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U.S. Surgeon General

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Do you know the name of the U.S. Surgeon General or the purpose and priorities of that position? Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy caught my (team's) attention first with a fun video on Facebook promoting walking and walkable communities. Next, I heard him being introduced as a guest player on NPR's popular comedy program "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!" Dr. Murthy showed his sense of humor while clearly and effectively communicating his four public health priorities and emphasizing the important role of laughter in healthy living.

His priorities are 1) tobacco-free living, 2) mental and emotional well-being, 3) healthy eating, and 4) active living. These preventative health measures make sense for us all, and will enable us to safely remain in our homes and age well in our communities. Healthy living - taking personal responsibility for a lifetime of taking care of oneself and family members - is key to keeping our spirits up and health care costs down.

The Surgeon General is responsible for communicating the best available scientific information to the public regarding ways to improve personal and public health. I enjoy the U.S. Surgeon General's creative posts to Facebook and overall use of social media. Posts include videos of him out and about, in uniform. He gets his key messages across in innovative and fun ways. He has appeared alongside Elmo on Sesame Street and even has a cartoon version of himself! Note to the SG: we have heard your messages and share them widely with our CareLinx network of families and their caregivers. Thank you!

Dr. Murthy especially caught my attention because in a Health 2.0 presentation in October, he challenged the technology industry to use innovation to improve the health of the nation. This resonates with me because the business I founded several years ago works with families who need professional caregivers so their parents can remain safely in their homes. Unfortunately, preventative care is not always enough to keep our loved ones healthy or able to manage alone. Accidents, genetic inheritance, illness, and age-related weaknesses often turn a family upside down. Increasingly, families and their aging parents need someone to provide home care. In November, the Huffington Post carried an article I wrote about harnessing technology to understand the burdens of caregiving. In it, I quoted the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's program director David Adler, who states that caregiving is a public health challenge.

I commend Dr. Murthy on including caregivers in many of his remarks, and feel that one way to develop a strong and healthy America is to strengthen, support, and recognize the value of caregivers. This can be done in many ways, including training and higher wages. This week, CareLinx entered into a pilot program with CareAcademy in order to provide and strengthen home caregivers' skills and knowledge of senior care needs and issues. We are also an advocate of higher wages for caregivers.

Stay strong, live healthy, and fill your life with laughter. Tune into and follow the Surgeon General's advice. But if your world turns upside down and you need a home caregiver, they are there for you.