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.
At 89, my dad was a stubborn force of nature. He had been taking care of my mother at home for some 14 years. Mom was also 89, had been Dad’s wife for 66 years, and she was in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease.