Elder care program finds a permanent home on campus

By Dawn Finch, University Health Services

29 NOV 2000 | For the past three years, a steady stream of staff and faculty members has made its way to Norma Grimm's door, looking for help taking care of older relatives.

Grimm, a medical social worker who coordinates the Elder Care Program on campus, has steadfastly received her visitors, walking them through steps they need to take to manage their roles as caregivers. As word has spread, more and more people, hundreds, in fact, have sought her counsel, workshops and support circles.

Now, this ever-growing group of caregivers can depend on continued help from the Elder Care Program, formerly a pilot, which has been funded permanently by Chancellor Berdahl.

More than a quarter of the faculty and staff population over 30 report they are providing some level of care for an adult relative or friend. This imposing number, based on a survey done in the '90s by Social Welfare Professor Andrew Scharlach, moved the Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Dependent Care to recommend the formation of an elder care counseling program; the pilot was instituted as a part of CARE Services at University Health Services.

In her three-plus years coordinating the program and serving as the counselor, Grimm has done everything from serving as a sympathetic ear to helping work out assisted living arrangements for long-distance relatives. Some people, especially newcomers to the caregiving role, just want to know what to expect.

"Many times, as soon as people are equipped with the numbers to call and people to see, they are okay," says Grimm.

But a full quarter of the cases she sees are related to dementia, which raises complicated issues of care and supervision, and all the by-products of the responsibility it imposes: family tension, financial strain, and demands on time and energy. These days it is not exceptional when someone has a house full of teenagers, works full-time, and is watching out for their parents, too.

"People are living longer, and women, the traditional caregivers, are working - and the elder care phenomenon is growing," explains Grimm. "I'm just so glad the campus has seen fit to extend this kind of help to its staff."

The Elder Care Program, available to faculty and staff, is part of CARE Services at University Health Services. For information or to make a confidential appointment, call 643-7754.


Home | Search | Archive | About | Contact | More News

Copyright 2000, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.

Comments? E-mail