Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Women's Health

Font Size

Caregivers: The Invisible Patient

Caring for the Caregiver
WebMD Feature

July 16, 2001 -- It's a sunny June afternoon and Molena Cannon says she can now spare a few minutes for a telephone interview because "the plumber just left. He was removing a set of dentures from the toilet. Just a typical day here."

For 28-year-old Cannon, a typical day means caring for her grandparents, both in their 80s, as well as her 3-year-old daughter.

Recommended Related to Women

Too Embarrassed To Tell Your Doc?

by Sari Harrar Anna Albrecht was a fit 31-year-old mother of two when the Big Leak happened one day. "I was jumping rope at the gym when — splash! — I completely wet my pants," she recalls. "I was so embarrassed." So did Albrecht go to the doctor? "Not for seven years," she admits. "I just didn't jump rope." The leaks have stopped, thanks to a class aimed at strengthening her pelvic floor — the hammock of muscles that supports the internal organs, including the bladder, bowels, and...

Read the Too Embarrassed To Tell Your Doc? article > >

One in four Americans -- about 54 million people -- function, like Cannon, as a family caregiver, according to a recent survey by the National Family Caregivers Association. Most of these people didn't choose the role, says NFCA founder Suzanne Mintz, but rather had it foisted on them by circumstances -- a sick and failing spouse or parent or a handicapped child.

Using that model, Molena Cannon is the exception: She chose to give up her home and her full-time job at a community hospital to become a full-time caregiver. It was a choice that saw the Cannon family moving to the family farm in rural Georgia where her grandparents lived, and where her father had been raised.

Cannon's husband is a police officer, but in his off-time he works the 300-acre farm to supplement the $800 a month Cannon's grandparents get from Social Security. To help make up for the lost wages from Cannon's job as a monitor technician, she and her husband also grow and sell vegetables. "We sell them from our back porch and gross about $1,000," says Cannon.

Caregiving Can Offer Special Rewards

Loss of income is a common dilemma facing family caregivers, but the rewards can often outweigh the sacrifices, says Cannon, whose grandfather has been debilitated by stroke and whose grandmother has suffered both a heart attack and the onset of dementia. In her hospital work, Cannon says, she often saw elderly patients with "no family or friends visiting" and decided her grandparents wouldn't suffer that fate.

When she and her husband announced their decision to move to her grandparents' farm, it didn't meet with universal applause from the rest of the family.

"My mother was very opposed to it because she thought it would be bad for my daughter," says Cannon.

Cannon's father had died some years previously, but her uncle, the only surviving child of her grandparents, was also initially opposed to the idea. "But he is coming around now because he sees how unsafe it is for them to be here by themselves," she says.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Today on WebMD

hands on abdomen
Test your knowledge.
womans hand on abdomen
Are you ready for baby?
birth control pills
Learn about your options.
Is it menopause or something else?
woman in bathtub
bp app on smartwatch and phone
estrogen gene

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Blood pressure check
hot water bottle on stomach
Attractive young woman standing in front of mirror