Bob Roth

If you haven’t already met him, I would like to introduce you to my favorite television character, Ted Lasso. The Ted Lasso show is a comedy-drama series whose plot is centered around the unlikely story of a Division II Midwest college American football coach who is hired to coach a fictional English Premier League football (soccer) team, AFC Richmond. What starts out as an act of vengeance due to an ugly divorce to sabotage the team, becomes the plot twist that is described as the “Ted Lasso effect.” Lasso’s superpower is “kindness.” His focus on empathy, empowerment and human connection speaks to me on such a personal level as we strive to provide the best care for our aging seniors.

Lasso’s quirky, comical quotes inspire me to think and draw parallels to senior care. Here are a few:

• “Taking on a challenge is a lot like riding a horse, isn’t it? If you’re comfortable while you’re doing it, you’re probably doing it wrong.”

• “You know what you do with tough cookies, you dip them in milk.”

• “There is something worse than being sad, it’s being alone and sad.”

Every time, I hear one of these masterful quotes, I am drawing analogies to helping families in the senior care space. Even though this guy is a fictional character, he sort of feels like a friend, a cheerleader or a life coach.

Lasso might not know anything about soccer, but he really does know how to help people become better versions of themselves. The success of “Ted Lasso” is driven by its unique ability to make audiences feel warm while the characters grapple with real, uncomfortable issues. One issue is the show’s focus on mental health. Last month the cast of Ted Lasso made a special visit to the White House and met with President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden to highlight the importance of addressing mental health needs. Their message of hope and kindness included urging people to check in often with friends, family and coworkers to ask how they’re doing and to listen, sincerely.

Industry and organization leaders and managers in every workplace could learn from the compassion of our fictional hero, Ted Lasso. The reality of checking in with our friends and coworkers would, in many cases, reveal an increase in family caregiving and the emotional, physical and financial strain placed on these family caregivers. In the real world, an organization with many younger people with the demographics of Lasso’s team, AFC Richmond, could be caring for an aging adult.

Since the pandemic, as caregivers available for hire have become rarer and extraordinarily expensive, the estimated number of unpaid family members who have stepped in has nearly doubled. According to a 2021 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 34.1% of Americans ages 18 and older are either caring for an adult or juggling the care of both adults and children. In another poll 60% of first-time caregivers were Millennials or Generation Z. Of all the challenges that a family caregiver faces, the emotional toll has been consistently documented as the most pervasive and severe.

I have a suggestion to Apple TV+ and the writers of the “Ted Lasso” show. Can America’s most lovable coach delve into the challenge of being a family caregiver? One day, every writer, actor and athlete will be one or need one. Let’s see the “Ted Lasso” show shine a light on becoming a family caregiver. Lasso would inspire family caregivers to “believe” that they can do this and know that they are not alone in this journey. JN

Bob Roth is the managing partner of Cypress HomeCare Solutions.