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Senior Power

New resource directory lists hundreds of links to health information and aids for older Americans

SUNDAY, Oct. 14, 2001 (HealthDayNews) -- Ever wonder about new treatments for Alzheimer's disease? Have you thought about training a service dog? Are you concerned that a loved one in a nursing home is being abused? Would you like to learn more about music or horticultural therapy for older people?

Information can be a powerful weapon in the fight against disease, disabilities or poverty. And that's one of the reasons the U.S. National Institute on Aging is now offering its "Resource Directory for Older People." It's a virtual "Yellow Pages," listing hundreds of non-profit organizations and government agencies that focus on health care, legal and financial issues, long-term care, volunteerism, even travel opportunities geared to seniors.

A cooperative effort between the NIA and the federal Administration on Aging, the 111-page directory is designed to help not only consumers, but also health and legal professionals, and social-service providers, among others.

Some of the organizations listed, like the Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center or the Eldercare Locator, directly serve older people and their families. Other groups include the National Association of Activity Professionals -- adult day care workers.

There are even listings for agencies that address the specific health needs of Native Americans, native Hawaiians, native Alaskans, Hispanics, African-Americans and Asian-Americans.

Along with addresses and phone numbers, the organizational listings also include e-mail and Web site addresses, plus a brief description of each group's function.

"This is a wonderful resource book specifically focused on the needs of older people," says Dr. Stanley L. Slater, NIA's deputy associate director for geriatrics. "Children with older parents, as well as older persons themselves, would have an interest in it. We're all so mobile, we need helpers who are close by when we're far away. If parents are distant from their children, the children have a way of accessing resources."

Many of the organizations in the directory deal with serious issues, such as Alzheimer's disease, AIDS, and abuse and neglect of the elderly. Others focus on unique opportunities available only to seniors. Elderhostel, for instance, is an educational travel group for those 55 and older. The Elder Craftsmen Program promotes the skills and creativity of older people, with craft training programs, community service, and artist-in-residence opportunities.

The Corporation for National Service includes the National Senior Services Corps, the Foster Grandparent Program, and the Senior Companion Program, while Green Thumb Inc., helps older, low-income workers train for work, launch new businesses and market their handmade goods. There's even information to help seniors become computer literate through SeniorNet or Generations Online.

"There's a great need for the resources listed in the directory," Slater says. "It's a real aid to people to have it available."

What to Do: The "Resource Directory for Older People" can be accessed at the Web sites of the National Institute on Aging and the Administration on Aging. A printed copy is available for free by calling 1-800-222-2225, or 1-800-222-4225 for those with hearing problems. If you want two to 50 copies, there's a $5 charge per copy to cover printing, shipping and handling. For 51 copies or more, the fee is $3 per copy.

SOURCES: Interview with Stanley Slater, M.D., deputy associate director for geriatrics, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md.; "Resource Directory for Older People"
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