnosis, like cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s.

With Molly’s account, her mother, Patty, was diagnosed with early onset of Alzheimer’s– she currently is in Stage 6. Patty’s husband and Molly’s dad, Mark, is part of her account and videos, too. Patty still lives at home – so Mark is likely the primary caregiver to Patty and it sounds/appears like Molly is a caregiver, too, and probably immensely helped her Mom AND Dad. In fact, I know she does – because one of her most watched videos that has like over 14 Million views on TikTok shows her and her Mom at a neurology doctor’s appointment. In another of Molly’s videos, where she really sort of formally introduces herself and her parents, Mark and Patty, she shares in it that, “her account is just a space where she hopes they can be completely transparent … and share the ins and outs.” She goes on to say it’s not “just about her Mom, Patty” but also how her Mom’s diagnosis affects the entire family.

You may be wondering or thinking … if it’s weird or a violation of her Mom’s privacy to so publicly share these videos. There may be something there, but Molly says that many of her videos she’s had for years – and she hesitated for a long time about sharing them. Though, she says that she feels “it’s the best thing to do because she knows how she felt when the symptoms were really starting to happen – and in those times, she felt lonely and isolated.” So, it’s her hope that the videos she shares gives out some help – some “tips, tricks, and ideas” as she calls them – that her and her family have learned along the way. She concludes by saying that she hopes her videos “bring light and support to others.” You know, I think that’s really admirable. I remember hearing in one of her videos that her Mom was a teacher – that, she retired from teaching. If she’s anything like all of my teachers and the teachers I know, teachers have a heart of gold – and her Mom would probably be just fine with it.

Now, when some think of Alzheimer’s, they think of someone fairly old … in a facility … walking around … etc, right? Well, if you don’t check out Molly’s account, Patty is not that. She’s on the younger side – I actually had to dig for a bit to figure out how old. Molly said she’s currently 65 (here in 2024), but was officially diagnosed in 2020, so diagnosed closer to 60ish. Though, she shared that her Mom actually starting showing symptoms at 55. Like I said earlier, she lives at home with Mark. Well … anyway …you know, as much flack at social media, and especially TikTok gets, it’s things like what I’m about to share that remind me that it sure can be used for good things too. Molly, in another video, shared an idea that her and her family came up with – that, they created a little card (it’s shaped like a business card) that they keep on them and hand out in public. They have this/do this because Patty does look great for her age – and many people have no idea she suffers from Alzheimer’s.

Well, this card says, “Hello!” and has Patty’s name on it on the front. Then, on the back, it gives a short little bio of Patty and explains that she has Alzheimer’s. Molly reads what it says about her Alzheimer’s diagnosis and I wanted to put it “out there for my Legal Tea Listeners” in case this may be helpful. It says, “I have recently been diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease. My family would greatly appreciate your understanding, patience, and compassion.” Molly says that say, for example, they’re at a restaurant, they can hand the card discreetly to the server … or if they’re at a store and someone is assisting them, they can hand it discreetly to the person helping … just to “let them know” and ultimately, helps all around. Helps Molly and family with the stress they are feeling – that way, they don’t have to verbally explain what’s going on IN FRONT of Patty. And it also helps whoever they’re handing it to. She says people’s responses are always amazing.

While I have no personal experience with Alzheimer’s, I certainly help a lot of clients and families with navigating legal affairs as it may relate to a diagnosis. Whether it’s still “okay” to get basic estate documents in place or maybe, if we’re in later stages, we may have to be looking at and considering, say, a guardianship process to get someone in a position to be able to make decisions on behalf of their loved one. So, I think that’s why I’ve sort of become a big fan of accounts like Molly’s – not only is it getting tips (like this little card idea) out to the general public to help, but her account and videos also really highlight those navigating a caregiving journey, which has to be one of the most difficult things in the world to do. By the way, before I forget to mention it, I did put a direct link to Molly’s account in the source links for this episode. Though, it’s pretty easy to just go to the app and type in MollyBellDeaton into the search bar. Her videos will warm your heart – her Mom excretes warmth and positivity. So sweet!

As we get into the last phase of this episode, I think I just wanted to spend some time sharing some statistics and information about caregiving – which, like I said, is one of the most difficult things in the world to do. When I went to pull a few statistics, I was drawn to an article that the CDC put out that was called, “Caregiving for Family and Friends – A Public Health Issue.” It was a fascinating read, so I’ll put a link to it, too, in the source links. So, according to the CDC, they reported that 20% of adults reported they provided care or assistance to a family member or friend in the past 30 days. Even more specifically, of those caregivers, 1 in 3 (so a bit over 30%) provided 20 or more hours per week of care and assistance – and over half (50%) have been caregiving for more than two years.

Of these numbers, this counts ALL types of caregivers – caregiving comes in many different shapes and sizes. And like I always tell my clients, I am equally, if not more, concerned about the caregiver than the caregivee. I’m not sure if caregivee is a word, but I’m going with it. I worry about the Mark (Patty’s husband here … Molly’s dad) … and his health, both physical and mental health, and I worry about Molly and her sibling, too. This stuff impacts EVERYONE, but I often see, at least in my estate and elder law practice, that sometimes things happen to the caregivers – whether it be physically or even like financially, or maritally. I’ve seen caregiving impact marriages and cause divorces. The impact is so widespread, right? And I think that is exactly what Molly’s account – and like I said earlier, there are so many other accounts out there – but all those accounts do – it not only humanizes caregiving, but also shares tips, tricks, and ideas that very well may help the caregiver.

Now, I say all of this and I’m writing this episode ALL WHILE Congress is actively considering sending a bill to President Biden’s desk to ban TikTok. So, my timing of this episode could turn out to be TERRIBLE, if they do indeed ban TikTok. Though, if they don’t, well – consider that silly app to be a resource for you and not just something that the young kids use! But if they do ban it, know there are resources like this on EVERY social media platform. I know Instagram has started doing “reels” which are essentially TikTok videos – I’m certain there are resources on Twitter/X, Facebook, LinkedIn, all the things.

Alrighty, let’s wrap this episode up, shall we? Next week, we’re back to the “celebrity estate planning” type of episode – and during those types of episodes, we dive into a celebrity or “big name” person that has passed away and how their estate looked from an estate planning perspective. Next week’s episode is about Joe Robbie’s Estate – as in Joe Robbie with the Miami Dolphins. We’ll get into him more next week, but I actually heard about his looney estate saga recently and was like, “Oh, I have to dive into that!” So tune in to that episode next week, Legal Tea Listeners, talk to you then and stay well!

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