As we navigate the complexities of modern life, we often find ourselves taking on the role of a caregiver for our loved ones. While this can be a daunting responsibility, it is also an incredibly fulfilling and meaningful one. Caregiving requires patience, compassion, and a deep sense of empathy, qualities that make us better human beings. And for those who have taken on this role, know that you are not alone. Lucinda Koza is a young entrepreneur who turned her experience as a family caregiver into a business opportunity.
Lucinda is a passionate storyteller and advocates for those who are often overlooked. Her background includes graduating magna cum laude from Southern Methodist University with the Greer Garson Award for her acting work. After premiering a short film at the Cannes Film Festival in 2016, she transitioned into the tech industry, working as a Digital Strategist for DiversityInc Media LLC and later as Marketing Manager for AWS Health.
As a young adult, Lucinda Koza found herself the sole caregiver for her father, who suffered from a stroke. She quickly realized a lack of resources and support available for young caregivers like herself. Despite this, Lucinda took charge of her father’s care, ensuring his medication adherence, attending post-stroke therapy, reducing the risk of hospital readmittance, and making all the crucial decisions.
Young family caregivers like herself are often invisible but make critical decisions. Lucinda saw an opportunity for these caregivers to band together and have their voices heard. From this experience, she founded I-Ally, an app that provides a marketplace for millennial family caregivers. The marketplace offers a range of services and support, carefully curated and vetted by I-Ally, from trusted companies and partners. These include Telehealth services, mental health support, chronic stress relief technology, food and grocery delivery, financial coaching and software, home health equipment and products, and more. Users can also access a social feed to ask for help or advice from other caregivers and a search bar to find information on specific conditions and research.
One of the biggest challenges for young caregivers is maintaining a work-life balance. I-Ally offers resources to help caregivers navigate these challenges, including virtual workshops that encourage them to reconnect with their identity before caregiving, financial planning resources, and initiatives to keep young caregivers in school or working.
Lucinda‘s mission is to empower every caregiver with the knowledge that what they are doing is labor. Despite the lack of recognition and compensation, caregiving is a full-time job that requires patience, love, selflessness, empathy, motivation, and dedication. Lucinda believes that caregivers gain valuable skills through their experience, such as confronting human fragility, making them indispensable assets to anyone who hires them, meets them, or loves them.
Her work has not gone unnoticed, as she was named a “Hero of the COVID Crisis” and has had her writing published in various publications. Lucinda recently co-directed and produced the documentary short film Caregivers: A Story About Them, which has been nominated for Best Documentary Short at the Oniros Film Awards. Lucinda’s dedication to empowering and uplifting young caregivers is truly inspiring.
Lucinda Koza knows all too well the importance of self-care for caregivers. When a family member becomes ill, and you take on the role of caregiver, it can be easy to forget about your own needs. However, as Lucinda explains, setting boundaries and prioritizing your mental health is crucial to your well-being and ability to continue caring for your loved one, “drawing a boundary for yourself and your health is how you will save your life.”
The 2020 CDC survey highlights the alarming rate of suicidal ideation among unpaid family caregivers, emphasizing the need for them to prioritize their mental and physical health. Lucinda stresses the importance of peer support and seeking help from telehealth partners for mental health and primary care. By taking care of themselves, caregivers can become the optimal version of themselves and, in turn, provide better care for their loved ones. I-Ally provides various resources and crisis interventions to ensure caregivers receive the support they need to maintain their well-being.
Lucinda’s journey from caregiver to entrepreneur is a testament to the power of personal experience in driving change and creating a business that makes a positive impact. Her advice to others in similar situations is not to be afraid to share their stories and seek out communities that can provide support and understanding. Above all, remember that you are not alone.
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