Senior Expo 2009 offers public useful health tips and information

Published 10:54 pm Friday, May 29, 2009

Lifestyles & Features Editor

More than 400 area senior citizens gathered on the campus of Beaufort County Community College on Thursday for Senior Expo 2009.
The event featured almost 50 different vendors and agencies.
“We do this to get information into the hands of the elderly and human services personnel, so they’ll know what resources are available,” said Expo chairperson Joann Windley of the Beaufort County Department of Social Services.
Up until this year, the Expo was known by another name: Elder Fair.
“We changed it to hopefully draw attention to it for the younger seniors, those in the 55-to-60 age range,” Windley said. “We’ve also wanted to include more of the human services personnel, anyone who works in home health care and the medical field.”
Senior Expo has grown by leaps and bounds, according to Larrine Mackey, chairperson of the Human Services Coalition, which sponsors the event.
“I started with this in 1995, and this year we had more sponsors than we’ve ever had,” she said. “The response has been overwhelming. Every time we sponsor this we have good feedback, and every year it gets better and better.”
Various health care professionals — including chiropractors, hearing aid specialists and representatives of the Beaufort Regional Health System — were on hand to dispense medical advice and information.
No one went home empty-handed, either: Vendors gave away token souvenirs, including potted geraniums, fly swatters, cardboard fans, tote bags and even small oak trees ready for planting.
Carolyne Everett of the Grace Martin Harwell Senior Center in Washington is a member of the Expo planning committee, and on Thursday she was among the exhibitors.
“We want to get as much information to seniors as we can about all the services and programs available for them,” Everett said. “We have our Wii games here, which are video games for fitness. They have been a very hot item in senior centers, and they’re recommended by the North Carolina Division of Aging.”
The center’s other programs include a quilting class, bingo, aerobics and an exercising with arthritis class certified by the National Arthritis Foundation, Everett said.
“We also have an evidence-based program called A Matter of Balance to help prevent seniors from falling,” she added. “Falling is one of the main reasons seniors have to go into long-term care.”
Joan Munch of Washington was attending her second senior event this year.
“This is reinforcing a lot of information,” she said. “We are going on a trip this summer, and we were interested in those canes you can open up into a chair and sit down. But we found out they’re not too safe. That’s good information to know, because we were thinking about purchasing one.”