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Advice on caring for older relatives

September 14, 2000

Advice on caring for older relatives



By KEVIN CLAPP / Staff Writer


Fred Otto, executive director of Washington County Commission on Aging, and Barbara Ensor, a psychologist at Stella Maris in Timonium, Md., a nonprofit organization that provides elder care, offer the following tips on care for elderly relatives:

Help them remain independent.

"If you lend too much support to seniors, they will not become as independent as they should be in their later years," Otto says.

Children should involve their parents in as many decisions as possible. If you take care of your parents' finances, balance the books with them so they know how much money there is and where it is going, Ensor says.

Help parents remain active.

"The sandwich generation has to understand that remaining socially connected for seniors is important for everyone," Otto says.

Children should encourage their parents to volunteer, go to senior centers or church groups, or have a part-time job to remain in touch with what is happening in the world around them.

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Plan early for the future.

Ensor says children need to sit down with their parents and discuss their affairs. Making sure finances are in order, wills have been drafted and an elderly parent's wishes are known can avoid emotional and legal wrangling if something happens.

"Someone needs to know these things. It's just a sensible thing to do," she says.

Take advantage of support groups.

"There are support groups available on almost every topic about taking care of seniors," Otto says. Using them can keep children and parents from internalizing stress and emotion, preventing these from developing into illness or depression.

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