An international news correspondent and author will visit Paris this spring to share his personal experience as a caregiver. On Thursday, April 21, Barry Petersen of CBS News will discuss caring for his wife, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at age 55.
To create a greater awareness of their organization, the PCH Caregiver Support Group, along with Paris Community Hospital, is organizing this free program featuring Petersen. “Caring Together…Caregiver Support” will begin at 7 pm on April 21 at the Paris Center of Fine Arts on the campus of the new Paris high school.
The Caregiver Support Group, which has been in existence for more than 15 years, is held in collaboration with the Chester P. Sutton Center for Seniors of Edgar County. The goal of the support group is to provide information and support to those who care for family members or friends diagnosed with a chronic disease.
In a career spanning more than three decades with CBS News, Barry Petersen has reported on a wide variety of subjects – from wars and natural disasters to fashions in Paris, France and the return of American jazz to Shanghai, China. He has reported from virtually every continent.
His war reporting includes being embedded with US soldiers in Iraq and the US military’s Operation Restore Hope, aimed at easing famine in Somalia. He rode in a tank as Soviet troops retreated from Afghanistan, and one of his reports was later featured in the movie Charlie Wilson’s War.
Petersen’s coverage of the Bosnian war and the courage of men, women, and children under fire in Sarajevo earned him one of his Emmy Awards for the “Spirit of Sarajevo” on CBS Sunday Morning. In 2010, he was recognized with another Emmy Award for his coverage of the global recession in China.
Petersen’s Sunday Morning story about his wife Jan and Alzheimer’s disease earned a national 2011 Edward R. Morrow Award, and was nominated for a national 2011 Emmy Award. He later authored “Jan’s Story: A Love Lost to the Long Goodbye of Alzheimer’s.” Petersen declared, “I believe that by sharing this journey, and by living beyond Jan’s battle with the early onset Alzheimer’s disease, I honor her.”
Petersen moved back to the United States in fall 2009 after working overseas for 24 years, having lived in Tokyo, Moscow, London, and Beijing. He now lives in Denver, Colorado, and reports primarily for the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley and CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood. He holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.
Petersen’s book about his wife may be purchased the evening of the program, and Petersen will be available after his presentation to sign them. To purchase his book prior to the program, call Cindy Belt at the hospital at 217-465-2606, Ext. 734.
Carolyn Sutton, licensed clinical social worker and facilitator of the Caregiver Support Group, said a quote from Rosalyn Carter says it best: “There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver.”
Sutton said a major goal of the “Caring Together…Caregiver Support” program is to let caregivers know they are not alone. They have support of families, as well as entire communities. In addition, the program can be valuable to anyone who may become a caregiver for a loved one in the future.
A current member of the Caregiver Support Group said: “At first, I didn’t feel I belonged in this group as my mother didn’t yet require constant attention or 24-hour care. I soon learned that different types of care are needed at various stages of aging, and I am grateful for the support and resources. The Caregivers support Group has helped me to be more patient, understanding, and compassionate.”
Everyone in the community is encouraged to attend the April 21 event to hear this world-renowned journalist share his personal journey as a caregiver.