When holidays bring together young and old family members, the brightly wrapped boxes under the tree don’t hold the only surprises.
In fact, says Lisa Gwyther of Duke University Medical Center’s Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development, holiday visits can expose an older family member’s frailties to the rest of the clan.
That’s why the center’s Family Support Program staff fields a flood of calls between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day from Duke University system employees wondering what their options are when it comes to helping elderly relatives in need.
The center operates year-round. Aside from helping professionals and elderly members of the community with their geriatric needs, the federally funded center functions as an elder care work/life program for the university’s 25,000 employees.
The center has two social workers to answer employees’ elder care questions in person, by phone or through e-mails.
Still, the service is not a generalor a counseling service, Gwyther stresses. Rather, the social workers consult with employees to help decide, for example, if an elderly loved one should move in with the family. Sometimes, the solution is as simple as referring a family caregiver to resources in the area.
Contact: Lisa Gwyther at firstname.lastname@example.org.