Update from the National Council on Aging: Sheehy Awesome / Sebelius Lame

I am attending my first National Council on Aging conference in Chicago. Made it in time to hear Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius speak. In a nutshell she was there because it is a crucial week in health care reform so she was talking the party line. Remember that she was addressing a room full of caregivers whose hearts are so big that they can not see the rhetoric and simply hone in on the fact that more people will have insurance under reform. And as I have said this is morally correct. But the crumbs they have thrown long-term support and services are just that. A Class Act whose benefit would cover little. A well-intended elder justice act that has been years in the making. Nothing at all was addressed about the cost of it all and while medical homes were touted no one mentioned conveniently that the health care system is not set up to reimburse for this. A lot of long sentences with little substance.

On the other hand Gail Sheehy gave a moving keynote about her care giving journey with her husband. She outlined eight steps in the journey, not dissimilar to what happens when people are diagnosed with a serious health ailment, moving from disbelief to bargaining to acceptance. Her steps went a different route but arrived at the fact that the caregiver journey is just that. You must reach out to others along the route and you must enjoy the cogent moments as they arrive. She then interviewed a panel of caregivers in a moving segment. Well done.