April 24, 2014 12:03PM
By Jeff Gebeau
SOUTHINGTON — The Southington Senior Fair was held at Lincoln College of New England Friday. Organizer Nancy Frede said attendance at the event was “staggered,” with people trickling in throughout the day.
The college had a heavy presence at the fair. Representatives from the school were present to administer blood pressure checks and oral screenings.
Dental student Grace Salerno said that oral health is tied to physical health, especially as people age. “If you stay true to your teeth, they won’t be false to you,” she said.
Alana Davis, co-president of the school’s Health and Nutrition Club, stressed the importance of portion sizes and finding nutritious substitutes for unhealthy foods.
She said these issues are important for seniors because many have conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes that can be exacerbated by poor nutritional choices.
Many elderly people are not aware that they can buy healthy meals on a budget, especially if they are Social Security recipients, added co-president Carrie Miles.
Kailee Conrad, a dietitian at the Southington ShopRite further detailed the importance of making smart dietary decisions in a seminar called “Healthy Eating on a Budget.”
She said seniors need to commit to “sticking to their shopping budget and sticking to a healthy diet.”
Frede said several of the presentations were well-attended, but she had hoped for higher turnout for others.
One of the seminars that did draw a good size crowd was her own talk about how people over 50 can find jobs. Frede said that even though people in this age group are traditionally anticipating retirement, it is a critical topic because many of them have lost jobs in the weak economy.
Frede said she can identify with the challenge of job hunting later in life. “I know what it’s like to look for a job when you’re over 50,” she said.
Attendee Mary Ann Sobelski thanked Frede profusely for infusing her with “confidence.”
She said Frede taught her that “our personalities help us find jobs.”
While some of the presenters and exhibitors instructed older people on how to take care of themselves, others advertised care-providing services.
Frede said the fair featured some new care service exhibitors this year, such as European home healthcare businesses that employ multilingual caregivers.
Many local residents are of Eastern European descent and are more comfortable with someone who speaks their language, she explained.
Kasia Kordek, marketing director of Euro-American Connections & Homecare, said Eastern European caregivers provide a “different culture of care.”
Fewer nursing homes exist in that part of the world because caring for aging relatives is a cultural norm, and children raised these societies have more experience providing this brand of caregiving, she said.
Even though the fair did not have as many visitors as she had hoped, Frede said she was pleased that people who did come out came away with valuable new knowledge and resources.
She said she was also grateful for canned goods that were collected at the door which she plans to donate to local food pantries.