The Family and Children's Services of Central Maryland has initiated a program to help Baltimore families care for their elderly.
The United Way non-profit organization has extended its social services projects to include the Care-givers Support Program, an effort to provide family care-givers with in-home training in personal care tasks for the elderly such as bathing, grooming and nutrition.
"Studies consistently indicate that over 80 percent of all elder care is provided by family and friends," said Marshall Nock, director of the Care-givers Support Program. "As the aging population increases in number, care-giver training becomes more and more important to the health and well-being of the elderly and their families."
Statistics released by the Baltimore Commission on Aging and Retirement show that 144,000 Baltimore residents are 60 or older and at least 8,000 residents are more than 70.
Before the in-home training begins, an agency social worker will assess the elderly client and the family member responsible for most of his care. The assessment is aimed at accurately identifying the elderly person's needs.
A registered nurse will then spend an hour or two in the client's home, teaching the care-giver such skills as how to safely lift the elderly, transfer a patient from bed to chair and prepare a correct diet -- all free of charge.
After the initial training by a registered nurse, each family will be monitored by Family and Children Services to ensure the success of the training, and to determine whether further referral or advocacy is needed.
"The whole idea of the program is to educate the care-giver and ultimately alleviate the stress stemming from caring for an elderly patient that may lead to elder abuse or premature institutionalization," said Nock.
Family and Children Services also is in the process of setting up Care Line, a telephone support service. That project is to be operational weekdays 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.