The 107th Congress adjourned November 21, 2002 and reconvened for the 108th Congress January 7, 2003. Before adjournment, Congress usually approves the annual appropriations bills that fund government-wide operations that include the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) and other health programs. For fiscal year 2003, however, Congress departed from this tradition and simply extended current year funding levels and deferred debate on the spending bills until February 2003.
Families—not institutions—provide the majority of care to chronically ill and disabled persons. These families know the enormity of the burden in caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s diseases, stroke, traumatic brain injury, or other long-term conditions. They also know the challenges in locating appropriate advice, services, and respite.
In 1996, my mother required emergency surgery for a brain aneurysm. She was 69. Three days later, my 77-year-old father had a massive stroke. As a family, we began a 15 year journey on a path with few road signs and an upside-down map.