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ANSA/ “Carefluencers”, when care becomes social – Healthcare

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ANSA/ “Carefluencers”, when care becomes social – Healthcare

(by Michela Di Carlo) They share the joys and sorrows of their lives as caregivers, offering advice and food for thought, photos and videos of their carers on Instagram and TikTok. Sometimes they also launch clubs, offering merchandising and products for daily well-being. They are the “carefluencers”, a term coined by researchers at the University of Southern California Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, to define those caregivers with thousands of followers who use social media to talk about their daily experiences in caring for elderly parents, grandparents, spouses , sick or disabled children. Their intent is to somehow recover their spaces, trying to “normalize” their experience. “Social media is sometimes the only way for many of them to seek support, escape isolation, feel a sense of belonging and exchange information,” explains researcher Francesca Falzarano to the New York Times. According to experts, however, if on the one hand they contribute to increasing awareness of the world of caregiving and the dedication it requires, on the other they propose an aspect of care as a sort of competition and emotional resilience, with a narrative that does not always correspond to reality and the risk of dispensing advice dictated by interests linked to sponsorships by pharmaceutical companies. “The use of social media is a component of our society – explains Loredana Ligabue, Secretary of the CARER APS Association -. But through these tools the risk is also that of exposing aspects of a person in difficulty, not always in a position to express their will. Online forums, self-help groups moderated by a psychologist or exchanging messages on protected chats are one thing – he continues -, social networks that focus attention on oneself with the risk of pathological drift are another. and the sharing of exasperated experiences just to attract more followers. The reality is that the caregiver, to break the isolation, needs face-to-face meetings, because everyday life is made up of a lot of commitment and sacrifices, emotional losses that social media cannot. top up”. The social aspect could then overshadow the real systemic problems that caregivers are grappling with: lack of support and access to resources. “The risk is to spread fake news regarding one’s patient’s illness and the ability to manage it, making others feel not up to the task and therefore even more fragile – explains Marina Petrini, scientific director of the ISSN research project on the state of health of autism and Alzheimer’s family caregivers – The problem can be stressful but the ability to manage it depends from person to person, female caregivers suffer more from depression with repercussions on the immune system of the caregiver cannot be won on social media”, he concludes.

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