In January of 2015, Nancy Madsen (program manager of the Utah Caregiver Support Program) and Jackie Eaton (faculty at the University of Utah) met to discuss a partnership to support the needs of Utah family caregivers.

This project involved twenty-two individuals providing support to an older adult family member.  Meeting in small groups between December of 2015 and March 2016 participants asked one another about their caregiving experiences.

These conversations were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed to identify major themes.  Portrait of a Caregiver is a research based play created from these themes, using only the words of participating caregivers. It is our hope that Portrait of a Caregiver will engage the community in conversations that lead to greater understanding and active support.

Panel 1


Eaton_HeadshotJacqueline Eaton, PhD (Project Lead) is an Assistant Professor and Director of the Gerontology Interdisciplinary Program at the University of Utah College of Nursing.  She holds a bachelor of art in theatre art studies, a master of science in gerontology, and a PhD in nursing. Her research focuses on arts-based approaches to improving quality of life for older adults and their caregivers. She developed and teaches a course called Aging and the Arts.

Nancy Madsen, MS, SSW (Co-Project LeadNancy_3_crop) monitors the National Family Caregiver Support Program in the 12 Area Agencies on Aging in Utah, provides training and education opportunities as Program Manager of the Caregiver Support Program.  As a previous family caregiver for her elderly mother and late husband, she understands the role of a caregiver well.  Previously she worked as a Certified Long-Term-Care Ombudsman overseeing 71 long-term-care facilities and volunteered with AmeriCorps VISTA for Mountainland Association of Governments revitalizing and expanding caregiver education to seven locations in Utah County and teaching community caregiver education classes.

WALK-ONS, INC. is a non-profit company with a mission to Walk Onsproduce live theatrical performances for audiences who are often underserved. In recent years, Walk-Ons has taken a special interest in projects that explore issues related to aging. This is their second partnership with playwright Jacqueline Eaton. Her earlier ethnodrama, Possible Selves, which arose from the experiences of residents in elder care facilities, was produced by Walk-Ons, Inc. in 2013. Other recent projects have included Driving Miss Daisy, Senior Stages-The Art of Aging (in partnership with Davis Arts Council), and The Senior Theatre Project, a touring production which has brought original plays for, by and about seniors to retirement residences and senior centers in Utah since 2006.

Utah Caregiver Support Program (UCSP): The Utah Caregiver Support Program provides support services to family caregivers. Services include information and assistance, counseling, support groups, respite, and other home and community-based services.

Hartford Change AGEnts Initiative: This project was funded with support from the Spring 2015 Hartford Change AGEnts Action Award with the goal of changing policy and practice in order to improve the lives of older adults and their families.

Panel 2


Portrait of a Caregiver is used to disseminate caregiving resources, promote the voice of informal caregivers, and increase dialogue through performance.  Target audiences include informal and professional caregivers, students, researchers, faculty, and community-based employees with aging and adult services.  We are evaluating the influence of this process on caregiver well-being as well as audience reactions to the presentation.

Previous Performances:

October 19, 2022
Dementia Caregiver Conference
St. George Senior Expo
St. George, UT

October 12, 2022
Dementia Caregiver Conference
Layton Senior Expo
Layton, UT

October 7, 2022
Utah State University
Logan, UT

October 6, 2022
Dementia Caregiver Conference
Salt Lake City Senior Expo
Sandy, UT

May 21, 2022
Lynden Legacy Foundation Caregiver Conference
Sandy, UT

November 4, 2019
College of Nursing
University of Utah
Salt Lake City, UT

October 11, 2019
Senior Expo: 2019 Family & Community Caregiver Conference
Sandy, UT

September 30, 2019
University of Utah
Salt Lake City, UT

April 17, 2018
Dementia Caregiver Conference
Ogden, UT

April 18, 2018
Dementia Caregiver Conference
Logan, UT

November 11, 2017
HealthInsight’s Third Annual Quality Conference
West Jordan, UT

October 7, 2017
Senior Expo
Sandy, Utah

June 27, 2017
Murray, UT

April 27, 2017
Utah Division of Aging & Adult Services Training
Salt Lake City, UT

April 19, 2017
Dementia Caregiver Conference
St. George, UT

March 24, 2017
Dementia Caregiver Conference
Lindon, UT

September 27, 2016
AARP Utah Volunteer Summit
Salt Lake City, UT

May 17, 2016
Making Sense of Alzheimer’s Conference
Alzheimer’s Association
Salt Lake City, UT

MUS Email Caregivers_FNL
Panel 3



Eaton, J., & Madsen-Wilkerson, N. (2020). Portrait of a Caregiver: Ethnodrama development and its influence on caregiver wellbeing. The Gerontologist, 60(6), 1169-1178. https://doi.org/10.1093/geront/gnz137

Eaton, J. & Madsen-Wilkerson, N. (2017). Staging advocacy: Portrait of a Caregiver.  Public Policy & Aging Report, 27(1), S27-S30. https://doi.org/10.1093/ppar/prx009

July 2017

At the end of July 2017, we will travel to San Francisco to present at the 21st IAGG World Congress of Gerontology.  We will present results from this research during a podium presentation and clips from the film at the Age Stage.  More news to come.

May 3, 2017

We will be presenting at the Mountain West Arts Conference from 8:30 AM – 9:30 AM, during the opening session titled, Flashes of Inspiration.

September 25 – 26, 2016

The National Center for Creative Aging is holding their annual conference in Washington DC.  Dr. Eaton and Nancy Madsen will present on the experience of creating, implementing, and disseminating Portrait of A Caregiver and our efforts to incorporate it into community practice.

We look forward to meeting others working at the intersection of creativity, aging, and caregiving.  Interested in learning more? Go here.