It's not surprising that many senior citizens are baffled and distressed by the stream of paperwork and other complexitities of present day society - they grew up in a far simpler world.
In response to the situation, the Prince George's County Department of Services and Programs for the Aging has a counseling service that was launched by a training workshop last February. Graduates now serve as volunteers in six locations including Laurel, New Carrollton, Bowie, Hyattsville, Oxon Hill and Cottage City.
Ursula Nogie, director of the program, emphasizes that the counselor aides, as they are called, are not professionals. Senior citizens themselves they are informed and sympathetic helpers for all who seek their services. When specialized counseling is needed, aides make appropriate referral.
A sampling of the kinds of concerns handled by counselor aides includes: a woman wanting advice about collecting a debt: a woman in her 60s who dropped in to discuss her mother's tendency to wander: a senior needing help in completing an insurance form, and a widow asking how to check on the reliability of a contractor hired to do work on her house.
While any number of concerns can be and are handled by the Senior Information and Referral Service (925-4477. any time), Nogie explained that the "real problems" often come after the opening question is answered. A visitor to a center may come in to ask about the discount program and after gaining confidence in the aide may bring up some crisis situation like a medical anxiety, domestic difficulty or a housing problem.
Before counselor aides are placed they receive 25 hours of training in cooperation with the University of Maryland's Counseling and Personnel Services Department. Professors Nancy Schlossberg and Zandy Liebowitz conducted the training sessions for the original group. Leibowitz described her elderly students as "quite capable and highly motivated."
Counselor aides serve as volunteers four hours a week at one of the designated centers. The centers are: Bowie YMCA (262 9622), Tuesday 15 p.m.: Laurel "Help Laurel" (490 7652), Thursdays 9 a.m. 1 p.m.: New Carrollton City Hall (459 610), Fridays 9 a.m. 1 p.m.: Hyattsville Magruder Library (277 0282), Wednesdays 12-4 p.m. Oxon Hill Library (339-2400 ext. 50). Mondays and Wednesdays 12-4 p.m.: and Cottage City P.G. Senior Clinic (927-6129), Wednesdays 12-4 p.m.
There are plans in Prince George's County to conduct a training workshop for a second group of counselor aides. Training sessions will begin in October and continue for 10 weeks. Call 350-0650 or write the Department of Aging, 9171 Central Ave., Capital Heights. Md. 20027, for an application.
The Community Services Office of Prince George's Community College is sponsoring a free lecture series for area senior citizens. Local experts in a variety of fields lead discussions every Thursday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. through Dec. 1. The meetings are being held in Building T-8 on the college campus in Largo. For more information call 336-6000, extension 477. Here is the schedule for the remainder of the lecture series:
Oct. 6 - "Coffee and Conversation," led by Winfield Kelly. Oct. 13 - "Patients, Members of the Health Care Team," led by Jutta Hagner; Oct. 20 - "Coffee and Conversation," Rep. Margorie Holt and Rep. Gladys Spellman; Oct. 27 - "Transportation Outlook for the Largo Area," Dee Allison, Department of Transportation, and Jerry Gough, Metro; Nov. 3 - "Your Medication and You," Alan Berger, registered pharmacist; Nov. 10 - "Protect Yourself From Fraud," Lea Thompson; Nov. 17 - "The Mandel Trial and Its Ramifications," Professor Abraham Dasl of Maryland University law school; Dec. 1 - "The Hospice - A Place Especially for the Terminally Ill," De. Josefina Magno of George town University Hospital.