Front Page

Previous Story

Next Story

NIH Record

ORWH Seminar Looks at Elder Issues

By Chinwe Onyekere

On the Front Page...
By the year 2040, there will be 30 million people 80 or more years old in the United States. The increased number of elderly people poses new challenges for American society. Women are frequently caught between the generations as caregivers for both the young and old. Caring for the caregiver is an important concern in women's health, and was the topic of a recent Office of Research on Women's Health seminar, "Elder Options and Care Giving."

Dr. Maureen Edwards, coordinator of the Health Education Program at Montgomery College, spoke of the legal and social implications of the growing population of elders, including the need for changes in current government programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. She raised the question, "Who cares for the caregiver?" At a time when grandparents are taking care of their grandchildren, she explained, attention needs to be paid to the health status of the grandparent. She emphasized seven traits for living well: optimism, adaptability, a sense of control, resilience, meaningful projects, meaningful relationships, and self-esteem.

Marie Infante, a nurse and attorney, explained legal and management issues facing the elderly. Advancing technology is keeping people alive longer and, in turn, is raising issues about the needs of the elderly. The living will is an issue Infante says is important for the elderly community and their families. She discussed the intricacies of a living will, a document that clarifies the patient's wishes to be resuscitated, removed from life support, or other life-determining situations. Infante emphasized that it is important to get expert advice on how to structure such a will. There is a difference between power of attorney and durable power of attorney; an expert should explain such differences and other information, so that the whole family understands details of the document.

Ellen Greenberg provided information about the variety of living arrangements for the elderly. Director of information services and the senior helpline of the Jewish Council for the Aging, she discussed a number of uncommon living arrangements such as small groups of elderly living together. She said interested caregivers should ask plenty of questions and acquire as much information as possible. Greenberg noted two living options in detail: retirement communities and assisted living, each of which serve differing needs. Retirement communities appeal to people looking for independence with services like transportation, while assisted living arrangements appeal to people who need more care services such as housekeeping and meals.

The last speaker, Judy Kramer, director of publications for the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, shared her perspective as a caregiver for her parents. Offering a personal account of her successes and mistakes as a caregiver and dealing with such challenges as obtaining Medicare coverage, elder living options, and balancing time between children and parents, she was able to explain what worked better for her in certain situations so that the audience could learn from her experiences.

In addition to the seminar, an expo allowed more than 25 organizations, including the American Association of Retired Persons, the Jewish Council for the Aging, and the National Council on Senior Citizens, to disseminate information concerning elder issues.

More than 25 organizations offered information at an expo that was part of "Elder Options and Care Giving," a recent ORWH seminar.

"Alzheimer's Disease," the next ORWH Women's Health Seminar, will be held at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 25 in Lipsett Amphitheater, Bldg. 10. For details, call 2-1770.

Up to Top