Annual event continues to get bigger, more diverse
The 7th annual Multicultural Senior Health Fair was held at the Warner Park Community Recreation Center on May 11. Local seniors could enjoy community agencies providing informational booths, free health screenings, and educational presentations.
“It's going well. It seems to grow a little bit each year,” says Jim Krueger, executive director of the North/Eastside Senior Coalition. “This year we've really made a push to work with the Hmong community to get some Hmong seniors here. Through efforts of our intern we were able to make a solid connection this year with that population.”
Walking around the Warner Park facilitiy you could see incredible diversity at the event. “I suspect we'll have more the 200-plus people come through the health fair to day by the time all is said and done,” Krueger said.
The North/Eastside Senior Coalition is a network of individuals and groups interested in the concerns and issues of people age 55 years and older. Some of the services and programs they provide are: case management, information sessions, senior luncheons, recreational programing, group outings, intergenerational activities, a volunteer-based home chore program, a monthly newsletter, and a community concert series.
“The Multicultural Senior Health Fair seems to grow every year in the diversity of the event,” Krueger says. “We are the only senior center in Dane County that has programs specifically for Latino and African American seniors. So that was part of what helped this Multicultural Health Fair evolve — we wanted those program participants to be a part of this from the very beginning.”
There were 15 different screenings that were offered at the event and they were not just your typical health care screenings. “We have bone density, swallow testing, eye issues... some things that if you would go to a doctor that it probably wouldn't be covered so you [would] have to pay,” Krueger says. “Today, it's free. We really try to bring in more than the standard screens that people can easily access by going to the doctor.”
The Multicultural Health Fair also featured free health screenings and informational booths for adverse drug events, bladder health questionnaire, blood glucose, blood pressure, eye pressure, foodshare eligibility assessment, gait device sizing, hearing tests, Medicare savings plans, oral health, spinal screening, and more.
Krueger says that 80 percent of the seniors that they work with at the North/Eastside Senior Coalition are low-income, so a Health Fair is that much more of an important event.
There were half-hour presentations on “Increasing the Value of Your Home Through Aging in Place” by TZ of Madison, Inc. and “Visions and Falls” by the Wisconsin Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired. There were door prizes, entertainment, and healthy snacks. A healthy lunch was served and seniors could play healthy bingo
The North/Eastside Senior Coalition is celebrating 35 years of service while earning the reputation as one of Dane County’s premier senior centers. They work hard to maintain state accreditation by the Wisconsin Association of Senior Centers and national accreditation by the National Institute of Senior Centers.
“The charge of our agency is to help keep seniors active, influential, and independent in the community so that they can live in their homes as long as possible,” Krueger says. “They enjoy being in their home more than they enjoy being in a nursing home.”
The Health Fair had six or seven Spanish interpreters and two or three Hmong interpreters available at the event. “We try to be very sensitive to everybody's needs,” Krueger says. “We try to remove all of the barriers for people.
“One of the nice things about today is that we specifically put out a request that people could bring in their own interpreter,” he adds. “That would be beneficial because not only will they be able to get some questions answered, but here's a resource in the community that they can turn to. For Latino seniors, they often are in a situation where they don't have many choices in where they can go for health care services.”
Multicultural Health Fairs are key in attacking the tremendous racial disparities that we see in health care.
“Over half of the seniors who were identified in a recent survey that we saw had experienced a fall in their homes,” Krueger says. “Some of that is related to medications, some of that is related to health issues — if they aren't feeling healthy that can affect their balance ... or if they're not eating healthy. There certainly is a [racial] disparity ... we see it big time. Eighty percent of the seniors we work with we're continually trying to connect them with resources in the city so that they can have their health care needs addressed.”
The Multicultural Senior Health Fair has gotten more and more elaborate and diverse over the years. It has had to as the older population continues to keep growing.
“We want to keep growing. Right now, we're seeing a senior population that continues to grow,” Krueger says. “We're seeing a lot more seniors across the board — whether [they] be Latino, African American, or Caucasian — who are having financial issues. So something like this is even more beneficial, because it gives them the opportunity to at least get some things checked out on an annual basis.
“It also gives us an opportunity to connect with people,” Krueger adds. “We have a table in there for the North/Eastside Senior Coalition where our case manager are staffing so if someone needs some help, we can get them connected with services.
“The fear is that as the government looks to continue cutting programs that that growing senior population might not have protection,” he continues. “That's why events like the Multicultural Health Fair are so important.”
For more information about the North/Eastside Senior Coalition and all it does, visit www.nescoinc.org