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   from the issue of November 10, 2005

New group helps those caring for elderly parents


Abandoned by an abusive second husband and living on a third of her normal income, Trudy Rhoads' mother wandered into the Arizona desert and was lost for several hours without water.

MOTHER TO DAUGHTER - Trudy Rhoads and her sister are providing support for their mother. Just one day after moving from...
 MOTHER TO DAUGHTER - Trudy Rhoads and her sister are providing support for their mother. Just one day after moving from Arizona to Lincoln, Rhoads' mother ran away, forcing the sisters to put their mom in the Lincoln Regional Center. Rhoads said a new support group, Adult Children with Aging Parents, sponsored by the Employee Assistance Program at UNL, is helping her as she seeks long-term care for her mother. Photo by Troy Fedderson/University Communications.

Rhoads' mother sought solace with her daughters in Nebraska. However, one day after moving to Lincoln, Rhoads' mother became frustrated over an unreturned phone call and ran away. Rhoads, an accounting clerk with Student Accounts, and her sister involved police in the search and had their mother placed in the Lincoln Regional Center. Rhoads still questions if that was the right decision.

"One of the questions I had was, 'Will she ever get out?'" Rhoads said.

The sisters continue to search for long-term assistance for their mother, who has been transferred to the Lincoln Regional Center and now Bryan Memorial Senior Health Unit.

"I don't care for her in my home on a daily basis, but I have missed a lot of work for hearings," said Rhoads, who has testified about her mother's health and has dealt with private and county attorneys. "I still try to visit as often as I can."

And, while chocolate sustains Rhoads through stressful times, she has also found help in a new support group. Organized this fall by the Employee Assistance Program at UNL the group - Adult Children with Aging Parents - offers support for faculty and staff who deal with caring for elderly parents.

"We are getting more and more of this," said Nancy Myers, director of organizational development with Human Resources. "Employees can feel isolated as they care for their children and elderly parents while working at the same time."

A 1997 MetLife study of employer costs for working caregivers found that lost productivity in the workplace due to employee eldercare issues is estimated to cost businesses between $11.4 and $29 billion a year.

"Providing a support group helps employees reduce stress, exchange information and seek help for what can be a very anguishing time," Myers said.

The support group has had two meetings, first on Sept. 2 then Oct. 27. The meetings - held once a month, from noon to 1 p.m. in the Nebraska Union - are led by Floyd Sylvester, counselor with the Employee Assistance Program. The basic agenda features a speaker for the first 30 minutes, followed by a 30-minute discussion time.

"We've only had two meetings, but the group has already been a great source for information for me," Rhoads said. "It definitely helps to have someone to talk to who has been through this."

The support group for Adult Children with Aging Parents meets again on Nov. 17.

In addition to this support group for UNL employees caring for elderly parents, the Employee Assistance Program offers counseling for faculty and staff and their immediate family members, mediation for workplace conflict, and an emergency loan fund to aid in a productive work environment.

The Employee Assistance Program is located at the Lewis-Syford House at 700 N. 16th St. For more information on programs or the support group, call 472-3107 or go online to

This is the second in a series of six stories written by UNL students enrolled in Advertising 451 - Advertising and Public Relations Techniques, taught by Phyllis Larsen. Courtney Canaday is a junior advertising student from Kansas City.



New group helps those caring for elderly parents
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UNL Police captain extends military service