Naples Company’s Website Offers Assistance to Caregivers for Parents, Spouses

By Liz Freeman, Naples Daily News

Joe Buckheit was privy one Sunday morning to a conversation between his mother and mother-in-law which spawned a new business five years ago.

As founder of locally based MediaBrains, which develops websites for businesses to target other business markets, Buckheit launched a consumer-based website for caregivers to connect and learn from each other.

The website,, is now turning a profit.

“It’s (getting) just over half a million unique visitors a month,” Buckheit said.

But what’s equally important and far more gratifying for him is the service the website is providing for caregivers.

Both his mother and mother-in-law were caregivers in 2007 when he overheard them talk one day about their challenges and stresses, and family dynamics.

“They were in their own little world talking to each other,” he said. “Both of them had had a rough week. They left that day feeling empowered to take care of their issues. The core of is a forum where caregivers can ask questions or vent, have a discussion and get feedback from others.”, which is a separate company from MediaBrains, now has 12 employees who work from an office off Goodlette-Frank Road North.

“Six people contribute articles, we assign them out, and we started putting together experts,” he said.

The experts include a certified public accountant, a physician, elder-care attorney and others who address caregiving and aging-related topics.

About 65 million Americans, about 29 percent of the U.S. population, serve as caregivers for an average of 20 hours a week for a frail, disabled or chronically ill family member or friend, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving.

The value of those services is estimated at $375 billion annually, if the caregivers were paid for their time and energy. That is twice the $158 billion that is spent on nursing home services or home care.

During the first two years after was launched, Buckheit let it grow and soon learned that people were seeking referrals for assisted living facilities.

So AgingCare’s staff started putting together a directory of ALFs around the country. Advertisers soon were calling and the website started generating revenue from referral fees.

“We have 2,800 ALFs across the country,” he said of the directory.

Another caregivers’ website-based company is, which was started in Silicon Valley in late 2007, around the same time as

Buckheit said has garnered $20 million from investors for the website while he invested $1 million over four years for

“A lot of the people who work for Aging.Care have some kind of caregiving experience,” Buckheit said.

When asked if his staff ever experienced an emergency with its website, one event readily comes to mind.

Someone had come on to the online forum and posted something to the effect that he or she was giving up, which could be interpreted that the caregiver was overwrought and suicidal.

“By the time we saw it 15 minutes later, there were already eight responses from people and the person had come back and said it was a moment of frustration,” Buckheit said. “It was scary to see the first post and to see the person come back, it was kind of a good feeling.”

Andy Cohen, founder and chief executive officer of, based in Palo Alto, Calif., said he was a caregiver for his mother five years ago; she was living in Chicago while he was living in California.

“I saw that there really wasn’t a good website for caregivers, that’s how I got started,” he said. “It now has a couple million visitors a month. They are looking for basic information, what are the early warning signs, how to find some good local services. We have ratings and reviews of ALFs.”

The reviews are written by people using the website for their own needs, he said.

Today, has 40 employees, most of whom are working out of the company’s office.

Cohen said there are not a lot of resources for caregivers, so he doesn’t see as a competitor.

“There’s such a huge market, there is absolutely room for multiple (website) companies,” Cohen said.

Evelyn Klapman, community relations director for Merrill Gardens in Naples, an independent and assisted living center that rents to residents, said her company connected with about a year ago from its national office in Seattle. Merrill Gardens has 56 communities across the U.S.

What she thinks is especially helpful for consumers is AgingCare’s weekly electronic newsletter and a blog with questions and answers that most people don’t think about asking.

People usually aren’t educated about resources and care-giving until a catastrophe happens, and then adult children are scrambling at some distant location to get help, she said.

“They’ve been really helpful in providing resources for families,” she said.

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