By Lynette Norris
Greene Publishing, Inc.
When seniors walked into the big meeting room at the Madison Senior Center on May 24, they found over a dozen tables full of information waiting for them. People browsed helpful tip sheets and pamphlets on almost every subject imaginable, from finding proper footwear for diabetics to avoiding financial scams that often target seniors. Fran Pybus, of the Area Agency on Aging, said her agency co-hosted the event with the Center, but emphasized that Marianne Graves, the center’s public relations person and social organizer/director, had done all the legwork of gathering everything together, calling the vendors and getting them set up. The main event was in the meeting room, but in other rooms down the corridor, seniors could get free health screenings from doctors or clinicians in total privacy. In the big sunny meeting room, they could visit booths staffed by SHINE (Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Elders), a volunteer organization that helps and counsels seniors with confusing insurance problems, or stop at the Federal Telecommunications Relay, Inc., table to see if they qualified for free amplified volume telephones. If they were struggling to pay their utility bills, they could visit yet another table and see if they qualified for EHEAP (Emergency Home Energy Assistance Program). Lighthouse of the Big Bend offered help and information about coping with vision loss. The young woman staffing the booth, Toni King, is an Independent Living Specialist who is legally blind herself. There were booths for Covenant Hospice Care and Preventing Elder Abuse, as well as booths offering information on medical and other security alert devices specifically designed with seniors’ needs in mind. Three Rivers Legal Services was also on hand, giving a presentation on legal problems that affect seniors, and Amedisys Home Health Care’s Regina Hayes and Lisa Waters talked about ways to manage and keep track of the array of medications many seniors use. Linda Bezick of North Florida Pharmacy also spoke about managing medications, emphasizing that seniors needed to not only know which medications they were supposed to be on, but also toss those medications that had passed their expiration dates, since some of them could break down into harmful substances. Bezick also gave away ten glucose monitors, some as door prizes, others to whoever needed them. In addition to door prizes and free items at many tables, seniors enjoyed a healthy lunch buffet with lots of fresh vegetables, followed by some musical entertainment. Danny Graves and Ken “The Muffin Man” Methvin sang for the seniors, accompanying themselves on guitars and a harmonica. Methvin switched hats from time to time during the performance, donning his “blues hat” (a fedora) for the bluesy, James Taylor-esque segment of the show and switching to a railroad conductor’s hat for what he called “the choo-choo song,” Johnny Cash’s “Orange Blossom Special.” The health fair concluded about 2 p.m. but there were still a few people chatting with presenters out in the corridors. Next month, Amedysis will be back, with Regina Hayes giving another educational talk on a health care topic, teaching seniors how to better take care of themselves for a better life down the road.