gua: Seniors get royal treatment at health fair

Kathleen Jodoin, left, a UF pharmacy student, discusses problems related to antibiotic resistance with Ilean Edwards of Newberry at the “Spring Into Wellness” senior health fair held last Friday at the Thelma Boltin Senior Activity Center.

AIDA MALLARD/Special to the Guardian
Published: Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 3:28 p.m.

Several hundred seniors received "red carpet" treatment at the "Spring Into Wellness" senior health fair.

There were free health screenings, a continental breakfast, individual consultations about their medications, exercise demonstrations, giveaways and plenty of health information available.

Sponsored by the University of Florida Academy of Student Pharmacists, the health fair, which also targeted people of any age who take a lot of medications, was held last Friday at the Thelma Boltin Senior Activity Center.

To accommodate the health fair participants, Harry Jones, a recreation aide for the city of Gainesville, said parking restrictions were lifted for the event.

"Parking restrictions were lifted by the city so that people could park anywhere," Jones said. "The turnout is great, and everyone seems totally pleased. This is a great success."

Jaela Dahl, the health fair organizer, agreed. She said attendance was steady and people were excited about getting health information and free screenings, such as for diabetes, cholesterol, bone density, blood pressure and balance.

Students in the UF College of Physical Therapy provided exercise demonstrations and many participants brought their medications with them to discuss their concerns with pharmacy students.

"We hope to make it an annual event and bring it back here next year," said Dahl, adding that vendors provided information about available services and resources, including assisted living, CHOICES, Medicare Part D, Medicaid, fall prevention, immunizations, heartburn awareness, poison prevention, tobacco awareness, breast cancer awareness, Haven Hospice, Division of Blind Services, Shands Eastside and Community Outreach, Gainesville Fire Rescue, CVS Pharmacy, and volunteer opportunities for seniors.

Manuela Willingham said she was concerned about her cholesterol. "I'm going to do all the (health) screenings," Willingham said.

Ethel Thompson said she planned to visit each booth "to learn what applies to me and what I can use," she said.

Claudia Brown, who came from Archer, said she was concerned about her high cholesterol and blood pressure. She said her balance test showed she was a little off and was given a set of exercises to do at home. Brown also said she was looking to take less medications.

"I'm taking a lot of medications," Brown said. "I want to get off from some of them."

Christine Davis, a pharmacy student, said fair participants seemed very interested in learning about antibiotic resistance. She said they were also interested in learning about home remedies to fight the common cold.

Irene Cho was one of several pharmacy students providing individual consultations about prescriptions and over-the-counter medications.

"We're finding some (patients) are taking medicines, but don't know why," Cho said.

Ilean Edwards said she came from Newberry to attend the health fair, and "I'm glad I came," she said.

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