Class for caregivers to cover needs of elderly and resources available

January 26, 1994|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Staff Writer

If you are taking care of an elderly person, a new continuing education class beginning Feb. 22 in Westminster could help you become a better caregiver while reducing your own stress level.

"Too Much To Do, Too Little Time, Not Enough Me" is a series of six classes designed to provide information and support for caregivers. The classes are sponsored by the Carroll County public school system and the Carroll County Bureau of Aging.

"There are a whole lot of caregivers who don't even know they are [caregivers]," said Sharon Baker, client services supervisor TC for the Carroll County Bureau on Aging, who will lead two of the sessions.

Anyone who shops for another person, or lays out his or her clothes in the morning, is a caregiver, she said.

"I think they're mostly unsung heroes," said Ann U. Allen, coordinator of the Carroll County office of the state Senior Information and Assistance Program. Often, she said, neighbors become caregivers, acting as surrogates for absent family members.

"I don't think I've seen anyone as resourceful in my life" as caregivers, Ms. Baker said.

She cited the example of a woman caring for her husband, who had Alzheimer's disease. The man tended to wander away at night -- until his wife devised the strategy of tying a thread from one of his toes to one of hers each night, to alert her if he got out of bed.

However, Ms. Baker said, many caregivers are not aware of all the help available to them, and knowing where to turn for help is crucial.

For example, she said, there are 12 home health agencies in Carroll County alone that can provide help with certain needs -- if caregivers know the help is available.

Ms. Baker will lead the first class in the series, on the physiology of aging and myths and stereotypes associated with aging.

The class will give participants a chance to place themselves in an older person's shoes, through the use of props such as glasses that show what it is like to have limited peripheral vision.

Ms. Baker said people who have attended this talk in the past learned how difficult it is to live with physical changes caused by aging.

"They leave saying, 'I'm going to have more patience,' " she said.

The second session will focus on elder abuse and will be taught by Carol Purkins, Carroll County long-term care ombudsman. Participants will learn what can lead to abuse and how to avoid becoming an abuser or an abuse victim.

The third class will cover Medicare, Medicare supplemental insurance, and long-term care insurance. It will be taught by Susan Cronin, coordinator for Senior Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy for the Carroll County Bureau of Aging.

Legal aspects of aging, including living wills and advance directives for health care, will be the topic of the fourth session, to be taught by Gail Jones, guardian program coordinator with the Carroll County Bureau of Aging. The class will also explore ways to help seniors avoid falling victim to fraud.

Housing alternatives and long-term care will be the theme of the fifth class, to be taught by Ms. Baker.

Coping with change, such as a move, retirement or the death of a loved one, will be the focus of the final class, to be taught by Lynette Brewer, community services supervisor with the Carroll County Bureau of Aging.

People may attend one session or all. The cost is $5 per session or $20 for the entire course. Depending on the number of people who register, discounts may be available for senior citizens.

The sessions will be held Tuesdays from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m, beginning Feb. 22, in Rooms 121 and 122 of the Emergency Operations Center on Washington Road in Westminster.

For further information, call the Alternative Education Program of the Carroll County Board of Education at 848-4441 or 848-6272.

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