The Daily Nightly from NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams

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The Daily Nightly began on May 31, 2005. As Brian wrote in his first post it aims to provide a narrative of the broadcast day and a window into the editorial process at NBC Nightly News. Brian weighs in every weekday and NBC News correspondents and producers post regularly.

Brian Williams became the seventh anchor and managing editor in the history of NBC Nightly News on December 2, 2004. Read his full biography.

Station response to 'Trading Places'

Since Nightly News began its "Trading Places: Caring for Your Parents" on Monday, more than 2,500 viewers have shared their own personal stories about meeting the needs of their parents. Hundreds of the messages included photographs and some came with homemade videos. In addition, more than 1,000 viewers have e-mailed us, commenting on the series. This is a large response to an editorial project and a good indicator of widespread interest. Another is NBC station support for the stories.

If you watch KPNX in Phoenix, you’ll know that the station has joined Nightly News in focusing on the challenge of caring for aging parents with its own coverage. It has featured  a series about morning anchor Tram Mai and her mother MinhSon, who is recovering from 11 surgeries in the past eight years, three of them related to breast cancer. MinhSon lives in California with her husband and son, but Tram does what she can to assist her mother long distance from Phoenix.

Based on the e-mail KPNX has received, reaction from viewers has been very positive. One good reason may be that Tram is someone from their own community that Phoenix viewers know well.

Nightly’s series has been successful, at least in part, because NBC stations across the country have joined us in this coverage. Scores of them have taken responsibility for making sure that their viewers know about the series. They’ve used the editorial content that we’ve supplied to introduce the series and provide additional information about the issues raised on Nightly.

In addition to KPNX, here's how other stations have offered a local perspective on care for aging mothers and fathers.

KFOR/Oklahoma City used its own anchors’ personal stories to explore aspects of elder care:  a mother passing on to her son what she learned from caring for his grandmother; a family whose religious faith assists them in their caring for an 86-year-old grandmother; efforts by one family to spare their children the burden of caring for them; a father and son who work together (at the station) and their changing roles as they grow older.

KRNV/Reno, Nev., showcased senior communities in its area, resources for families available locally, and what seniors can do to stay healthy.

WMGT/Macon, Ga., recognizing that 14 percent of its local population is 65 years of age or older, did stories that included dealing with loneliness, legal issues, and home safety.

WEEK/Peoria, Ill., focused on services in central Illinois available to caregivers, telling the stories of how three families are coping with Alzheimer’s in its various stages.

This local involvement enriches the value of Nightly’s coverage to viewers. While Brian Williams and his colleagues explore stories like elder care on a national basis, the affiliate coverage puts hometown faces on the issues involved In some instances, and the stations provide specific information about services available in their communities, which is of immediate value to viewers.

We’re grateful for the help that the national broadcast has received from NBC stations this week, and we’re sure that their viewers are, too.

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COMMENTS

Kudos to Brian Williams and the Producers of "Trading Places". The issue of eldercare by their children and the enormous emotional, physical, career and financial constraints MUST be addressed.

My siblings (5) and my efforts in caring for our 74-year-old Mom ended with her passing on January 1, 2007, after having been sick for six years, wheelchair bound and on oxygen 24/7. After Dad's passing in 2003 it was no longer possible for Mom to "stay in the house" (and how many of us have used that phrase?). However, after discussion and investigation of choices; Mom living with us, apartment w/aide, and assisted living (AL), Mom made the choice of AL, which here in CT cost about $5200 monthly. These monies were available only because my parents (a butcher and secretary) purchased their home 42 years ago and it was paid off. In reality who of us, except the super wealthy, have an extra 3-5K per month to provide a safe, caring, nurturing environment for our aging parents?

My siblings and I still did a tremendous amount for our Mom; doctors appointments, pharmacy visits, laundry, shopping, bills, cleaning and taking her out when she was still able to --- but most importantly squeezing every minute out of the day to spend time with her, be it a visit or phone call --- regardless of how little time was left at the end of our days.

I think most would agree that caring for our aging parents can be frustrating at times. I myself never wanted to look back and say: coulda, woulda, shoulda. In caring for both my parents for nine years, I realized early on that there would be what I referred to as, "no do overs".

Nancy More is correct in writing that most of us are not aware of the available resources in caring for our aging parents. The last six weeks we had Hospice, right in Mom's AL apartment. We now understand on a very personal level why people sing the praises of Hospice. We learned that Hospice programs vary by region in the services offered. As such, I strongly reiterate Nancy's comments regarding a comprehensive series of on Medicare Home Health Care and Medicare Hospice.

Dear Brian, Congratulations of your interest in the care of the elderly with your new nightly presentations. I am an RN, having just finished a novel on the topic Dementia, LIVING BEYOND, now negotiating with a publisher. The care gives should be mentioned in you various programs. The shortage should be of interest to the public. Include some of us nursing care persons and certainly the excellent staff with whom I worked as recently as 2005.

Sincerely,

M. Georgene Roth, RN, BSN

HUH, taking care of an elderly family member, can be a horrific ordeal. especially when their is another family member,who is executor of the estate. In my case it cost me 40K. . THE EXECUTOR HAD THE WILL REWRITTEN GIVING HER CHILDEN 25K each. as if grand ma cared about them. iT'S FUNNY NONE OF THEM EVER EVEN VISITED GRAM. Well we know what ill gotten gains gets!

I quit my good paying job to come home and take care of my mother in Oct.05 after she had a heart attack and was found to have cancer. I now live in Hillsdale county (MI) and cannot find a job. My mother is greatful for the care but it has left me in a depressing situation with no way of caring for myself.

Dear NBC News,
I wish all the information for caregivers was available eighteen months ago. I know first hand about taking care of a parent. My mother was eighty-three years of age when she passed away at home in August 2005. She suffered from mini stokes and then a major stroke that would affect her speech and a feeding tube was put in place. It was hard to hear from her physican that I should start thinking about putting her in nursing home. I have brothers and sister that all lived out of state and I was the primary caregiver. The nursing home was not an option. There was no resources available to tell me what was available to help the elderly. I was given inforation about getting formula for her feeding tube, a hopital bed, some home health service and they were helpful and I appreciated the help, until the time period ran out and then you are on your own.
Even though it was hard and stressful I will never forget the time that I had with my mother. There were moments that I will never forget for example, putting her in her wheelchair to go our on the deck on a sunny day,and celebrating the New Year in her bedroom. Looking back on that moment I realize that would be the last New Year we would celebrate together.
I wish that in the future there will be service avaiable to help with the finanical problems of the caregivers. Although I was not rich, I was blessed to be able to work and have someone to stay with her.
I appreicated the support of family, friends, and pastor. My mother was lived a lot longer than the doctor expected and I give all the credit to God and her being in her home.
Thanks for getting the information out to others.

I have been watching, with a great deal of interest, your series, Trading Places on the NBC Nightly News program. Showing some of your news staff, like Brian Williams, Ann Curry and Tim Russert emphasizes the argument that there are many senior citizens in this nation and many of them are being cared for by their children or grandchildren.

My story is similar to many of the ones that you have already spotlighted and probably many more of families that have written to your staff. Approximately 8 years ago, my husband and I moved from Florida to the northeastern area of Ohio to be closer to my aging parents. They have lived on the family ‘gentlemen’s farm’ for over 50 years. They have spent countless hours of hard work transforming their home and property into a beautiful retreat. Now in their waning years, I am trying to keep them in their same beloved home, a place that is totally familiar to them, a place they adore. This journey has not been an easy one as my father will soon be 100 years old and my mother is 89 years old. They have spent a good portion of their life’s savings paying for private caregivers to come in several hours a week to cook, assist, shop and do light housekeeping for them. If they continue to live a few more years, their savings will be depleated.

I have one brother, who lives in Denver, and rarely gets home to assist me in their care. It seems like many of my friends in my generation (ages 60-65 years) are busy taking care of one or more of their parents. I keep in touch with a number of my high school graduating class (’59) and they tell me the same story. Some of them have parents in Assisted Living and some are trying to keep them at home, like me.

I found your broadcast, explaining the senior care plan in Vermont, of particular interest as it seems to me that this country needs to take a serious look at our senior population and their long term care. It certainly has convinced me that someday, I’ll be there myself. Many of my friends and I agree that we do not want our children to have the burden of responsibility for our care. The financial burden of aging care will soon begin to cripple this country, financially, when the ‘Baby Boomers’ turn 70, 80 and 90 years old.

My husband and I just retired and now we are not really able to do the exciting and fun things we planned on doing when we retired because I need to be available 24 hours a day in case my parents have an emergency. Both my mother and father have fallen many times (good news….they have suffered no broken bones), but I finally have convinced them to pay a monthly fee to have LifeLine installed in their home. This gives me the added assurance that if something happens to either of them, all they have to do is push their button and help is on the way.

There is much more to my saga but I am sure that so many people have written in to your program explaining their situation that mine probably seems minimal. I realize that besides caring for aging parents, there are many families that are faced with caring for special needs children and disabled spouses. These are the UNSUNG heroes of the world, in my opinion. I honor them as they truly are angels on earth.

Lastly, I would like to thank all the staff and people involved with NBC who have brought this situation of aging parents to national attention.

Sandy Shelley, Bellville, Ohio

Thank you for bringing the issue of children caring for aging parents to the viewing public. I realized something was drastically wrong with my mother in 2001 and had her evaluated in early 2002. The diagnosis "probable Alzheimer's" which we were all too familiar with as her younger sister already had the disease. Within a year of her diagnosis, a younger brother was diagnosed. Both have since passed away. Mother, at age 83, is in the later stage of Alzheimer's and I have been her primary caregiver since 2002. She now lives in a memory care facility here in Bend, Oregon where I visit with her daily. Our local NBC affiliate KTVZ interviewed both of us last week and the response from those who know us was just overwhelming. Attaching faces and voices to the pain and stress that caring for a loved one with any dementia-related disease brings will hopefully increase donations/funding so that none of us will be able to recall Alzheimer's one day.

In 2000, My father turned 100 years young. He had been living in Florida by himself in his condominium which he shared with my mom until her death in 1992. His health was good and he was still very active as president of his condominium. On October 6th of that year my husband and I who live in Virginia, threw a 100th birthday party for him in Florida. As we were leaving to go back to Virginia, Dad said that he wanted to discuss some things with me and would call me in a few weeks. I didn't think much about that remark until the phone rang at our house at 6:00 in the morning about a week later. My father blurted out that he was selling his apartment and moving to Virginia to live with us. Looking back I don't know why I had been surprised but shock is the more appropriate word. I am an only child and I should have been prepared for this, but my father had always been very indepentent. He played golf untl he was 98, became president of his condo at 96, and swam daily. He also took care of his own finances and his apartment with the help of a part time housekeeper. I was sure he had plenty of money until that morning when we received "the call". It turned out that he was almost peniless. He had arranged for a reverse mortgage on his condominium after my mother died 8 years earlier and had gone through most of the cash. All that was left was the condominium and a lot of credit card debt.
To make a very long story short, Dad moved to Virginia and into our home two months later. We were able to sell his condominium and salvage $25,000 for him. He had a monthly social security check to help with his needs and we began what was to be four and a half years of a bitter sweet triangular relationship that would tax my marriage almost to the breaking point. We had a basement in our house which was un utilized and so my architect husband set about designing the perfect senior apartment. My father's furniture arrived in June and I decorated it with his many photographs and keepsakes.
Dad was blessed with wonderful health and didn't take perscription drugs or need any special care but I brought in a companian to fix his lunch and take him out in the car and to doctor and dentist appointments during the work week. My husband and I are both business owners and so I was away during the daytime for at least 9 hours. I would have breakfast with Dad before work and fix his dinner for him when I came home from work while we watched JAG together. Dad went to bed early and my husband worked til 7:30 so I would get Dad to bed, and then fix dinner for my husband and myself. The strain on our marriage was tremendous. Because of the lack of privacy in the house, we couldn't even argue with each other. We had been empty nesters for 10 years and were enjoying some traveling and lots of time together. Now there was little free time together. My husband and father had always been jeolous of each other when it came to me. My husband thought Dad was stubborn, arrogent and self absorbed and he complained that I was becoming just like him. My husband thought that my father considered him irrelivant and and he was right about that. Dad was charming and considerate of everyone except my husband. On the other hand I was enjoying the opportunity to get to know my father in the role of parent. My Dad, for the first time, looked to me for all things. For the first time in our relationship, I was the boss. This is powerful.
We did survive those four and a half years and looking back on them I have no regrets. We allowed my Dad to live as normal a life as possible in his last years. We included him in all our social gatherings and family outings Including 4 more birthday parties. On May 6th of 2005, Dad died peacefully in our home at the age of 104. We never considered putting him in a retirement home and we are so glad that we didn't. Hospice helped us during the last two weeks of his life and I can't say enought good things about this organization. Many of our friends got to know him well and loved to join him for a gin and tonic at cocktail hour in his apartment, while he entertained them with stories about his incredible long life.
I hope this story is an inspiration for all of those who are trying to make a decision about whether to bring a parent into their home or opt for the retirement home. If there are questions, I'd be glad to answer them.

My husband and myself decided three years ago to move in my aging parents. Unfortunately, my Dad had decided to take out a reverse mortgage on their house when he was only in his middle sixties. I cannot tell everyone enough that this is not a great option in your sixties. Fifteen years later, the house was becoming a shambles and the reverse mortgage was eating up alot of their equity. It was at this time that my husband and I started re-vamping their home to sell. With their proceeds they were able to take care of their debt ($30K) and contribute $50K to the additon that we were to build on our existing home for them to move into. My husband was the general contractor on the project and I was continually providing help to him as well as trying to get my parents adjusted to the new living arrangements (we were building when my parents moved in). Mind you we did not have a large home (1100 square feet) and were putting on an additional 500. THere have been trying times over the past 3 years, but everything has worked out for the best, that was until my father passed away last November at the age of 80. It is a blessing that my mom is living with us, as she is now very lonely without her husband of 50 years. If we were to do this all over again the answer would be yes. I cannot tell you how many other people that I know are doing the same thing. In fact our neighbors across the street are building an addition for his mother that is currently living in Florida.

"Trading Places" is a fantastic idea,but would have greater resonance if it dealt with everyday people.To launch such a project featuring EXTREMELY well paid news anchors makes me cynical of the networks real goal:ratings!!BTW February is ratings month!!! A multi-million dollar salary eliminates the most important question: where can i get the best care for my ill parent(s)? i believe the mental anguish of caring for ill parent(s)is related to the quality of care the children can provide/afford.Much love and success to all the parental caregivers.

Hello, NBC News --
I have really enjoyed this series -- both on the national Nightly News and our local KPNX News here in Phoenix. I'm tearful as I write you now, because unfortunately, not all us "boomers" have acquired the financial resources to help our parents out now that they really need it. I know they still maintain perfect credit and take pride in maintaining it that way. Too much, perhaps, that they don't use their credit cards to pay for their medications, which on their limited income, even if it means cutting down on groceries.

Dad was self-employed after losing his job as a foreman field-worker back in the days of "braceros". He led a crew of field-workers harvesting crops or what ever for local growers. That is until Sun City was developed. Literally, from day to the next, dad had to find a way to make a living to support us. Thank God for his interest, knowledge and self-taught abilities in mechanics because he braved it to start up his own business. You need to understand, as unusual as it may seem, in 1959-1960 it just wasn't popular to start up a business -- or get a loan -- or be minority-owned (Hispanic)business. If anything, with the civil rights movement becoming hot and heavy, everything was against him. Fortunately, Dad beat all those odds. I'm sure there were people who helped along the way – like, the "MOBIL" gas delivery man who helped him offer fuel services at the shop (hey, the pumps were already in -- why not) -- but I was too young to realize it. But not that young that I didn’t notice or care how much my MOM was involved, and worried about.

I don't want to get off the track to much here; however, years (MY mid-forties) later upon returning to work after being a 10 year, stay-at-home mother, I was fortunate to be hired by a community-based program who had developed a "microbusiness" loan program --
see internet info regarding just newly-awarded NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WINNER,Muhammad Yunus (Bangladesh)Grameen Bank, or PPEP.org, or U. S. SBA Microbusiness Loans --

Wow! What an eye-opener. I truly believe Dad and his good friend who owned the land our service station was located on, had a loan program going and of course, never realized it!

Needless to say, I took to this job like a duck takes to water. It all seemed to be coming back. When I say all -- I mean, the families I was dealing with. Their struggles -- their goals; dreams, etc. When I say all -- I mean, the business planning, the marketing, the inventory --- small business only means one thing -- You’re the boss, the clerk, the staff, the salesman, the receivables, the payables , right? And Dad and Mom did it all!

I believe that my sibling and I have gained MORE from watching my parents be self-employed than from any other form of job-training. Dad taught us customer service was the most important!

But getting back to taking care of my parents --

Yes, we’re there for them now with Dad being 86 and Mom being 76. Thank God their health for the major part has been good. Mom keeps her high blood pressure and diabetes stable and at a lot better levels than me, let me tell you. Dad, allergies, colds, scrapes and bruises and a few radiator-cap burns, but up until 2005, it was discovered that Dad had a 95% blockage of his carotid artery which required surgery.

So, as you see, WE, my 4 sister and 1 brother and I, ARE at least among those “boomers” lucky enough to still have both parents still living --

Lucky enough to have them provide US with more care than we give them. Seven years ago, shortly after Dad retired for good from a janitorial job with a school district, they started watching my grandson at 5 months old so my daughter could keep on with her medical assistant training and I could keep working as our my youngest daughter was starting at ASU. 3 years later, we added a granddaughter, yet they’re 3 years older; a little harder-hearing; and a little less energetic. But they’re the best Nana and Tata! Okay, that’s GREAT-GRANDCHILDREN --

My parents also helped raise and care for the well-being of 2 of their GRANDCHILDREN from the age of 3 & 4 as you see, their mother, my sister, suffers from mental illness -- manic depression.

And although they haven’t literally helped her out -- there’s yet another sister who also suffers from depression, and still takes a toll on Mom and Dad worrying about her and what not.

My parents have also seen their first grandson suffer from a heart birth defect and die at the age of 29 (1month short of 30) AND less than a year ago, this boy’s mother, Mom and Dad’s eldest daughter, first born -- first to graduate from 8th grade, high school, attend college -- is diagnosed with brain cancer!

Wait a minute here -- who’s suppose to take care of who -- DO THEY want to, WOULD THEY want to trade places with US!

I’m writing this because my parents need to be recognized -- they’re heroic stability to watch their children struggle and or suffer. I mention they’re perfect credit because with my husband in the banking business and the FALL of so many banks during the 90’s, he and I went through a little hardship that affected our credit score and ability to stay on course. Yet my parents have managed -- and although they didn’t have much to help my husband and me meet our responsibilities -- but, they offered. Can you believe that?

By the way, during all those years dad had his business, Mom worked as a seamstress at a sewing factory by night time and helped Dad at the station during the day and got my younger siblings to and from school because day care wasn’t an option -- although my youngest sister was lucky enough to take advantage of Head Start upon it’s inception -- 6 years later, my little brother’s review for Head Start was turned down, because by that time, Dad had a 2nd station -- hmmm --


All in all, I’m so lucky -- I don’t know how I will handle their passing some day -- but I don’t know that I’ll be any good to them if my sister dies first. They took my nephew’s death a lot better than WE did -- without them there to console us, I don’t know?

And NOW, for the big disappointment -- why can’t Dad get assistance from VA for a hearing aid -- don’t they realize his 4 year-old great-granddaughter has things to tell him? Don’t they understand how much SHE is missing not being able to talk to Tata because he kind of hides from any conversation because he can’t hear. No, the VA says his deafness is not a result of war injuries so therefore, he doesn’t qualify -- Hmmm, hopefully, my grandson won’t decide to enlist one day for his country -- oh, wait, there will be some type of compensation if he’s killed, though, right?

Yes, I’m angry, because Dad served his country above and beyond the call of duty, Uncle Sam! He never asked you for welfare when we didn’t have enough money to buy groceries. He never asked for his VA education benefits because he wanted to work and take care of his siblings after he returned from WWII -- come, on! What’s a hearing aid cost? I have an ad for $750.00!

Good luck to all of you who have shared your stories with the nation -- I know how much love and sentiment there was putting them together. I had to many pictures to share, otherwise I would have sent them. Tim Russert, love your show -- bought your book, but after a few pages -- I was ashamed of myself that I haven’t written a book about my parents. Maybe I will!


Sincerely,
Esther Gutierrez Carnero
Eandjcarnero@aol.com

My mother is nearly 87 years old and lives on her own
and she is remarkable! She is legally blind due to macular degeneration but somehow is able to make her own meals, walk her Australian terrier, travel and inspire all of us who know and love her. She had to stop driving about six years ago as her eyes worsened;since she lives in the country in NJ, that adjustment was not easy, but she has taken it in stride.

As a forner WAC, she was eligible to attend the Blind Veterans Program which helped her make the transition from sighted to legally blind.

Fiercely independent, my mother now has to rely on on others to help her with grocery shopping, driving wherever she needs to go, etc. And all of us family and friends are happy to assist her, remembering all the help and generosity that she has shown others throughout her life. She is truly a great lady!

To Nancy More, I agree with you whole heartedly, as I am one of those people who is trying to work, and live with and when necessary assist my 84 year old mother, granted, she is younger than most 84 year olds and people who meet her do not think that she is 84 however she is going to have both knees replaced in order to improve her quality of life. She may be 84 but she has the heart and If her legs would let her the energy of a 64 year old. She just needs better quality of life to be mobile.

I am so grateful for MSNBC participating in awareness for family caregiving. It is important to know that there are many people that are affected with this responsibility, but there is also help. visit www.familycaregiving.org/team40 for more information.

Thanks so much for your series "Trading Places". And I applaud those viewers who have stated they look forward to the series next week when we see the other side of the coin; those of us without the financial resources to place our loved ones in such beautiful places and situations as we have seen this week.
Believe me, I have done my homework about help available (or lack thereof), medicare, medicaid, etc etc etc. We caregivers are not looking for a free ride. Monthly nursing home fees of $3000 to $4000/month private pay is considered on the cheap side. How long can the average person pay this, if at all? And I always hear remarks about how nursing staff is poorly paid and so there may be some people working in care facilities who may not have your loved one's best interests at heart. Families just have to accept this? News flash: if you do not like to work around the elderly, work somewhere else! And to those careworkers who do their job well for low pay and provide a ray of sunshine to the residents, God Bless You!
There are many issues along with financial that someone, somewhere in this country of ours needs to be addressing.

I have enjoyed the series, but in all fairness, most people who take care of aging parents do not have the resources available as those featured this week. Most people do not have the financial or the social resources that those featued this week do. As a medical professional for 24 years, the norm is the husband and wife working 40 plus hours a week, just to get by themselves and then have the responsibility to not only financially, but physically take care of their elderly or disabled relatives. I look forward to next week's series that I hope will depict the "real world" and the struggles and challenges that the "average family" face on a daily basis. Keep up the good work; love your show!

My mother Floris Sullivan, is 77 years old. Her leg was amputated 4 1/2 years ago because of Cancer. She has tried to maintain her independence even with her limitations. After she lost her leg, she was told that she has cancer in her lungs, liver. Her spleen was removed in August of 2006. Initially she was told that she should only get chemotherapy when she feels discomfort. With the kind of cancer she has, she doesn't feel any pain. It's called Sarcoma. We talked her into getting chemo and she is still with us even though her Oncology Doctor was sure he wouldn't see her alive again after her first appointment with him. I know this because I go with her to all of her appointments with the doctor. It is a fact that the elderly are told that they shouldn't bother with cancer treatments. There is discrimination when an older person goes for treatment. I was told by a friend that I should fight for my mother and to make sure she fights too. I'm glad we did.

Studies show that most Americans and their care givers do not understand Medicare benefits that could assist them in their homes. I would recommend a follow up story on Medicare Home Health Care and the Medicare Hospice Benefits.

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