Thinking Ahead: Senior Living Expo returns for fourth year

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Tompkins County has a healthy number of organizations working to improve the lives of older adults, and their caretakers, in the area. Next month those parties will be coming together to showcase what they have to offer in the fourth annual senior living expo co-sponsored by the Ithaca College Gerontology Institute and the Tompkins County Office for the Aging.


This year, the expo will have a special focus on falling and falls prevention. It’s a theme that the Office for the Aging has been leaning into for most of the past year as there has been an increase in falls in older adults.


“This year the information sessions are targeted towards falling and Stay Steady Fall Risk screening will also be done in one of the conference rooms,” Rodney Maine, Aging Services Specialist at the Office for the Aging, said.


This year’s expo will take place on Saturday, April 13 at the Clarion Inn (formerly the Ramada Inn) at 2310 N Triphammer Rd, across the street from Tops Market.


Because they knew the event would have the fall risk screening, Maine said they tried to find topics for presentations that were related. This year’s presentations are: ‘Community supports for aging in place,’ from Lisa Monroe, Director of the Office for the Aging at 1:30 p.m.; and ‘What is the best exercise to beat dementia, diabetes, and disease?’, from Dr. William Shang, Laboratory Director at Ley Lab at 2:30 p.m.


“Falls are always a risk and if someone does fall their lifestyle can definitely change,” Main said. “There’s traumatic effects to falling. If you fall and break a bone or something like that it can change someone’s quality of life very quickly. So, the initiative of preventing falls is to improve quality of life overall.”


So far, over 30 exhibitors will be tabling at the event from local organizations that can offer services for caregivers and older adults. Most are found through local partnerships with IC’s Gerontology Institute and the Office for the Aging. Maine said they try to stay away from businesses and vendors like insurance companies and focus more on service providers that are tailored to meeting their clients’ needs. But in the future, this may change.


The event has continued to steadily grow since it started as a senior housing expo several years ago and may even need to move to a larger venue.


“We have a lot of people calling us asking us when it’s going to be, which is something new,” Mains said.


Last year’s attendance brought several hundred people and he said they expect a similar, if not larger, turnout this year.


The Senior Living Expo isn’t just for seniors, though. Family members and care providers for seniors in the area will also be able to find resources and useful services at the expo. In years past the expo has been a family even, Maine said, for some seniors and their adult children.


“It’s important for the community,” said Barbara Ganzel, Director of the Ithaca College Gerontology Institute, of why IC participates. “It’s such an important thing to do that it’s kind of a no-brainer for us. We want to help in whatever way we can.”


Not only does it help connect local seniors with area resources, but Ganzel said it also helps the Gerontology Institute connect with those same resources. The networking between organizations can help build a stronger local network of care. Since there aren’t many events of this kind in the Finger Lakes, it might be the only way for all of these organizations, with similar goals, to be able to talk about what they do and how they can work with other organizations.


“There are so many different resources there [at the expo] that it’s kind of hard to wrap your head around unless you walk around and go ‘Oh look, look at all of this,’” Ganzel said. “It’s an incredibly important event for me to go to, to see what’s available in the community so that we can know what to foster, what might be a wonderful place to send students, just to know what’s going on.”


Stay Steady Fall Risk screenings will be held from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Experts will be able to tell you how to reduce your risk of falling in numerous ways and can send the information gathered to your general practitioner so the information doesn’t go to waste and can be utilized by your health professionals later. As covered in last month’s Thinking Ahead, common reasons for falling include: inadequate lighting, unsecured floor coverings (like throw rugs), medications that can cause dizzy spells, unsafe conditions in the house (lack of railings for stairs, reaching too far for objects, clutter on the floor, etc), and physical strength and balance issues.


For more information on next month’s expo visit: ithaca.edu/gerontology/programs/seniorexpo/

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