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South Valley Journal

Senior fair shows how to keep that body young

Jul 08, 2019 03:26PM ● By Amber Allen

By Amber Allen | [email protected]

Organized by the Salt Lake County Aging & Adult Services Department, the National Senior Health & Fitness fair brought attention to how seniors and those who care for them can enjoy a better quality of life with health and fitness. 

Held in May at the Viridian Event Center in West Jordan, the fair offered a wealth of information ranging from how to eat better to the importance of socializing and ways to keep moving. 

The county has been organizing the National Senior Health & Fitness fair for five years. On a national level, the event has been going on for 26 years. While all the information shared at the event was highly helpful for all, a major takeaway was that healthcare is expensive, and people can do a lot for themselves to prevent the need for expensive medical procedures. 

During the event, attendees listened to speakers like Ann Thackeray, a physical therapist and researcher who is an expert on how being physically active helps seniors remain independent longer. She encouraged older Utahns to consider what they value. For instance, do they want to be able to hold their grandchildren but are unable to because of pain or weakness? Often, seniors can offset medical conditions as well as deterioration in the body caused by aging with diet and exercise.    

At the fair, Humana, Valley Behavioral Health and Friends for Sight provided free screenings. Attendees could also get their blood pressure, glucose levels and blood checked. Organizers hosted games and entertainment, offering a fun way to spend the afternoon. The National Senior Health & Fitness fair offers more than just free screenings. Those who attended received information about the services and programs that are available from the county libraries. 

To make the event a social one, food trucks were on-site, and those who were 60 years old or older were eligible for a food truck voucher. This year, event organizers invited food trucks like the Hungry Hawaiian, the Lost Bread and El Nene Sammy, and people ate on the center’s outdoor patio.   

One purpose of the fair was to announce upcoming workshops. For instance, one of the county’s senior centers will be hosting a mindfulness workshop with Anna Smyth, an addition that shows the willingness of county officials to embrace different wellness methods. 

Making the fair even more special was the addition of a custom mural. Designed by artist Kim Martinez who accepted design suggestions by the 10th East Senior Center members, the mural features representations of friendship, caregivers and activities that make the center’s members happy. During the fair, attendees were encouraged to color the mural. 

Paul Leggett, the division director of Aging and Adult Services, said, “The goal of our senior centers is to keep the state’s aging population independent and out of nursing homes.” He later said, “We organize the health and fitness fair to help people make better decisions about their health and how they age.”