In 1986, President Ronald Reagan declared the fourth week of November as National Family Caregiver Week. He recognized the generous support provided by family caregivers, usually a spouse, son, or daughter, to "pay tribute to the millions of Americans who care for aging members of their families" and to "recognize the need for respite" or a break from the day to day responsibilities of caring for their loved one. Because of his efforts, November is now recognized as National Family Caregiver Month.
But today, caregiving is more challenging and more necessary with Americans living longer, two or three generations living in one home, the increase of children being diagnosed with autism, and our soldiers returning home from war needing months or years of rehabilitation.
Who would have imagined that when President Reagan proclaimed in 1986, the week in which Thanksgiving falls, that we should recognize "that older Americans, despite the disabilities they might have, can give everyone a great deal of love, wisdom, and friendship in return," that eight years later he would be diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and his loving wife Nancy would become his primary caregiver for the next ten years until his death?
So during this season of thanksgiving, take a moment and acknowledge the invaluable efforts of caregivers you know. Thanks to their efforts, caregivers eflect family and community at its best. For more information on family caregiving go to www.thefamilycaregiver.org.
Enjoy this article? Receive e-mail alerts when new articles are available. Just click on the "Subscribe" button above.