In preparing Mom’s medication, my 90-year-old Pop would fill a syringe using the light of the kitchen window to see if the dosage was correct. He set up the nebulizer on a table with handwritten step-by-step instructions to remind him how to operate it. Today, millions of family caregivers like Pop perform complex medical tasks that at one time would have been administered only by medical professionals.
When State Representative Elaine Harvey’s mother-in-law moved in with her she was also raising a two-year-old, four-year-old, seven-year-old, nine-year-old, and had little help from the outside. One day a week a public health nurse came to help bathe her mother-in-law, and that was it. “Essentially we were on our own,” she says.
As National Women’s History Month comes to a close, I’d like to share the story of my friend Audrey — a woman whose compassion, perseverance, strength and resilience certainly merit an honorable mention in the Women’s Hall of Fame. I met Audrey more than 30 years ago, when she was preparing to leave her own home to move in to care for her father. Like millions of American women do every day, she balanced working full time with family caregiving. What makes Audrey’s story remarkable to me is the number of times in her life that she has given of herself to care for others.
For five years Michele from Montana, didn’t have access to affordable health care. She didn’t go to the doctor because she couldn’t afford it; this scared her. When health care laws began to change, Michele began to dream about what it would be like to have health coverage again, and how she would take better care of herself. But when many others gained access to affordable care last year, Michele did not. Instead, she was one of millions of hard-working Americans who fell into the new coverage gap.
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