Mom got diagnosed with Primary Progressive MS when I was nine. For 25 years, I barely told anyone.
For every milestone in life, we prepare. Parenthood, college, career. But no one prepares you for taking care of a sick parent. Nobody prepares you for the stress, the sleepless nights, the raw fear, and the loneliness.
The healthcare industry calls us caregivers. I didn’t learn that term until last year. Sometimes people ask me if I’m the “primary caregiver.” I have no idea what that means.
Mom is a fighter and manages a lot herself. She has fantastic daytime and nighttime helpers. My stepdad and sisters pitch in. But she’s my best friend and I’m her “project manager” — that’s the term I think is most fitting when I consider my role.
We talk daily about what’s going on and where things stand. I spend hours a week researching options, worrying about what-ifs, and making secret plans for if things go sideways.
In starting Wellthy, I started sharing my story. And in sharing my story, I started hearing others’ stories.
“No way, your mom has MS? How have we never talked about this?!
My mom has MS too.”
It was strange. Everyone I knew and everyone I talked with about Mom had, at some point, been involved with caring for an aging or sick relative. My emotions and struggles weren’t unique to me — they were shared by so many others, too.
Why don’t we talk about this?
Are we shamed into feeling like we’re supposed to figure it out ourselves? We don’t want to burden others with our family tragedies?
It’s too bad. Because there are so many best practices and shortcuts I wish I had been told, that I’m sure others could benefit from hearing about too.
My cofounder calls it a “silent crisis” — we have a massive aging population, an incredibly complex healthcare system, sick people living longer with their diseases, and people living farther away from their families. This is an impending perfect storm. And no one is talking about it.
That’s why we started Wellthy.
Wellthy brings together elder and chronic care resources — the experts, professionals, and services — all in one place. We have a DIY platform for care management and a premium service to handle everything for you. Wellthy is about taking better care of our loved ones and taking better care of ourselves.
We’re excited and honored to formally launch Wellthy this week at TechCrunch Disrupt.
Our company is is important. Eldercare needs to be modernized and organized. And we’ve only just begun. But more than the company, we hope to spark an important dialogue.
There’s so much that can be done if we only start talking to one another, and bringing together the right pieces of the puzzle. If we don’t do something soon, we’ll face a massive public crisis and a really big bill.