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Local senior citizens take advantage of the Senior Health Fair at the Oasis on Wednesday morning

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[July 28, 2017]  On Wednesday morning, Illinois Senator Bill Brady and State Representative Tim Butler sponsored the annual Senior Health Fair at the Oasis Senior Center in Lincoln.

Senator Brady was on hand only briefly saying that he was expected in Springfield. Representative Butler was also working in Springfield on Wednesday and unable to spend the morning with their guests due to ongoing state budget matters. Brady provided a table of information and had staff on hand to talk with seniors.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan had a staff member on hand to discuss senior issues with guests with emphasis on raising awareness of fraudulent practices often perpetrated on seniors, as well as how to protect oneself against identity theft.

The event was very well attended by local seniors who took advantage of the day to find out more about health providers and long-term care services offered locally. There were also opportunities to speak with representatives from senior focused organizations such as AARP and Area Agency on Aging for Lincoln Land.

Area Agency on Aging works with the Oasis Senior Center on many occasions offering Lunch and Learn opportunities for seniors. The events raise awareness of senior issues such as help and support for grandparents raising grandchildren, information about identity theft and fraud, and many other topics including understanding medications and managing medication schedules.

A representative with Memorial Stroke Center was handing out refrigerator magnets pointing out the four indicators of stroke. Called F.A.S.T. the four indicators Face, Arms, Speech, and Time are easy to remember. Is the face drooping, are the arms weak, is speech slurred, and finally, don’t waste time, call 911 and get help FAST.

The Stroke Center was also handing out a personal risk score card to help folks visualize the issues that put them at higher risk for stroke. In the high risk category: if blood pressure normally exceeds 140/90, if total cholesterol is greater than 240, if one is diabetic, has an irregular heartbeat, and overweight, there is a danger of stoke in the future. Lack of exercise, smoking, and family history play a large part in the risk as well.

Other medical services on hand included Springfield Clinic and Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital. Springfield Clinic offered information about diabetes.

Staff from ALMH Physical Therapy Department were on hand offering quick easy testing to determine balance and flexibility as well as bone density. All these are especially important for seniors. Many seniors suffer broken bones from falls, which ultimately may come from the inability to maintain balance or a stiffness in the joints that leads to tripping.

The balance test included sitting with the feet forward, arms crossed left hand to right shoulder and right hand to left shoulder, and then standing and sitting five times. The technician timed the exercise and watched the person as they rose and sat. In the end, she explained that there is a normal range, for example a person age 60 to 65 in the normal range should be able to complete the exercise in under 11.4 seconds.

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The bone density test was also very simple. The “patient” was instructed to remove a shoe and place a foot on a special white box. The box was then able to record the bone density and the technician read the density from a handheld digital pad.

While some may not want to talk about it, end of life services are also important to seniors. Memorial Home Services and Safe Haven Hospice of Lincoln were on hand to discuss delicate topics such as hospice care. The Christian Village offered information about nursing home care, their assisted living programsm Grace Point Rehab to Home services.

Also on hand was Thrivent Financial, Veterans Affairs, and the Logan County Department of Public Health.

The LCDPH offered information about managing medications and provided free disposal of unused prescriptions.

The group had also included information about the department’s ongoing health programs, such as nursing services, Home Care, and much more. In addition, a story board was on display featuring the efforts of the Heroin Task Force, and the Opioid epidemic in Logan County.

One give away offered by the health department was the “Book of Life.” The 16 page booklet offered important information such as food safety guidelines for power outages, how to prepare a home emergency preparedness kit, as well as a similar kit for travel, and what to do and how to do it when a boil order is issued. There were pages for booklet holders to fill out regarding medications and doctors and also advance directives for end of life scenarios. The health department representative explained that utilizing the book could help put a lot of important information at ones fingertips in the event of an emergency. She explained, in light of recent storms, having something one can grab quickly on the way out the door, is a smart choice, especially during various disasters.

Illinois Tourism/Illinois Department of Natural Resources had a table filled with magazines and brochures about Illinois attractions and places to get away without getting all that far from home.

Throughout the morning, visitors came and went, taking in the information provided and talking with the various representatives on hand. They also were able to sit and enjoy a morning snack and just visit with friends for a while.

In all, the day was a great success with many people learning about programs and offerings for seniors in Logan County, all aimed at improving their overall health and improving their quality of life in their golden years.

[Nila Smith]

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