Balto. Co. program to offer tips on caring for seniors

Doctors' offices to help distribute health guide

May 03, 2004|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,SUN STAFF

Hoping to help residents take care of senior citizens, Baltimore County will launch a program today to distribute through senior centers, hospitals and doctors' offices literature describing resources for caregivers.

County Executive James T. Smith Jr. is scheduled to announce the program, called Project DOCS (Doctors Offering Caregiver Support) at Bykota Senior Center in Towson this morning.

The county has printed a booklet, "The Family Caregiver Health Guide," to help people organize the medical history of senior citizens they care for by tracking medical care and appointments, documenting medical tests and listing medications and drug allergies.

Physicians also will receive racks of brochures about services available for seniors and those who care for them.

The timing of the initiative is particularly important because of the federal launch of Medicare discount drug cards, which are causing confusion among seniors and doctors alike, said Baltimore County Department of Aging Director Arnold Eppel.

"Many seniors are going to be going in to the physicians and asking them about it," Eppel said. "We're going to be taking the confusion out of it."

The county is printing 30,000 copies of the booklet, which also details the warning signs of heart attack and stroke, and lists questions to ask before taking a new medication.

Eppel said distributing the brochures through doctors' offices and hospitals is important because physicians are a first point of contact for many seniors, but they often don't have the information they need to connect patients with services.

"It's been the missing link all along," he said.

Donna DeLeno, advocacy director of AARP Maryland, said the resources Baltimore County is providing are increasingly important as baby boomers start taking care of their parents.

"Our members are telling us clearly ... that they really need to get that one-stop shopping. They really need to get one point of entry, one place to make one call and get as much information as they can without getting the run-around," she said.

Information: 410-887-2594.

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