There’s one word that came up consistently throughout our interview with Carewell CEO Bianca Padilla: “aligned.”
The purple branding between Carewell, a national company founded in Charlotte, N.C. and the Alzheimer’s Association is a coincidence. The shared understanding of the importance of empowering caregivers, though in different ways, is not happenstance. “To be able to feel confident in the decisions that you’re making,” Padilla explained, “Which is exactly why [Carewell] launched. We felt that the need was not being met and we brought that to life.”
The e-commerce platform and the Association both want to provide support for the more than 11 million Americans providing unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. In 2021, Carewell joined the Association in the fight against Alzheimer’s as a corporate partner. Now through November 2022 Carewell invites customers to make a $1 donation to the Association at checkout. Carewell will donate a minimum of $50,000 through customer and corporate donations. On Giving Tuesday, November 30 Carewell matched customer donations.
“Our mission grows exponentially through aligned corporate partnerships,” says Katherine L. Lambert, Alzheimer’s Association Regional Leader for NC, SC, & GA. “We are incredibly honored that a company like Carewell has committed to supporting families not only in the founders’ own backyard of North Carolina, but far beyond.”
In 2020, an estimated 358,000 friends and family of those living with Alzheimer’s in North Carolina provided an estimated 517 million hours of unpaid care.
Founded in 2017, Carewell.com is an online retailer of caregiving products and provides resources for caregivers.
It’s of no surprise a company like this was born out of passion. Padilla and her mother found themselves taking on the role of caregiver when Padilla’s grandmother went through a major surgery years ago that left her immobile. That’s when she noticed a gap in the digital world for the purchasing of proper home health care items and a one-stop resource guide for caregivers in need of these items.
“I did some research,” she said. “I actually figured out that I wasn’t alone. Ninety percent of all the care and board that’s received by older adults actually comes from these informal caregivers, people like myself and my mom, with no medical background. And I thought ‘There has to be a better way to support this population of caregivers.’”
Carewell was born.
Back then, Padilla and her co-founder and company COO, husband Jonathan Magolnick, were the only ones answering the phones from their North Carolina base. There was no nationwide customer care team – at least not yet. It was during this time that the two quickly took note of a particular segment of their customers.
“We had so many conversations with caregivers who cared for somebody living with Alzheimer’s,” Padilla said. “One of the things that we learned was that not everybody experiences the same symptoms through their journey. With Alzheimer’s in particular, and supporting these individuals who are living with Alzheimer’s, it’s something that has to be done with a great amount of care and also a great amount of personalization.” In response, the pair became very familiar with the work of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Though the Carewell customer base is not exclusively caregivers for individuals living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia, these folks do make up a substantial percentage, she said. According to the Association’s 2021 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report, nearly half of all caregivers who provide help to older adults do so for someone with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
Carewell has grown significantly since its inception, reaching more and more caregivers. Padilla partly attributes their growth to its 24/7 customer care team, staffed by highly trained caregiving specialists and 20 percent of whom, she said, have a background in health care. For those care team members who don’t necessarily have the professional medical background, many still feel called to this line of work.
“The vast majority of our team either has been a caregiver or they know of a caregiver or they’re looking to partake and work for a mission-driven company like Carewell and sometimes all three,” Padilla explained. The connection to caregiving bonds staff and helps them relate to other caregivers who need assistance.
A need for caregiver resources will continue to grow.
“By 2035, there’s going to be more people over the age of 65, then there will be under the age of 18, which is a huge demographic shift in the U.S.,” Padilla said in a statement backed by U.S. Census Bureau data. Coinciding with these statistics, more than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. By 2050, this number is projected to rise to nearly 13 million nationally. In North Carolina the current estimate of 180,000 people living with Alzheimer’s is expected to rise to 210,000 by 2025.
Recognizing this forecasted rise in Alzheimer’s and dementia diagnoses in the coming decades, Padilla and the Carewell team decided to place their confidence – and dollars – in the Association’s work to advance Alzheimer’s care, support and research.
“The Alzheimer’s Association is a prestigious organization,” says Padilla. “It’s done amazing work for decades, and we believe that our corporate partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association is perfectly aligned.”
Learn more about Carewell’s corporate partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association.
Shop and donate to the Alzheimer’s Association through Carewell.
Madeline is a former TV news reporter & anchor who got involved with the Alzheimer’s Association in Oct. 2020. She volunteers her nearly decade-long experience as a journalist to honor her late grandfather, who had with vascular dementia.