Seniors spring into wellness


April 19th, 2011

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Omaha, NE – University of Nebraska Medical Center students hosted their first health fair aimed at older adults on Sunday. Seniors, 50 and older, were invited to attend the free “Spring into Wellness Health Fair” at UNMC’s Home Instead Center for Successful Aging. Station by station, a total of 70 seniors, including Eleanor Gage and her husband, were screened for a variety of health issues.

“I did the memory test,” Gage said, “which is very challenging. Everybody should try to do it… and he tells me I really don’t have Alzheimer’s.”

UNMC Students offered free services to seniors including screenings for blood pressure problems. (Photo by Angel Martin)

Gage is from Ralston and also participates in UNMC’s EngAge program at the newly opened center. Gage said she’s taking a Tai Chi class because it’s beneficial to her health.

“It’s perfect for balance,” she said. “It’s just good all around. It helps you going up and down steps, walking on ice … and strengthening the muscles in your legs.”

The health fair was conducted by UNMC students studying different areas in medicine. The fair was planned by the students as an exercise for them to hone their skills. Under the guidance of UNMC staff, about 25 students offered free services to seniors including screenings for blood pressure problems and diseases like Osteoporosis and Alzheimers. Tests of blood sugar levels, vision, hearing, and gait balance checks to measure the risks of falling were also conducted. Dr. Stephen Bonasera is an Assistant Professor at UNMC, and he helped conduct the cognitive screening test.

Dr. Stephen Bonasera, an Assistant Professor at UNMC, helps a senior at the "Spring into Wellness Health Fair." (Photo by Angel Martin)

“I think a major fear that people have when they get older,” he said, [are] “very subtle memory changes that occur with normal aging that have nothing to do with Alzheimer’s. I think you put people’s minds at ease if you can tell them … that you have this problem but it’s not Alzheimer’s disease.” “We can take some of that fear away.”

Seniors were encouraged to get a free massage at UNMC’s Home Instead Center for Successful Aging. (Photo by Angel Martin)

Seniors were also encouraged to exercise on one of the three Wii Fit games available, get a massage, have questions answered about medicine and collect information on health and wellbeing. The Home Instead Center opened last year. It’s meant to be a new model of healthcare for seniors. And Sunday’s health fair was designed to help them identify health problems early and to save costs and lives in the long term.

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