BERLIN - About 30 vendors attended a Health and Wellness Fair at the Berlin Senior Centerr last week to provide information to seniors.
“Helping my constituents and providing them with the resources they need is one of the most gratifying parts of my job, and the Health and Wellness Fair is a great way to accomplish that,” said House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, who hosted Wednesday’s event along with the senior center. “This year’s event was very successful. We had more vendors than in previous years and attendees told me they found the information very useful. It’s also always great working with Tina Doyle, who is a true champion for seniors in Berlin, and this event would not have been possible without her partnership.”
“A lot of the seniors said it was very informative,” said Doyle, director of the senior center, at 33 Colonial Drive. “We’ve done it in the past and it was a success, so why not do it again,”
Theresa Strong, program manager of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, enjoyed the day because it helped spread the word about her organization.
“They’re always good just to get the word out, because a lot of time people aren’t aware of what programs are out there that might be able to help them,” said Strong.
Through her organization, Berlin has the READS program, in which seniors work with elementary school students on reading skills. There also is a medical transportation program, in which seniors give rides to other seniors to medical appointments.
“It’s important for them to remain active,” said Strong.
“It was nice to meet the other vendors, we shared some information with each other,” said Sharon Treat, of the Jefferson House, a rehabilitation center in Newington run by Hartford Hospital.
At other fairs, she said, she was isolated in her own room, unlike the circular flow of Wednesday’s gathering.
“It’s not only for the seniors, it’s good networking,” said Doyle.
At the fair to represent the Jefferson House’s outpatient physical, occupational and speech therapy services, Treat provided balance screenings.
The number of times participants could sit in a chair and stand up was measured, as was walking speed, to calculate the amount of risk. If participants were under a certain number, compared to the norms for people their age, they were at a greater risk of falling, Treat said.
“You know what’s funny, I didn’t get any men,” said Treat.
Also among the vendors was LiveWell, an organization helping people with dementia.
Representatives from it were promoting their efforts as the state lead for a Dementia Friends grassroots movement that was started by the Alzheimer’s Society in the United Kingdom over a decade ago.
“The aim with this movement is to reduce stigma and isolation in this population,” said Katy Bannister, director of community development for LiveWell.
“The goal is, ‘How do I stay home? How do I get supported in my community,’ ” as opposed to going to a nursing home or an overwhelming clinical approach, said Shazia Chaudry, director of navigation services.
To do that, her organization will host informal information sessions, as part of the Dementia Friends movement, so participants can help others with the disease in their community, and go on to lead more information sessions.
“The idea is people will learn how to think, act, talk differently about dementia,” said Bannister. “It really is a grassroots movement.”
Not expecting to attend the fair, as she was simply dropping something off at the Senior Center for something unrelated, was Gayle Sutterlin.
“There’s people that are in my building, that probably could have benefited from it,” Sutterlin, a resident of the 55-and-over Sage Pond Place, said.
She added she picked up more resources from the event than from the doctor when she was diagnosed with high blood pressure and cholesterol.
“They just give you a piece of paper and say, ‘Well, you know, you got to be more careful with your diet,’ ” Sutterlin said. “A little bit more information would be nice. So I try to collect whatever I can.”
Both Doyle and a member of Aresimowicz’ office said they will be looking to hold the event again.
“I don’t need any of this stuff at this point, myself, but as you age out, you need all this stuff and you should know about it ahead of time,” Sutterlin said, adding that advice from attorneys on elder financial planning is beneficial.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.