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The Westminster Senior Activities Center, Carroll County will host what used to known as the grandparents conference on Saturday, Sept. 21.
The Westminster Senior Activities Center, Carroll County will host what used to known as the grandparents conference on Saturday, Sept. 21. (Jeffrey F. Bill / Carroll County/Carroll County Times)

The Carroll County Bureau of Aging and Disabilities will hold its 10th annual Caregiver Conference on Saturday, Oct. 19 at the Westminster Senior and Community Center, and according to Nancy Ensor, case manager for the senior care and family caregiver support programs, it’s an event that has really grown. Whereas the first event saw some 15 people attend, last year’s conference drew around 100.

“Carroll County has an aging population ... so there are a lot of people in a caregiving situation,” Ensor said. “We give people information on how to take care of their loved ones and I think that’s one of the main reasons it’s grown.”

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This year’s free conference will take place from 8:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., and will include free continental breakfast and lunch, but those interested need to register no later than 5:30 p.m. on Friday by calling 410-386-3800.

The theme for this year’s conference is, “Are your ducks in a row?” the idea being to get people thinking ahead for themselves and their loved ones, according to Ensor.

“With this conference we are trying to get people thinking about what is coming down the pike, as well as dealing with caregiving issues they have right now,” she said.

Topics will include Medicare for those who are getting close to eligibility or who need to understand Medicare to help care for an older loved one, palliative care, advanced directives and Maryland Order for Life Sustaining Treatment or MOLST forms, which must be filed along with an advanced directive to ensure wishes with regards to resuscitation or other care are adhered to, according to Ensor.

There will also be presentations on understanding dementia-related behaviors, demonstrations of musical therapy and presentations on the financial planning necessary for aging in place.

“We also invited Dr. Dan Andersen, who is a gerontologist and aging-in-place specialist,” Said Celene Steckel, chief of the bureau. “He is going to speak about all of those different pieces of housing and aging and what services you can expect in those different housing situations.”

Everyone who attends the conference will receive a booklet called Financial Considerations for Retirement Planning.

“There’s one thing that I am really proud of,” Ensor said. “It’s a book where you can financially determine the cost for aging in place, living in an adult community or living in assisted living — it has all those options and has worksheets where you can sit down and figure you where you need to go at this point in time.”

Another way in which the conference has grown over the years, according to Steckel, has been the inclusion of partner agencies with information tables.

“They can talk to folks from the Department of Social Services, they can talk to folks from different in-home care providers and get questions answered,” Steckel said.

“And it should be noted that AARP is a co-sponsor,” Ensor added.

Overall, through various programs in addition to the conference itself, the bureau touches more than 1,000 people in Carroll County who are taking care of an older adult in their family, according to Steckel and even those who cannot make it to the conference can reach out for support. There are grants available to help pay for medication co-pays and other forms of care for older adults, while Ensor runs a support group for caregivers that meets at at 4 p.m. the second Tuesday of the month at the Bureau’s 125 Stoner Ave., Westminster location.

To learn more, call 410-386-3800.

If You Go

What: 10th annual Carroll County Bureau of Aging & Disabilities Caregiver Conference

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When: 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19

Where: Westminster Senior and Community Center, 125 Stoner Ave., Westminster

Cost: Free, but registration required. Call 410-386-3800 no later than 5:30 p.m. Friday

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