From Medicare to travel, Prime Senior Expo brings info to older adults

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SPRINGFIELD — Aging is inevitable, but wisdom is not. Just for that reason the Prime Living Senior Expo offered up loads of information to help make getting older a little less daunting.

Sponsored by Reminder Publishing and The Republican, the second annual Prime Living Senior Expo was held in the MGM Aria Ballroom on Sunday.

“Basically, it is a chance to have a one-stop shopping experience for anything you might need for living your best life after the age of 45 or 50,” said Debbie Gardner, editor of The Reminder’s Prime Magazine. “We have got people for exercise, we’ve got people for travel, we’ve got people for home improvements, real estate, people who will help you make sure you have the right things for Medicare, we have some elder law people, and we have some yoga people.”

Reminder Publishing has been offering Prime Magazine, its monthly publication catering to seniors, for the past 35 years.

More than 40 exhibitors filled the Aria Ballroom, passing out all sorts of information. Need to know how to negotiate Medicare? Independent insurance broker Erica Beaudry of Easthampton was ready to help.

“My role is as an independent broker, so I am an advisor,” she said. “Medicare is a very confusing landscape that leaves a lot of people completely baffled. My goal is to guide them through the process, whether it is initial enrollment or if they have been enrolled in a plan and it just doesn’t seem to be working for them, I do a review and help them with options.”

But some attendees to the expo were only looking to improve their home, maybe new windows or a bath refit. Craig and Maria Burke were looking into having work done on their home.

“We were interested in having some construction, maybe windows on our house,” Craig Burke said.

The couple has a son who uses a wheelchair and who moved in with them. They were also interested in installing structures around their home in the fall, such as a ramp.

The Prime Living Senior Expo tallied more than 10 companies ready to make the repairs or improvements the Burkes are looking for, as well as work that other older folks look for including sit-down tubs and walk-in showers.

Of course, some want to get away from home and hearth and see the world in their senior years.

“A lot of people are interested in the river cruises,” said Amy Frank of Magical Moments Vacations. “European river cruises are a great way to see and experience different countries.”

Frank, who exhibited at the expo, also specializes in Sandals Resorts and Disney destinations.

Many seniors are military veterans and look to the Veteran Administration for care as they grow older, but did you know the VA also helps families as they care for older veterans?

Todd Hynek works out of the VA in Leeds, and he had information about the VA’s Caregiver Support Program, which is designed to support family caregivers of veterans, be they spouses or children of the vet, as they continue to live in their home.

“The VA provides lots of different services for veterans,” Hynek said, “but this is the only program that does something that recognizes the family caregivers as an important part of the veteran’s care. … Our program supports those family caregivers that works on their health, their mental health, their physical health and their emotional wellbeing. We provide them with education and clinical supports.”

Care is a continuum for older Americans. Patricia Roos, from Holyoke, was looking for after-care for a friend of hers and said she may well have found it at the expo.

“I have a friend who just got out of a nursing home, and she is in need of care, and the Visiting Angels had a program that seems it might work for her,” Roos said. “I got their information to pass on to here.”

Denise Buckel wandered into the expo with few expectations but found some compelling information.

“I live with my mother, and I was basically coming to see what was offered in the area,” Buckel said. “We are in our own home now, but if she needs additional independent living or assistive living, I wanted to see what was around and pick up some information.”

She also found some potentially immediate help for her mother.

“She has issues with balance, and I found someone in there who may be able to help her with that,” Buckel said.

That “someone” is physical trainer Lamar Moore at Moore Fit for Life Training.

“I specialize in training for the fit folks 55 and over,” he said. “They have different goals than those in their 30s and 40s. It is about maintaining.”

Moore said that proper physical exercise can help to circumvent future illness such as heart disease.

“Exercise is probably the best intervention for those conditions and is the best longevity drug. As long as you are moving, they can’t bury you,” Moore said.

Moore said proper exercise and movement can help issues such as balance and osteoarthritis as well.

If one message comes out of the Prime Senior Expo, it is that getting older is not the time to quit learning. There is so much that needs to be learned and only so many resources are available.

Donna Kimball is the director of planning for Top Floor Learning, a company designed to teach older Americans how to navigate today’s technological world.

“We do adult education of all sorts, especially technology,” she said. “We recently started pairing with AARP and senior planning to start offering technology workshops and classes for seniors specifically. That includes computer literacy, as well as new smartphones; we work on how to access health apps and medical information on your phone.”

Gretchen Halasi-Kun, director of business development for The Republican, said events like the Prime Living Senior Expo allow the company to bring valuable information to its readers.

“We love to do events like this that engage the community,” she said. “This event taps into our readers and community members ages 55 and up. There are a lot of great services in our community for that age group and we want to bring the community members to those services.”

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