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How ‘The Bachelor’ Alum Sarah Trott Is Using Tech (And Her Fame) To Uplift And Empower Caregivers

Fans of ABC’s hit dating franchise The Bachelor may be familiar with former contestant Sarah Trott. She appeared on the show’s 25th season which aired early last year vying with other hopefuls in winning the affections of heartthrob du jour Matt James. In an interview with me conducted earlier this month Trott described the experience of being on the show was a wonderful opportunity she’ll never forget. Her appearance on The Bachelor is arguably the least of Trott’s life-changing experiences. Being known for doing the show will assuredly not be her enduring legacy. A former weekend news anchor at the ABC affiliate in Palm Desert California Trott in 201 left her career in broadcast journalism to become a caretaker for her late father. She was 1 years old when her father was first diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis ALS colloquially known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Knowing nothing about it Trott would frantically search Google for information about ALS after learning of her dad’s condition. Until her dad’s diagnosis came to light she was only tangentially aware of ALS via the ice bucket challenges that went viral on Facebook and Instagram.

Her dad’s news came as a serious shock to Trott’s system as she comes from a very close-knit family; in particular Trott described her dad as her biggest cheerleader [and] biggest supporter. It was this closeness that motivated Trott to be there for her family and do whatever humanly possible to best care for him. It [learning of her dad’s diagnosis] was the kind of news that totally changed my life perspective and made me reconsider a lot of different things—what’s important what’s a priority in life. That’s a difficult thing when you’re just starting your 20s Trott said. A lot of people are considering next jobs or relationships… traveling. I had this really difficult opportunity [a] difficult situation in front of me. [I decided] to use that to become a caregiver and understand what it’s like [as a] young person to have the parental dynamics switch: [instead of a situation where] the parent normally takes care of you the child cares for the parent.

Six years after his diagnosis Trott’s father died on October 15 2021.
Even more than the cluelessness over the illness itself Trott explained there’s massive uncertainty when family members are suddenly thrust into caregiving situations. The reality is she said caregivers aren’t always medical professionals like nurses. Caregivers are unsung for the most part with Trott saying millions of regular Average Jane and Joe people are doing this work for their family—and they’re doing it without compensation or much opportunity for respite. I had so much love for my dad and [wanted] to provide his care that we kind of jumped in to help with [the things] he could no longer do for himself Trott said. Trott’s dad didn’t want his neediness to derail her plans but she set them aside when reality struck that her mom desperately needed help. She was experiencing burnout which concerned Trott as she told me anywhere between 30 to 70% of caregivers die before their loved one due to fatigue and other factors. That combined with the immense love for her dad propelled Trott to put him first.

PLAY Forbes LeadershipNorthwestern’s Kellogg MBA Courts Axed Tech Talent With Irresistible OfferRead MoreDaily Dozen | Forbes: Disney CEO Shakeup; Ron DeSantis’ Wealth; Possible Braves SaleRead MoreApplying For Jobs And Not Hearing Back? Here’s What To Do About ItRead More Read More Read More Read More Read More Read More Read More Read MoreOutlook For 2023: The Great RebalanceRead MoreBob Iger Is Back As CEO Of Disney: Four Lessons For LeadersRead More Visit Advertiser websiteGO TO PAGENorthwestern’s Kellogg MBA Courts Axed Tech Talent With Irresistible Offer In a word caring for a critically ill family member takes selflessness. I could quickly see it was too much for my mom to handle. We needed additional support she said. I think that’s kind of the narrative that happens for a lot of people—they just jump in and I was happy to do it being from a close family. I realized that I have a very fortunate experience [to be] very close with my family.

Her role as caregiver for her father gave Trott a newfound appreciation for disability and the disability community. Prior to her dad getting ALS she readily admitted she didn’t think much of disability because it hadn’t touched her. That her dad became disabled really opened my eyes to what disability looks like she told me. Of course disability not only affects the disabled person; especially in a caregiving scenario the disability has debilitating effects all its own for the person doing the caring. The nearly 24/7/365 job of caregiving can have wide-ranging ramifications on one’s mental and physical health—which in turn potentially can have a tangible highly consequential effect on quality of care if left unfettered. To that end Trott turned to technology to help. She decided to set up a Facebook group called Sarah’s Caregiving Community. She intended it to be a resource for young women caregivers to connect with each other and have a place where everyone can talk and share like-minded experiences. Trott started the community after sharing her background on an episode of Bachelor and getting encouraging feedback. The group admission to which hinges on completing a questionnaire boasts over a thousand members and is weeks away from its second birthday.

Trott described her Caregiving Community as a safe space where people can join other caregivers and be vulnerable—to talk about anything and everything from caregiver burnout to venting to crying to [discussing] what it’s like to have a relationship while also being a caregiver. In addition to the Facebook group there’s also an active WhatsApp group chat where people swap stories and ask questions about the easiest ways to perform a bed transfer for example. The digital networking went so well Trott said they sort of snowballed into an in-person retreat. Fifteen women gathered in Charleston South Carolina this past May to bond and share war stories this time in the presence of actual humans.

Although ALS is a focal point in honor of her father’s memory Sarah’s Caregiving Community is inclusive of those providing care for people with Parkinson’s lupus and cancer as well. Of ALS Trott told me it is the absolute worst disease that I’ve seen firsthand… I don’t want another family to have to experience it. Trott’s modicum of celebrity from her Bachelor days has helped raise awareness of ALS and caregiving with the social media elements also playing a key role. Trott explained the feedback she received from sharing her story on the show was extremely positive for the most part although she lamented those who had the audacity to question her fitness as a caregiver and her willingness to help her dad in his more intimate moments like bathing. Some people aren’t going to get it but [there are] the people who do and really have been there and have been in my shoes as well Trott said. What was so beautiful [was] the overwhelming [positive] response and connection and positivity. [That’s] what I’m leaning into rather than that small group of people who are going to hate no matter what.

Trott noted the Facebook and WhatsApp groups often are a person’s first point of contact when they’re having a bad day and need someone to talk to. The community transcends mere usernames and digital likeness into being full-fledged friends and family all their own. They send flowers to one another when a loved one dies celebrate birthdays and have regular get-togethers over Zoom to catch up. Trott hears from countless scores of young women who reach out to her and ask for help on getting support and learning about effective caregiving skills. I try my best to respond to all those messages she said. I hold these people in such a close place in my heart because I’ve been there and I understand what it’s like… [some] of the beautiful captions and things they’ve said to me just are so overwhelming and so kind that I’m truly overwhelmed every time I read them.

My conversation with Trott lined up fortuitously as it coincided with November being National Family Caregivers Month. Trott hopes caregivers never feel alone in their journey adding she wants caregivers to feel empowered to seek out the resources if they want—and I hope they would want to. Moreover Trott is a big believer in the power social media wields for good in terms of bringing people together to form genuine connections. She hopes society doesn’t forever become jaded over social media’s ever-dominant presence due to spiteful vitriolic trolls.

In a broad scope my discussion with Trott yielded many big-picture lessons—not the least of which being that caregiving can be just as disabling in its own right for the giver as it is the literal disabled person. To wit Trott’s dad may have been the one stricken with ALS but the emotional and physical toll it took on Trott was just as disabling and debilitating for her. What this ultimately illustrates is accessibility and disability is incredibly fluid and dynamic in nature. In Trott’s case it was ultimately all about her father and for good reason—but Trott’s experiences mattered too. Likewise the notion that social is inherently vapid and rife with negativity unfairly obscures the fact social media is real life for a not-insignificant swath of people. Social media often is the primary conduit by which people—particularly those with disabilities—interact with their fellow humans.

As Twitter for example continues to mire in unprecedented tumult in Elon Musk’s first few weeks of ownership many are advocating jumping ship and swimming for lifeboats such as the decentralized alternative Mastodon. The basic premise is Musk is an egotistical jerk and Twitter will further sink to unfathomable depths in terms of moderation. There’s truth to this idea but it ignores key context. To paraphrase disability advocate Liz Jackson quitting Twitter or Facebook or Amazon has a real cost not everyone can afford to pay.

To Trott’s point social media has been a savior to her group of women caregivers; if Facebook or WhatsApp were to disappear tomorrow it would rob them of an invaluable tool. Similarly if Twitter does fail whale forever down the road it would be a nigh insurmountable loss for marginalized communities who rely on the service for connection and resourcing—which is Trott’s entire raison d’être. This isn’t isolated opinion. Karissa Bell and Amanda Morris have recently written about this topic for their respective outlets in Engadget and The Washington Post. No one expects Twitter—or any other social platform—to last forever. Still it’s delusional to assume Twitter’s networks effects can easily and quickly be replicated elsewhere. The good the disability community reaps from Twitter is spiritually similar to the benefits Trott’s group derives from Facebook and the like.

The moral is simple: social media is a form of accessibility like any other tech.
Beyond wanting to cure ALS Trott wants people to harness tech for the better. [We should] go back to the roots of what social media was invented to be before trolling—before everyone had a negative opinion about everything. To really go back to the the core of what a social network was meant to be which was to foster connection and create friendships and bring people together and share resources she said of embracing social media. A new caregiver [shouldn’t] feel the overwhelming avalanche of recreating the wheel trying to find resources scrambling for whatever they can do to make their experience easier. I want to be able to bring people together and use each other’s wisdom to uplift each other.

 

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