Senior health the focus of Southwick Council on Aging fair

The SOuthwick Council on Aging health fair May 9 offered resources to area senior citizens. (Greg Fitzpatrick photo)

SOUTHWICK – The Southwick Council on Aging hosted a health fair at the Senior Center on Thursday.

A free event open to the public, the health fair featured more than 30 vendors and was located throughout the dining area and activities room.

Council on Aging Director Cindy Sullivan has organized this event in the past and once again saw it as a benefit for the community, especially senior citizens.

“There’s a variety of people,” said Sullivan. “It’s really resources for them (the public). Information is power.”

The variety of vendors included large organizations such as AARP, the American Red Cross, and the Alzheimer’s Association. There were also smaller organizations, including Elder Companion Services of Agawam LLC.

Deborah Sullivan, the Founder of Elder Companion Services of Agawam LLC, provides in-home care services as well as at the facilities that the senior citizens reside at. Sullivan’s business provides conversation and companionship, errands, light meal preps, light housekeeping, banking assistance, and among others.

“Whatever I can do to help maintain their independence and quality of life is my goal,” said Deborah Sullivan.

Representatives of the Alzheimer’s Association were hoping to spread education and awareness about.

“A lot of people are quite afraid of this disease because this is the age (elderly) where it affects someone the most,” said Heather Jagodowski, the programs coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Association.

Jagodowski said that forgetting things on a daily basis, where a senior citizen’s cell phone may be, for example, is normal, but it can quickly get worse and that’s where the awareness comes in.

“If you don’t remember how to use the cell phone, that’s where it gets unhealthy,” said Jagodowski.

The Alzheimer’s Association offers workshops and free programs for people interested and also has a 24/7 helpline in order to give senior citizens the chance to talk to someone about their concerns or questions. The number for the helpline is 800-272-3900.

The Mercy Life PACE Program was another service  at the health fair on Thursday. Featuring all inclusive care, the PACE program is designed to allow seniors to continue living at home and avoid having to move into a nursing home, while still receiving great support. The support from the PACE program includes occupational therapy, physical therapy, social workers, dieticians, primary care, nurse practitioners and registered nurses.

Debbie Phelon, an employee representing Mercy Life at the health fair, said the PACE program can help take a lot of the burden off of the caregiver and focus on the patient.

“Whatever it is they need is what we do,” said Phelon.

Jim Clifford of the Mercy Adult Day Health program talked about the multiple services that the program offers, including nursing care, nutrition, and also great activities like daily exercise and arts and crafts. Clifford also saw the health fair as a great way for the adult day health program to receive more exposure.

“This is a great opportunity to get our name out,” said Clifford.

It wasn’t just the organizations at the health fair that benefitted from the event on Thursday as the public walked by the vendors and saw what they had to offer.

“There’s a lot of people and a lot of places to assist us,” said Susan Miller.

Looking for a hearing test, Miller added that she was able to get set up with a free hearing test at the health fair.

Nancy Bailey, a Navy veteran, is always in contact with Veterans Affairs, and was happy to see some of the services at the health fair that may be outsourced for her.

“It’s nice seeing all of these things,” said Bailey. “I like knowing all of the benefits.”

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