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As many seniors and caregivers know, in recent years the Starz network had on its schedule Boss, a show that dealt with a man discovering he had the neurological disorder - Lewy body dementia (LBD). Although the series helped spread awareness of a disease that is fairly common but relatively unknown to the public, it also created controversy among the LBD community. Some felt that its portrayal of the disorder and its progression was unrealistic and didn’t paint an accurate picture of what it’s like to live with a person suffering from this difficult disorder.

Nobody has ever accused the entertainment industry of being faithful to the truth, especially when it comes to matters concerning health and caregiving. Even in TV series which do a generally good job of showing caregiving in a realistic light, truth is often sacrificed to create better drama or comedy. But there have been some TV series that do a better job than others of capturing a caregiver’s life.

Friday Night Lights

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This critically acclaimed drama largely centers around a high school football team. One of the leading characters, Matt Saracen, spent several seasons helping to care for his ailing grandmother. While the situation did not always keep touch with reality, it most often dealt with many of the joys and struggles that most caregivers experience. Matt’s character exemplified the deep and intense love that many caregivers feel.

Ruth and Erica

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Technically, this isn’t a TV show: it’s a 7-to-8-minute, 13-episode web series on the YouTube WIGS channel; however, this is almost a network-quality production. The storyline concerns an adult daughter, Erica, caring for her elderly parents, one of whom has dementia and the other is not as independent as she once was. Erica’s ambivalent feelings about caregiving are something with which many caregivers can identify with.

Parenthood

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NBC’s Parenthood has done a commendable job in presenting a family’s journey when the mother, Kristina, is diagnosed with breast cancer. One particularly good moment occurs in an episode soon after the diagnosis, when a friend who has been dealing with cancer for a longer time gives Kristina words of advice on what her husband can expect:

“He’s going to want to solve everything…He’ll freak out whenever there’s a left turn, and there are a lot of left turns. He’s going to have a freakin’ heart attack at all the waiting…but he can’t have a heart attack. Because you’re going to need him.”

For those who have become a caregiver in a crisis situation, those words ring very true!

The Closer

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Many children of ill parents live too far away to be on-site caregivers. The demands of long-distance caregiving are different from those of in-home caregiving, as Captain Johnson demonstrated many times throughout the 7-year run of The Closer. Most importantly, Johnson showed that those who are far away can be a major support for those who do “on the ground” caregiving.

These are just a few of the examples of caregivers portrayed on TV. There are others, but the truth is that the television industry still under-represents the lives of caregivers; with an estimated 29% of the adult population involved in family caregiving, there’s clearly an audience out there that would like to see its daily life more frequently and accurately represented. HomeHero’s staff knows that even at their most realistic, television doesn’t capture the full picture of caregiving. These dedicated staff members are available to help provide true-to-life expertise gained from hands-on experience.

Are there shows that portray caregivers in a positive or realistic light? Share your thoughts on Twitter @HomeHero or share a comment of Facebook!

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