Caring for an elderly parent can be devastating. And profoundly rewarding.

"Taking care of my mom is the hardest job I've ever had," says Marla Renee, a grandmother, mother and hair designer.

KaTania Brown dreads the day - which she knows is coming soon - when her mother no longer recognizes her. But caring for her dementia-stricken mom, she says, "is another little treasure that I didn't expect to happen. For both of us."

These seemingly contradictory statements are at the heart of Today Was a Good Day, a 25-minute documentary film that explores the complexities of providing care to a family member and looks squarely at a hard truth facing many Americans today: Caring for a parent in their final years can bring steep emotional and financial costs, including stalled careers, significant medical expenses and disrupted family dynamics.

It can also be profoundly rewarding.

The film is part of a content series called Tight Knit, funded by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, a grantmaking organization funded by the estate of Ralph C. Wilson Jr., who founded and owned the Buffalo Bills until his death in 2014. The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation invests in projects that improve the quality of life of the people of Western New York, where the Buffalo Bills are located, and Southeast Michigan, where Wilson grew up and lived his adult life.

"Serving as a caregiver is a complex but common responsibility," says Amber Slichta, vice president of programs for the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. "For family caregivers, having access to community and support is essential. Tight Knit helps to provide that sense of community through storytelling and spotlights the different approaches or resources that can help along the journey of being a caregiver or care partner."

Caring for an older family member or loved one is a common but often hidden responsibility many Americans will face at some point in their lives. According to the AARP Public Policy Institute, more than 41 million people in the United States provide unpaid care for older adults, many doing so on top of holding jobs and other responsibilities.

Yet many of these people don't self-identify as a caregiver. A primary purpose of Today Was a Good Day is to elevate the importance of the family caregiver role and prompt more conversations around self-identifying as a caregiver while raising awareness of the support that’s available.

Paula Duren, Ph.D., founded Universal Dementia Caregivers in Detroit and leads workshops where caregivers learn techniques to care for people dealing with dementia and/or Alzheimer's disease. In the film, Dr. Duren explains several methods that caregivers can adopt to navigate the final chapter of their loved ones' lives.

Today Was a Good Day opens a door into the day-to-day lives of caregivers and their family members, and reveals the unique challenges and rewards that come with caregiving. Filled with frustration and pain, humor and joy, it's an ultimately uplifting perspective on the most basic of human bonds: the love and care that bonds a parent and a child.

Mutual of Omaha is proud to partner with the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation in presenting Today Was a Good Day.

Caregiver Resources

Caring for a family member or loved one in their later years is not only emotionally and physically exhausting; it also requires managing another person's complex set of needs, a task that few people are able to handle alone.

The following resources provide information to help caregivers get the assistance they need, find support through connections with other caregivers, and learn how to care for themselves in order to remain mentally, physically and emotionally fit to handle the demands of caregiving.

American Society on Aging
A list of 25 national organizations that provide information, support and services to caregivers.

Family Caregiver Alliance
In addition to contact information for resources and services for caregivers, the Family Caregiver Alliance site contains a short questionnaire to help caregivers determine what kind of help and support will best suit their personal circumstances.

Harvard Health Publishing: Self-Care for the Caregiver
This short article offers five quick tips for caregivers to combat physical and emotional stress.

Mutual of Omaha: A Guide to Long-Term Care Options
By planning ahead and talking to your loved ones about how they want to spend their senior years, you can make the process easier and more reassuring for everyone involved. This guide helps start the planning process.

Mutual of Omaha: What Medicare Covers: A Caregiver's Guide
Anyone who is a caregiver for someone over the age of 65 will likely have questions about Medicare. These steps will guide you through what to know about health coverage and what Medicare covers so you can provide the best care possible.