Message from the Director: Reaching more caregivers

AMERICUS, GA – The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving today released the following message from its executive director, Dr. Jennifer Olsen:

As we continue to watch people march and advocate for racial justice and to honor the memories of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks and so many others, we are overcome by a sense of loss and injustice for lives taken too soon.

There is no place in our democracy for police brutality and violence against communities of color; and yet, that is the reality that our black friends and neighbors face every day.

And for us, an institute dedicated to the health and well-being of unpaid family caregivers, we understand racism is not limited to law enforcement and the criminal justice system. It is systemic across our society, including health care.

Our country is fighting two public health catastrophes at once: a global pandemic that upturned the world overnight, and structural racism, which has infected our society for far too long. And the latter has demonstrated with alarming clarity the devastating toll of the former.

As we see the higher rates of COVID-related illness and death in communities of color, we must commit to changing the approaches of our public health system that result in these devastating outcomes.

During her time in the Georgia State House, The White House and for decades after, our founder, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter has focused her work on creating a more caring society. From fighting for mental health parity, to marshaling support for families navigating the burdens and rewards of caring for loved ones with chronic illness or disability, she’s had difficult conversations and called for action.

She said it best: “Do what you can to show you care about other people, and you will make our world a better place.”

As we continue our work to reach more caregivers, in more ways and in more places, we know we must create space and opportunity for people, especially people of color, to participate in our programs, to let us know what they need, and to feel heard and supported as they selflessly care for their loved ones.

Jennifer Olsen, DrPH

PS – Read former President Carter’s recent statement on racial injustice and the need to stand up and say, ‘no more.’

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