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Carroll County Times
Carroll County

Caregivers conference to focus on new resources

Caregivers are often plagued with anxiety.

They're worrying if an elderly parent took the correct dosage of medicine on time, if follow-up doctor's appointments are being scheduled, if a loved one's best interests are being cared for in the medical world.

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As the health system changes, so does the philosophy of care. There's more manpower inside hospitals devoted to make sure the patient doesn't fall through the cracks and that they and their family know the true meaning of a diagnosis. And that means there are more resources for the son or daughter who is caring for an elderly parent - services which will be highlighted at a caregivers conference titled "Ever Changing Health Care: The Latest."

The conference is hosted by the Carroll County Bureau of Aging and Disabilities, McDaniel College's Center for the Study of Aging and Carroll Hospital Center, and 5 p.m. today is the deadline to register for the Saturday event from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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In the past, the free conference has focused on how the caregiver - whose days often leave little time for themselves - can find ways to cope through exercise, monthly date nights and support groups, according to Nancy Ensor, the Bureau of Aging and Disabilities senior care and family caregiver support programs manager.

While these coping mechanisms will be incorporated this year, the focus of the conference is on how to care for a loved one.

The conference features various speakers on concepts such as the health-care system's new concepts, palliative care, everyday rehabilitation and more.

There's a whole new concept in health care that can help save caregivers some worry, according to Dr. David Louder, Carroll Hospital Center's vice president of physician partnership.

"What we want to do is change the system," he said, "so that we keep people healthy and out of the hospital so that they live better lives and probably help the health system save money all at the same time."

Louder will serve as the keynote speaker for the event, located at the Westminster Senior and Community Center. His talk, titled "A New Way to Look at Health Care," from 9:15 to 10:30 a.m. will dive into these changes.

Because a lot of caregivers or the patient may be beginning to get calls from navigators, transition coordinators, disease managers or others. While the names may be different, the job description is a similar one: These people are charged with ensuring the patient is getting what they need, Louder said.

"I like to call them the glue of the health-care system," Louder said. "They're what pull all the pieces together."

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Navigators work to make sure the patient is getting the appropriate appointments scheduled and will call to follow up afterward. They'll ask how it went and help explain any new medications or concepts to the patient.

Transition coordinators will oftentimes make home visits to patients who have left the hospital and have a high risk of coming back. They'll go over medications and are available if something happens, Louder said.

And they can also help alleviate any confusion for both the caregiver and the patient, putting medical concepts into layman's terms after a doctor's visit.

And if the daughter or son doesn't live in the same community as their elderly patient, these navigators can help give some semblance of peace of mind, according to Louder.

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"It's knowledge that there's somebody in the community who's looking out for their loved one," he said, "and it's also a resource point for that daughter who's a caregiver for an elderly parent."

Another discussion includes a talk by Carroll Hospital Center palliative care nurse Monica Clark-McGrew from 10:45 to 11:30 a.m. on another resource, titled "Palliative Care: An Extra Layer of Support."

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Palliative care nurses are a resource for those with a serious illness, focusing on bolstering quality of life and relieving patients of suffering. They work closely with physicians, case managers and nurses to come up with the best plans for the patient, said Clark-McGrew.

These nurses meet with the patient, their family and any other loved ones to help put everyone on the same page. They'll help explain what the illness means, its parameters and treatment, according to Clark-McGrew.

"I want them to know that they can be supported in a time of great turmoil and anxiety," she said, "that they have an extra hand with the supportive palliative care to help them get through it."

The speakers will begin presenting at 9 a.m. after a light breakfast and will wrap up around 2:30 p.m. Afterward, vendors will be available for about 30 minutes, which includes tables from Homecall, Visiting Angels, Emeritus at Westminster, Home Instead Senior Care, Carroll Hospital Center, Right At Home, McDaniel College's Center for the Study of Aging, Bureau of Aging and Disabilities, and Family and Children's Services Elder Service Division.

"I want people to walk away with ideas in terms of how to care for themselves and how to care for their loved one," Ensor said.


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