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Logan County seniors take full advantage of Senior Health Fair at the Oasis

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[July 15, 2019]  On Tuesday morning a large number of senior citizen residents of Logan County visited the Oasis Senior Center in Lincoln, taking advantage of all the offerings at the Senior Health Fair hosted and sponsored by Illinois Senator Bill Brady and Representative Tim Butler.

This year, the fair was bigger and more spread out, utilizing both the community room and the large dining room at the Oasis. Director Nancy Cunningham was excited by the turnout.

She noted that last year was her first time organizing the fair, and right away she noted that to have all the vendor and information tables in one room caused some traffic flow issues. She decided to expand the layout into both room so guests could travel around both rooms more comfortably. In addition there were several new vendors o hand this year, making it all the better.

The concept of the Senior Fair is to provide local senior citizens with a one-stop-shop opportunity to talk to a number of healthcare providers and professionals one-on-one without an appointment and at no cost.

This year the first room was also set up with the usual tables and chairs for socializing. Guests enjoyed really gooey donuts with fresh coffee and could also grab a fresh banana or apple to enjoy.

Around that first room the vendors set up included several from Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital. The physical therapy department was on hand do the sit stand test that tells seniors if they are maintaining a well-balanced body. The goal was to cross the arms across the chest then stand up and sit down as quickly as possible five times, without losing balance. The technician timed the senior and at the end talked with them about their scores. Typically in the age range between 60 and 69 a person should be able to do the five sit-stands in 11.4 seconds. The time to complete increases with age so those who are in the 80 to 89-year old range are doing well if they can perform all five motions within 14.8 seconds.

According to a document given to the seniors, those who are unable to complete the exercise within a 15 second time frame are more apt to be those who will suffer from falls in the future. The physical therapy department at ALMH can assist seniors with increasing their mobility and balance when they are at risk.

Also on hand was the ALMH Senior Life Solutions. This is a brand new program at ALMH and the representative on hand said that it is going very well and has been very well received by the senior population. The program works mostly with helping seniors cope with life changing events that can lead to depression and otherwise poor mental health. Free depression screenings were available at the table.

ALMH Dietician Jennifer Dipasquale was on hand to speak with visitors about maintaining healthy eating habits as a diabetic. Diabetes is a big issue for many older Americans, but can be managed through proper medication, diet and exercise.

At another table, bone density tests were being offered again by ALMH. As we age our bones grow thinner and weaker. Understanding the bone density helps seniors to know what their risks are for osteoporosis as well as bone breaks. There are also solutions to help increase failing bone density that can help as we age.

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The ALMH Auxiliary spends a lot of its time educating and assisting seniors with Life Line Medic alert devices. Jennifer Heidbreder was on hand to talk with guests about the medic alert pendants, explaining how they work and why they are so important to seniors in helping them maintain their independence as they age.

Angie Whiteman was on hand to speak to guests about the ALMH Market held at the Logan County Fairgrounds during the summer months, and a representative was on hand to discuss the reason and advantages to establishing advance directives.

In the large dining room at the Oasis a number of representatives on hand were there to talk about the various insurance programs they offer.

The Illinois Treasurer’s Office was on hand doing lost asset searches. Cunningham was very excited about this, especially when she learned that thanks to the senior health fair, one senior found out that he/she had $200 that had gone unclaimed for a number of years. The representative on hand assisted the senior in doing the proper application to get the money. For Cunningham that one event was well worth all the effort put into the senior health fair.

Other representatives on hand included Dr. Paul Boatman speaking to guests about Alzheimer’s Disease, representatives from a number of the local assisted living facilities, representatives from in-home help services and a representative from the Illinois Department on Aging.

Dan Benedict of the Logan County Veterans Assistance Commission was on hand to speak with veterans about veteran assistance programs and Lincoln Police Department Assistant Chief Matt Vlahovich was on hand to visit with guests on a variety of topics while collecting unused prescription medications.

A fun stop at the health fair was the table of the Christian Village where the lesson of the day was laughter. With big smiles on their faces the representatives on hand explained the concept with a handout. On the page there are three bullets – the physical health benefits of laughter, the mental health benefits of laughter and the social benefits of laughter.

Under the first bullet there were some very interesting and very good benefits. Laughter boosts the immunity, lowers stress hormones, decreases pain, relaxes muscles, and prevents heart disease. That alone should be a good reason to laugh at someone even if it is yourself at least a few times a day!

Of course, the event on Tuesday was being hosted by Brady and Butler and both were on hand to visit with guests. The Senator and Representative each worked both rooms, visiting with guests and enjoying the time they had, though somewhat brief with the senior citizens of Logan County.

The health fair overall was a great success with a large number of guests. The fair is still a work in progress that grew this year, and will hopefully grow again in the years ahead. Most importantly, as noted by Cunningham, the seniors were very interested in everything offered. Cunningham noted that sometimes at events such as this you see people going about picking up the freebies and moving on. At this event, seniors were talking with representatives, asking questions and getting answers, and taking advantage of the free services. Cunningham was very excited by all this and looks forward to offering the health fair for years to come.

[Nila Smith]

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