Resource center aims to aid those in caregiver role


November 06, 2001|By Betsy Diehl | Betsy Diehl,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

IN THE Columbia spirit of neighbors helping neighbors, a center has opened to assist Howard County residents who take care of elderly relatives or friends. The Caregiver Resource Center of Howard County marked its grand opening yesterday with an open house to introduce the community to the staff and a wealth of resources.

"We're like a library," said Elizabeth Wexler, manager of the center.

The facility has an extensive collection of books on eldercare. The staff also provides information about, and links to, many services and support networks available to county residents who have taken on the role of caregiver to a senior citizen.

The clients Wexler expects to serve are not professional caregivers.

They are people who suddenly, and perhaps unexpectedly, are caring for someone who can no longer care for himself or herself. Wexler said it is a role for which most are unprepared. But many face this prospect as the population ages.

"Sometimes people don't know what they need," Wexler said. "The advantage of coming in is that the staff and volunteers can help."

While the center does not provide care services, it puts people in touch with resources such as senior centers, nursing care facilities, home care services and physicians and attorneys who specialize in geriatric issues.

The staff also helps families identify and anticipate needs based on individual situations, Wexler said.

The center charges no fees and is available to all residents of Howard County.

The center is the result of a communal effort. Under the auspices of Jewish Family Services of Howard County, the nonsectarian center is funded by grants from Horizon Foundation and United Way and receives support from the Howard County Office on Aging, said Columbia resident Liz Schoen of the Howard County Office of Jewish Family Services.

"It's a real community triumph," Schoen said. "It speaks to the ability of the community to make something like this come together."

The idea sprang from discussions among members of the Howard County Caregivers Resource Coalition, an association of more than 25 organizations concerned with the needs of caregivers.

"Caregivers really need a place to turn," said Jessica Rowe of Columbia, who formed the coalition with Elizabeth O'Connor and Barbara Harris nearly two years ago. At the time, Rowe was working in the county Office of Jewish Family Services, and O'Connor and Harris were at the Office on Aging.

Rowe, now at the agency's Baltimore office, said it was clear to the coalition that such a center would benefit county residents.

"They need someone to help them negotiate the maze of information that's out there," she said. That task can be especially difficult when compounded by a crisis, such as a parent suffering a debilitating stroke.

"Relatives have to figure out what to do fast," Schoen said. She recommends a visit to the center before a crisis occurs.

"If you plan, it makes it that much easier," she said. "You have to be ready at the drop of a hat."

The center is in the Parkridge Plaza Building, 8950 Route 108, Suite 115.

Information: 410-715-5057.

Wilde artisans

Four east Columbians will be among the artists showcased in the Artfully Wilde show and sale Saturday at Slayton House Gallery in Wilde Lake village.

The show will include functional pottery by Winnie Coggins, Chinese brush paintings by Jing-Jy Chen, marbleized silk scarves by Liz Henzey and stained glass by Sally Warner.

All items are for sale (only 49 days until Christmas), and admission is free. The hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m..

Information: 410-730-3987.

Baskets of fun

If you like Longaberger baskets, enjoy playing bingo and want to help a nonprofit organization raise cash, Oakland Mills Nursery School has just the event.

On Saturday, the cooperative school will hold Longaberger basket bingo at Ellicott City Lions Club, 5005 Waterloo Road.

Doors open at 6 p.m.; the games begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance; $15 at the door. Prizes, tucked into retired and current models of the famous basket brand, include restaurant gift certificates, Orioles tickets and movie passes.

Desserts, snacks and soft drinks will be available for sale.

Proceeds will help pay for new playground equipment and music and science supplies.

Tickets and information: 410- 379-5524 or 410-964-0209.

Parting words

To find the best place to view the autumn foliage, ask an artist.

Trudy Babchak of Owen Brown said that every fall she drives to Great Falls, Va., to marvel at the scenery and capture it with her paints.

She is drawn to the area on the Potomac River by "the colors and crisp air and ruggedness of it," she said. "It's like Niagara Falls, but not as big."

Babchak has visited the falls each fall since her freshman year at the University of Maryland, College Park.

"It would cheer me up to look at the falls," she said.

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