There's more than meets the eye with '55 + Expo'

March 31, 1994|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,Sun Staff Writer

What's in a name? Apparently not everything.

Next month's "55 + Expo" is not just a daylong event for senior citizens. It's open to all ages -- young people yet to enter their golden years or perhaps adults caring for older parents.

The expo is free and will be held from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 15 at the Annapolis Holiday Inn. More than 60 exhibitors will be on hand for the expo, a joint effort between the Anne Arundel Trade Council and Anne Arundel County's Department of Aging.

Eight seminars will cover topics such as health, financial planning, retirement living options and coping with an aging parent. There also will be medical screenings, raffles and games. At least 1,000 people are expected to attend what is believed to be the county's first expo for seniors.

A strolling magician, a barbershop quartet, a caricaturist, a stilt-walker and a juggler will entertain those who visit the expo's exhibits, which will include information on funeral homes, hearing aid centers, banks and a dating service.

"This is something we started thinking about about a year and a half ago, and we decided to do it," said Jeanette Wessel, chief executive officer of the Trade Council. "There's a very big population in the 55-plus group. It's affluent and growing."

The county has 78,547 people who are age 55 or older. That figure is expected to grow to 123,802 by 2010. Seniors currently account for 17.5 percent of the county's population.

Other counties, such as Baltimore County, have held senior expos for several years, and charged a nominal admission fee. A group of seniors on the Department of Aging's advisory committee squashed the idea of charging an admission, said Ms. Wessel.

Half of the money from exhibitor fees will be given to Friends of Arundel Seniors Inc., a nonprofit organization that helps the elderly, Ms. Wessel said.

It will be used for services such as transporting seniors to medical appointments and helping low-income people, said Patricia McGarty, senior administrator with the Department of Aging.

The department will set up several sites where seniors can get a free ride to the expo between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Seniors should call the department at 222-6825 by April 12 reserve a seat.

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