Help available for caregivers of the agedThe challenging...

LETTERS

December 01, 1997

Help available for caregivers of the aged

The challenging and sometimes overwhelming circumstances of caring for aging relatives were illustrated in Dan Rodricks' column, "Care of ill mother too much for woman" (Nov. 14). A daughter tried to manage her ill mother's affairs herself with discouraging results. Caring for an older person does not have to be a singular responsibility, as seemed to be the case in this situation.

The Maryland Office on Aging and 19 local agencies on aging offer a variety of programs and services to assist older individuals and caregivers. Last year the statewide Senior Information and Assistance Program responded to more than 348,000 inquiries and requests for assistance. The program offers individual assessments, referrals and follow-up contacts to streamline the caregiving process.

In addition, programs such as Senior Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy, Senior Legal Assistance, Long-term

Care Ombudsman and Congregate Housing Services can also address individual needs. Self-referral to these or other aging services programs is accepted, as well as referrals by a spouse or other family member, a friend, neighbor or co-worker. All calls are confidential and handled with sensitivity.

By 2010, Maryland citizens aged 60 and older will represent 18 percent of the state's population. While a majority of mature adults will maintain well-being and independence, an increasing number will require some level of caregiving. Just as it "takes a village to raise a child," it also takes a village to care for vulnerable, older adults.

I encourage citizens to become more familiar with their local aging services before an acute need arises. If you know of an older adult or caregiver who may need assistance, encourage them to contract the local area agency on aging or call the Maryland Office on Aging, 1-800-AGE-DIAL.

Sue Fryer Ward

Baltimore

The writer is director of the Maryland Office on Aging.

Social workers need cooperation

If readers are appalled when they read of yet another child falling through the cracks of the child protective services systems, how must the child protective services social workers feel?

Glad to know that more people are reporting cases, resulting from all the press coverage? Or desperate because of growing case loads (usually more than double the recommended 18-20), and frustrated at the lack of resources to do the job?

CPS social workers carry enormous responsibility requiring exceptional skills. They are expected to understand personality development, methods of child rearing and child care, obligations, duties and rights of parents and the effects of

deprivation of parental care.

They also require specific knowledge of legislation relating to child abuse and neglect. They must prepare for court hearings, provide testimony and implement court orders.

They must work with agencies and individuals in the community to provide services to families and children who require emergency or supplemental care. They have to make decisions and solve problems that vitally affect the lives of children and parents.

On top of all that, they have to complete administrative tasks such as collecting and applying data, keeping records and evaluating progress and problems.

These social workers deserve the full support and cooperation of the communities in which they work.

Additional social workers should be hired to ease current unsustainable case loads, thereby reducing the chance that additional heart-wrenching situations will occur. Especially in a year with a revenue surplus, who could deny this worthwhile expenditure?

Moya Atkinson

Baltimore

The writer is executive director of the Maryland chapter, National Association of Social Workers.

Saddam knows how to get satisfaction

Haven't we seen this before? It seems that whenever Saddam Hussein wants to get a little revenge/satisfaction he knows all he has to do is deny something to the United Nations and the United States will respond by sending tens of thousands of our soldiers and coalition troops to the Persian Gulf, along with an armada of ships, fighters, bombers, etc.

Saddam knows this is at great expense to us. He does this at the beginning of the holiday season because he also knows it will spoil the holidays for all involved. I wonder who has the upper hand in these "crises"?

Robert Gooch

Glen Burnie

Blame the schools, not the pupils

It was wonderful to read a series on reading instruction and not on discipline, violence or weapons in the schools. The in ability of children to read is a much larger and more serious problem.

One consequence of teaching city school children to read will be, I predict, a reduction in behavior problems.

For children who cannot read, or who read poorly, school is a boring, frustrating and embarrassing place. Many school support staff recognize that learning problems (actually, teaching problems) are the source of much disruptive behavior in schools.

Children and their families have often been scapegoated for poor performance in schools. Poor test scores were blamed on poverty and drug-addicted or neglectful parents.

Hopefully, the emphasis will now be focused on improving instruction.

Courtney Petersen

Columbia

Lucille Ball would approve

I applaud David Zurawik's Nov. 19 comment that "Ellen" is a sitcom classic worthy of the same accolades as Lucille Ball's sitcoms.

If Lucille Ball were alive today, she, too, would applaud Ellen DeGeneres for the woman she is: a fine comedian.

Kelly Sheridan

Glen Burnie

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