March-April 2012 | Features in Bethesda Health

The Parent Trap

Meet members of the sandwich generation: raising children, dealing with elderly parents-and sometimes feeling as if they've bitten off more than they can chew

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Where to Get Help

Montgomery County Area Agency on Aging

The good news is that it offers many services for people over 60. The bad news is that there are long waiting lists for some of those services.

The agency does everything from delivering groceries and providing legal services to bringing in human and canine visitors to homebound individuals. Some services charge a fee, but most are free. Financial assistance is available for low-income individuals who need medical supplies or adult day care.

The agency also is a clearinghouse for information. “We’re helping people understand what’s available to them, what they might be eligible for. If they have Alzheimer’s, what kind of help is there,” says Odile Saddi, the agency’s director. “We guide the family about the price trend—this one is small, this one is large. In this one they speak Spanish; this one, Chinese. We help them with forms.”

The agency sets up Meals On Wheels for people who can no longer fend for themselves. And there are five senior centers where older people can participate in activities and enjoy a meal together, with transportation provided. There is no charge, but the centers accept donations.

The agency also provides financial assistance for respite care. If a caretaker wants to attend a niece’s wedding, for example, the agency can send a substitute.

For more information, go to

The Grass Roots Organization for the Well-being of Seniors (GROWS)

Since 1989, this consortium of for-profit companies has connected seniors and their adult children with companies that offer everything from housing and visiting nurses to home security systems and hearing aids. Charges vary. For information:

Montgomery County Seniors’ Resource Guide

This extensive guide produced by Beacon Newspapers includes information about services that cater to specific groups, the Asian, Russian and Spanish communities among them. It also offers information about services ranging from adult day care to respite care to energy assistance. The guide can be found online at Or it can be purchased for $3 by calling 301-949-9766.

Caring Transitions

These franchise companies manage everything from packing boxes to finding a real estate agent for moving the elderly. For the Silver Spring franchise, call 301-593-5433, or go to

Caring From a Distance

This nonprofit organization operates a website that links caregivers with services for the elderly in the Washington, D.C., area and elsewhere. Go to

Family Caregiver Alliance

The nonprofit organization supplies information and resources for those who provide long-term care for a family member or friend at home. For information:

ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center

This website provides caregivers with tips and helps those needing a break to make connections across the country. Go to


Though best known for its advocacy and discounts on insurance and travel, the organization also offers information on its website for caregivers. Go to

Marilyn Werber Serafini of Kensington works for Kaiser Health News, which co-produced this story. Jessica Marcy contributed to this story. To comment, email