SPRINGFIELD, Mass., May 1, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- As the number of people with disabilities rises each year, so do the emotional, physical and financial challenges faced by their caregivers. Today, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) launched a social effort to raise awareness of these challenges faced by the millions of siblings who care for brothers and sisters with a disability. The initiative, #SiblingsMatter, will run from May 1 to May 31 on MassMutual's Facebook page and include a $25,000 donation to its philanthropic partner, Easter Seals.
MassMutual aims to celebrate the lifelong bond between all siblings – not just those who have a family member with a disability – by encouraging people to share stories, photos and captions while tagging #SiblingsMatter across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. To maximize visibility for the cause, the company has set a goal of 10,000 uses of the hashtag over the month-long campaign. Additionally, users will have the opportunity to interact with the stories and photos shared by others and learn more about MassMutual's SpecialCare(SM) program.
More than 54 million Americans have a disability, so the likelihood of caring for a sibling with special needs is high. According to the Easter Seals Siblings Study sponsored by MassMutual, only one-third of respondents feel financially prepared to assume the responsibilities of being the primary caregiver even though 80 percent of respondents predict they will take over that role.
"There is an undeniable bond between siblings which can be especially close when one has special needs, but along with this relationship comes a unique set of circumstances and a great deal of responsibility," says Joanne Gruszkos, founder and director of the SpecialCare(SM) Program, MassMutual. "For sibling caregivers, it's critical to not only set realistic expectations, but also prepare financially, emotionally and physically."
Commissioned in 2012, The Easter Seals Siblings Study revealed the insecurity and potential burdens sibling caregivers face throughout their lives.
- Sixty percent wish they knew more about planning for their sibling's care and finances
- Forty percent say caring for a sibling with a disability has caused financial stress on their family
- More than one quarter (29 percent) spend up to 20 hours per week providing care
"The findings help us shape our support for families caring for someone with a disability and raise greater awareness about the challenges caregivers face," says Patricia Wright, Easter Seals National Director of Autism Services. "There are more than 65 million caregivers in the United States and the Siblings Study paints a better picture of their needs, especially of those who are caring for a sibling with a disability."
Tell MassMutual why your sibling matters and support Easter Seals' mission to provide help, hope and answers to the more than one million children and adults living with disabilities and other special needs each year. [http://mass.mu/Siblings]
Founded in 1851, MassMutual is a leading mutual life insurance company that is run for the benefit of its members and participating policyowners. The company has a long history of financial strength and strong performance, and although dividends are not guaranteed, MassMutual has paid dividends to eligible participating policyowners consistently since the 1860s. With whole life insurance as its foundation, MassMutual provides products to help meet the financial needs of clients, such as life insurance, disability income insurance, long term care insurance, retirement/401(k) plan services, and annuities. In addition, the company's strong and growing network of financial professionals helps clients make good financial decisions for the long-term.
MassMutual Financial Group is a marketing name for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) and its affiliated companies and sales representatives. MassMutual is headquartered in Springfield, Massachusetts and its major affiliates include: Babson Capital Management LLC; Baring Asset Management Limited; Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers LLC; The First Mercantile Trust Company; MassMutual International LLC; MML Investors Services, LLC, Member FINRA and SIPC; OppenheimerFunds, Inc.; and The MassMutual Trust Company, FSB.
SpecialCareSM is a program that provides access to information – from what families need to know in order to provide the best care to their loved one, to how to manage the needs of caregivers and other family members. MassMutual's SpecialCareSM program takes a team approach to help ensure proper life care planning for the future of a person with a disability or other special need.
Specially trained Special Care Planners, and financial professionals with the Chartered Special Needs Consultants (ChSNC) designation, work with families and their professional advisors – their bankers, accountants or financial planners, lawyers, social workers and health care providers – to review their financial picture and offer options that make sense for their situation.
Chartered Special Needs Consultants (ChSNC®) designation – a professional designation awarded to those individuals who've completed 120 hours of academic classes in addition to holding either Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) or Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designations and previously completing the Special Care Planner certification program. The ChSNC designation was developed by The American College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. The certification program and the professional designation evolved from MassMutual's SpecialCareSM program.
About Easter Seals
Easter Seals is the leading non-profit provider of services for individuals with autism, developmental disabilities, physical disabilities and other special needs. For more than 90 years, we have been offering help and hope to children and adults living with disabilities, and to the families who love them. Through therapy, training, education and support services, Easter Seals creates life-changing solutions so that people with disabilities can live, learn, work and play. Learn more at www.easterseals.com and Easter Seals Siblings Study
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Disability and Health Data Statistics – U.S. Census Bureau
 More than 65 million people, 29% of the U.S. population, provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend during any given year and spend an average of 20 hours per week providing care for their loved one. –Caregiving in the United States; National Alliance for Caregiving in collaboration with AARP; November 2009