Meredith Vieira…Caregiver, her most important job

The morning of May 9th, I woke to bad news and good news.  The news from the Today Show was poignant, both sad and yet inspiring. Meredith Vieira announced she is leaving her anchor position! 

The Today Show has been my wake-up friend for many years, as it has been for many Americans. I nursed my babies in a rocking chair watching Tom Brokaw, and listened stunned to Katie Couric as the Twin Towers came down.  Meredith added a lightness and sweetness to the program.  She worked her way to the top of her career, after graduating Magna Cum Laude and becoming a new announcer in 1975.  A journalist of 36 years, finally reaching the top.

Meredith is, also, a Caregiver. She resigned her coveted position to devote more time to her husband who is battling the deadly neurological condition of Multiple Sclerosis.  Meredith Vieira is one of 50 million caregivers in the United States caring for a child/adult with a disability or a disabling medical condition and the census says the percentage is ever-increasing.

As the Director of a respite program serving Caregivers, I have firsthand knowledge of caring for a loved one.  The day can be full of worry, isolation and fatigue; the day can be full of beauty and inspiration.  But one thing is certain: these caregivers need support!  Today, the Texas State Legislature is moving forward on plans to reduce or eliminate many support systems needed by Caregivers.  We cannot let this happen.  We must tell the story of how support systems, such as respite care, are the lifeline for Caregivers,  and the horrible outcomes if these supports are eliminated….divorce, child abuse, drug abuse and even institutionalization of the family member.

The bad news is that we are losing Meredith Vieira who helped jump-start our day.   The good news is that she will be there for her husband to help him jumpstart his day!  She made a life-changing decision to become a full-time Caregiver; she chose love, caring and devotion, over career, money and prestige.  Yes, this morning, the Today Show was poignant, sad, inspiring.   Meredith, and 50 million other caregivers, deserves our love and support.  I will miss you Meredith Vieira!

Linda Latimer, LCSW, Director – Respite Services

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