Actress Ingrid Bergman, she of “Casablanca” fame, once said, “Getting old is like climbing a mountain; you get a little out of breath, but the view is much better!” Sometimes, though, that view can be hindered by an array of obstacles, from experiencing changes in health to receiving adequate nutrition to finding the perfect forever home.
But help in navigating that trek — the better to appreciate all of life’s vistas — is being offered by close to 40 area businesses and organizations at the annual Senior Health Fair on Thursday, April 28, at City Center Mall.
The health fair, organized by the North 65 Chamber of Commerce, is for seniors, their families, and caregivers, and, according to the chamber, anyone who is interested. Those who anticipate having to help their parents in a few years can come and gather information to learn what kind of resources are available.
“This annual event provides a vital and easily accessible service for seniors and their caregivers in our community. We are pleased to provide this ‘one-stop-shop’ for anyone seeking resources for aging parents and loved ones,” said Vanessa Hanzel, assistant executive director of the Chamber.
Included in the fair will be free health screenings, performed by nursing students from Anoka-Ramsey Community College and led by Instructor of Nursing Christine Andres. Among the screenings are those for blood pressure, balance and fall prevention, sleep, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and nutrition, among others. Cambridge ACT on Alzheimer’s, Catholic Charities Senior Dining, Family Pathways, and Cambridge Medical Center will assist with the screenings.
According to a news release from the chamber, which represents businesses in the cities of Cambridge, Isanti and the surrounding area, seniors will pick up a form as they check-in listing all the screenings. The form includes a space for the results of each assessment.
After completing the screening circuit, which is located in one corner of the mall, seniors can sit down with a representative from Senior Linkage Line, part of the Central Minnesota Council on Aging, which explains their individual results. If needed, referrals will be provided for follow-up.
As vital as these health screenings are, they aren’t the only resources available at the fair. Representatives will be on hand with information on health insurance, financial services, community education, memory care, transportation, and senior living. Mid Minnesota Legal Aid also will provide a “legal screening,” for anyone who wishes to meet. According to the chamber, “Each year the number of vendor spots reaches capacity. A panoply of booths stretches the length of the mall.”
Paula Goetzke, who went to the event last year, said the fair has a lot to offer for those who attend.
“It had good information for seniors,” Goetzke said. “I found out about a lot of different programs that are available.”
Goetzke was also impressed by the resources regarding senior living.
“Looking into the future, if there’s some place I need to move into, such as assisted living or something like that, that information was (provided),” she said, adding that she and her friends would be in attendance again next week. “It was interesting to find out about different services that are available.”
An additional benefit to at the fair is that it offers the chance for seniors, their friends and families to socialize in a safe setting. There are tables for sitting and chatting, with a coffeeshop, marketplace, restrooms, and other amenities nearby.
The chamber has organized the event every year since 2015. Approximately 200 seniors and senior caregivers generally attend, and despite COVID, more than 100 screenings were performed at last year’s event. In addition to the chamber, event sponsors are GracePointe Crossing, Isanti Physical Therapy, and Sterling Pointe Senior Living. These sponsorships enable the health screening to be provided at no cost, and allow seniors, caregivers, families, companies and other groups to come together for a common cause.
“Bringing businesses and community organizations together fosters a healthy community,” Hanzel said.
The Senior Health Fair is free and will be held from 9 a.m. to noon. The City Center Mall is located at 140 Buchanen Street in Cambridge. No pre-registration is required for guests to attend.