Aging gracefully is an art - one that was addressed at the Art of Aging Expo Tuesday at Germanna Community College.
More than 65 vendors turned out to talk to approximately 500 attendees, about Medicare, health hazards, scams targeting seniors and nonprofits that can help citizens as they age.
Ellen Phipps, Executive Director for Aging Together, said this was the largest expo the organization has coordinated.
“It’s really critical, because a lot of older adults are really quite isolated and they don’t really know where to go to get information,” Phipps said. “We’ve had five buses from each senior center here today and that’s what Aging Together is really about - connecting people to resources. This is like a one-stop shop.”
Seniors had a chance to get a flu shot, have health care screenings, get their antiques appraised, receive information on Medicare, have their documents shredded and more.
Phipps, who took over as executive director in July, credited Jenny Biggs with putting the expo together. Seniors from the five-county region - Culpeper, Fauquier, Rappahannock, Madison and Orange - roamed the tables at Germanna, learning about the communities they live and the services available to them.
Phipps said the area is attracting many seniors who are retiring to these communities.
“First of all, it's a beautiful area,” Phipps said. “You have the hospitals, you have a plethora of services that you didn’t always have in this area. I think that’s part of the attraction, we know that we have a great area agency on aging.”
The community support seniors receive is also well known, just as Culpeper Senior Center coordinator Gladys Williams.
Williams said her seniors, many of whom were bussed to the expo, loved the opportunity to mingle with community members.
“This way they get out to see folks their age and it gives them the opportunity to see the freedoms they really have,” Williams said. “We go back and we talk about what’s out there and what will benefit them.”
Culpeper Town Police Department Master Police Officer Mike Grant greeted seniors as they came into the room, talking to them about the latest scams and what to be on the lookout for.
“When I teach at the senior center, I always tell them of the newest scams we’re aware of,” Grant said. “If they want information on the phone, don’t give it. Hang up on them and call that company back and see if they called you. You don’t know who you’re talking to 100 percent, don’t give any information out on the phone.”
Especially if the caller says they are a grandchild and need to post bail money with an ebay gift card or iTunes card.
“They are calling these folks and they know the grandkids names and they want money,” Grant said. “Any time they want money on a pay card or iTunes, it’s wrong. Once you send it, we can’t get it back.”
Pastor Brad Hales, of Reformation Lutheran Church, has long been a staunch supporter of ministering to seniors. He listed the many ministries available at his church for older citizens - Caregiver Support, quilting and prayer shawl ministry, grandparenting ministry, senior counseling and more.
“This event has grown through the years, to see all the folks who are here sharing about what they do to help older adults in Culpeper is wonderful,” Hales said. “We know those 50 and older is a growing population in Culpeper. I think as we become more of an aging in place community this is going to be an ideal place to come live their lives. I think this is a great opportunity to showcase what we have for mature adults in Culpeper.”
Representatives from Novant Health UVA Health Systems interacted with seniors, talking with them about where they can go to receive services locally.
“We are able to provide services locally, that many of those in our community could utilize including orthopedics, rehabilitative services, heart health services with our cardiovascular department and it’s right here in their backyard,” said Travis Chaney, R.N., director of surgical services at Novant Health UVA Health Systems Culpeper Medical Center.
Greg Harpine, director and owner of Souls in Harmony - a nonprofit that uses music to help with memory, talked about how his business has grown. They will be moving to Southridge Parkway and expanding the services they now offer.
“Our goal is to open up to the homecare community, you have people taking care of their loved ones - family members at home with dementia and Alzheimer’s and they have no resources,” Harpine said. “This is going to allow us to reach out to the home care community and offer these music services to them as well as educational components and support groups for caregiver stress.”
Rich and Jacki Kiser roamed through the expo and enjoyed talking to all of the vendors.
“There’s so many other vendors here that relate to us as we age,” Jacki Kiser said. “This is a great place, if you have something in your work history that you can offer to the community - this is the place to talk to someone and they’ll help you out. There’s lots of them that will come and talk to your group - there’s no charge for that. We just stopped at a booth where they told us about Medicare fraud.”