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Posted: November 08, 2007

Spousal Caregiving

Celebrating Caregiver Recognition Month

Bill Andrew

On October 31, President Bush issued proclamations that affect many of us who are caregivers. The proclamations were National Family Caregivers Month 2007, National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month 2007, and National Hospice Month 2007. As many readers of this column know, I am the 24/7 spousal caregiver for my wife of 56 years, Carol, and have been for over 13 years. Carol is afflicted with late-stage Alzheimer's disease and is a hospice patient as well. Thus, all three proclamations are of interest to me.

I thought that many of you, as caregivers, would also be interested in what the President had to say in his proclamations.

The proclamation making November the National Family Caregivers Month designates the time each year to thank, support, educate, and celebrate the more than 50 million family caregivers across the country who are currently providing over 80% of all home care services for loved ones services valued at over $306 billion in "free" caregiving services. As spousal caregivers, we are, by definition, also family caregivers and this proclamation applies to all of us.

In his proclamation, the President said, "Each year during National Family Caregivers Month, we celebrate all those who dedicate themselves to caring for others and recognize their efforts to comfort and improve the lives of their loved ones in need. One of our Nation's defining values is compassion, and we must do our best to see that every citizen is treated with dignity and respect. Family caregivers demonstrate this compassion, often at great sacrifice, to assist with everyday activities for family members who are elderly, chronically ill, or disabled. This dedication contributes to a culture of caring and responsibility across our country."

He also said, "(I am) committed to supporting family caregivers by enhancing their access to services, agencies, and other providers." National Family Caregivers Month is a time to recognize family caregivers for their good hearts and tireless support. Their love and devotion exemplify the true spirit of America."

Also on October 31, the President proclaimed November as National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month 2007. Caregivers of loved ones afflicted with Alzheimer's disease are, by definition, also family caregivers and this proclamation applies to them as well.

In his proclamation, the President said, "National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month is an opportunity to honor and support those living with Alzheimer's disease. During this month, we also seek to express our gratitude to the family members and caretakers who love and comfort those afflicted, and we renew our commitment to finding a cure to this devastating disease.

"The greatest risk factor for Alzheimer's disease is age. Scientists are studying how other factors such as family history, nutrition, environment, and education, also affect an individual's risk for Alzheimer's disease. The National Institutes of Health and the Department of Veterans Affairs continue to conduct research to better prevent, detect, and treat Alzheimer's disease and provide information and support to caretakers and families.

"During National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month, we recognize the millions of Americans affected by this tragic disease and honor those who have lost their lives to Alzheimer's. Americans are grateful for the resolve and dedication of medical professionals, scientific researchers, family members, and caregivers who give their time and talents and help provide hope to many."

Finally, the President also declared November as National Hospice Month 2007. Caregivers of loved ones in hospice care are, by definition, also family caregivers and this proclamation applies to them as well.

In his proclamation, the President said, "One of America's greatest values is compassion, and our country is blessed by all those who dedicate themselves to caring for others. During National Hospice Month, we recognize the dedicated professionals and volunteers who provide love and comfort to those who are terminally ill.

"Across our Nation, hospice physicians, nurses, counselors, and volunteers provide invaluable support which enables many of our citizens to spend their final days in comfort and dignity. By providing physical, psychological, and social assistance, hospice care workers help ensure their patients can spend valuable time with loved ones. Hospice caregivers also help by providing guidance and counseling to the families of those who are ill.

"Our Nation is committed to helping ensure that citizens with terminal illness and their families receive the assistance they need. We believe in the dignity and worth of every person at every stage of life, and hospice care brings support and comfort to those in need.

"Hospice care professionals and volunteers are answering a timeless call to love their neighbors as themselves. During National Hospice Month, we recognize these individuals for their strength and compassion. Their efforts make our country a more loving and caring place."

I would be interested in your reaction to these proclamations and the impact that they may, or may not, have had on you as a caregiver. While we are all family caregivers, some of you may not be affected with the Alzheimer's disease or hospice environments as I am. Please e-mail me at ASKBill@caregivershome.com with your comments and/or reactions. In the column, I will only use your first name and the initial of your last name as well as your city and state. Thank you.

WORDS TO CARE BY . . .

"Loving is giving . . . giving is loving!"

Bill Andrew (1929-????)


Bill Andrew identifies himself as a former “nutritionally-empowered Alzheimer’s caregiver” who attributes the slow-down in progression of Alzheimer’s disease in his wife, Carol – and the growth of his own personal emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual capability and strength to provide quality 24/7 care for her in their own home – to the targeted nutritional supplements they both took on a daily basis. Carol went to her Heavenly reward on June 9, 2008 – Bill continues on to advocate for family caregivers. Contact Bill with your caregiving questions and comments via email at ASKBill@caregivershome.com.

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Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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