By Elizabeth Varville, Correspondent
On Thursday, March 3, Area Agency on Aging, Baylor Scott & White Health, and Central Texas Regional Advisory Council sponsored the first Senior Fall Prevention & Senior Health Fair at the Central Texas Council of Governments in Belton. The free event offered surrounding area senior citizens wellness assessments, exercise and movement demonstrations, fall prevention awareness, and resources specifically targeted for senior citizens.
“We are very excited to have this event. We are very pleased with the attendance today. We do expect to turn this into an annual event. It has been so well-received by the community and by our exhibitors. We just know that is going to be an important event for years to come. We want to raise awareness of the dire situation that we have in our country and the world in the amount of senior citizens that fall. Falling is the top reason that senior citizens are seen in the emergency room and are hospitalized and then often die from the complications associated with the fall. We want to present information today that it is a problem and there are measures you can take to make your house safer. We want to show the elderly how they can live longer and safer in their own environment,” said event coordinator Susan Burchfield.
Many exhibitors were available for attendees to receive information on multiple services that are available in the surrounding areas for senior citizens. Among the exhibitors, R.S.V.P. which promotes volunteering and staying active in your community and the Poison center helped to explain medicines and what they can interact with that can eventually cause problems. The Trauma Center from Baylor Scott & White displayed methods about what you can put into place for a safer home. The RU Ok? Program sponsored by the Belton Police Department, explained their program and how they offer morning phone calls to help ensure safety among the elderly community. Area Agency on Aging provides education classes for senior citizens and their families on ways to achieve self-management of their diabetes, chronic diseases and a safer home.
The keynote speaker featured Physiatrist Paul Ace Friedman, MD. of Baylor Scott & White Health and Assistant Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Texas A&M Health Science Center. His presentation focused on “Fall Prevention for Older Persons: A Rehab Doc’s Perspective.” The second half of the health fair included four breakout sessions highlighting specific common areas that senior citizens encounter in their everyday life. Aval NaRee Green, MC, CMD, Division Director for Geriatric Medicine at Baylor Scott & White Health spoke on “Don’t Fall for It!”: Fall Prevention for the Mature Adult. Larry Montgomery, DC of Montgomery Chiropractor addressed “The Spine, Balance and Fall Prevention.” Ninfa Pena-Purcell, PhD, Health specialist and associate professor with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Services explained the concepts of basic physical activity guidelines for the senior adults through the “Go-4-Thirty!” program. Sofia Gomez, BA, Coordinator for Scott & White Health Plan Quality Improvement emphasized the importance of “Healthy Bones.”
“This event is very beneficial to educate senior citizens in regards to the conditions that they are most at risk for and also to make them award of the services that are available to them. I am here today to promote bone density test. Osteoporosis is such a problem among the elderly, specifically woman over the age of 65. I ensure they have the proper information so they are able to get the appropriate care they need and making sure their providers are giving them the proper care that they deserve. Their primary care provider is responsible for contacting the radiation department which enables the test to be done. Since this is considered prevention; most of these tests are done free of charge,” said Sofia Gomez, BA of Baylor Scott & White Health Plan Quality Improvement Coordinator for osteoporosis management for woman.