CarePond, Inc. today launched its new website CarePond.com – the first free and secure online community for informal caregivers – any spouse, partner, family member, friend, or neighbor taking care of an aging, ill, or disabled loved one.
As the 78 million baby boomers age, they continue to shape the U.S. healthcare system, particularly long-term care. Close to 70% of boomers are expected to need long-term care, and many of them will rely on family caregivers to support them. But according to Family Caregiver Alliance, 40 – 70% of family caregivers have symptoms of depression, and an estimated 17% of caregivers feel their health in general has gotten worse as a result of their caregiving responsibilities.
The future of our healthcare system is dependent on the health of these informal workers, yet no one is looking out for them. That's why CarePond is dedicated to caring for caregivers.
"So many of us will be caregivers at some point in our lives – but no one is there to guide you, train you, or support you when you actually become one," says Sofia Ozar, co-founder of CarePond. "That's where CarePond comes in. We are hoping to fill that void so caregivers can also get the support they need, and as a result, improve care for those they are supporting -- and be happier while doing it."
CarePond began with its co-founders' vision of using technology to connect caregivers with information, advice, resources, and a community for emotional support.
While completing her master's at the University of Southern California Davis School of Gerontology, co-founder Sofia Ozar, worked on an elder abuse study for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and part-time at the Los Angeles County Elder Abuse Forensic Center. Her case studies revealed that often the neglect and abuse experienced by those being cared for was caused by misinformation and a lack of adequate support for the caregiver.
Growing up, Sofia and her brother, Corey (also a co-founder), witnessed their parents' struggle to care for their grandmother after she was diagnosed with late stage ovarian cancer. Even from a young age, they understood that caregiving was no small task – it could place immense pressure on the caregiver and stress on the entire family.
"Caring for our grandmother had a deep impact on myself and my whole family – but that story isn't unique to just us. So many families face similar situations," added Corey Ozar. "We want to bring these individuals and families together, to help support each other and ask questions."
Through their mutual appreciation for technology and development, Sofia met David Ulrich (co-founder) in an online community for tech enthusiasts. They soon discovered that both shared the experience of growing up in a household caring for an aging grandparent. They saw an opportunity to connect caregivers through technology and to develop a safe online network for a community whose circumstances make connection difficult.
It was a natural collaboration between the founders, each one viewing caregiving through a different lens – the academic, experiential, and the technological – leading them to create a site that makes the health and support of the caregiver a top priority.
Caregivers are looking for information and support. CarePond seeks to provide both of those things through a variety of unique mediums:
- A question & answer forum offers reliable, honest, and practical advice from other caregivers and caregiving professionals, sorted by various topics that are easy to browse
- Private messaging or group chats allow users to speak with other caregivers in real-time. Users can share their personal experiences with one another in a supportive environment with others who understand what they are going through.
- User matching algorithm is able to match caregivers with one another along a variety of dimensions, including location, relationship to caregiver, and primary condition of the care recipient. Users are able to find and connect with other caregivers around the globe in situations similar to their own.