Alternative health care attracts seniors

NEIGHBORS

October 23, 2002|By Heather Tepe | Heather Tepe,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

WILDE LAKE High School was the setting for one-stop shopping for seniors last week, as Howard County's Office on Aging held its annual 50+ Expo.

Senior citizens, their caregivers and families gathered information from 125 exhibitors, visited a job fair, received flu shots and learned about alternatives to traditional western medicine at an Alternative Care Fair.

"I think it's a very upbeat and uplifting event for seniors," said Laurie Diener, coordinator of the expo. "It gives a lot of businesses an opportunity to showcase their products and services. There are a whole lot of things that people are exposed to for the first time with this event."

That was true for a lot of folks who attended the Alternative Care Fair, which included exhibitors promoting the benefits of acupuncture, Chinese herbology, therapeutic massage and reiki - a hands-on technique in which practitioners attempt to manipulate a patient's energy field.

Alvin Hess, 79, of Lisbon visited the booth run by Healing Touch Energy Therapies, where Kimberly Shalan, a medical massage therapist, worked on Hess' energy field by moving her hands around his body without touching him. Hess said a woman at his senior center swears by the treatment.

After his brief session, Hess said he could feel a little heat during the treatment, but did not notice a real difference.

"I guess it will work later on," he said.

Sondra Boyd, who works with Shalan, said that it sometimes takes more than one treatment before clients realize a benefit. Treatments range from $60 to $70 an hour.

Beverly Westermeyer, an acupuncturist who lives in Columbia, offered free Chinese ear analysis. "The ear can be used to treat the whole body," Westermeyer said.

Using a blunt probe, Westermeyer touched different points on an ear and charted areas where clients felt heat, tingling or achiness. The chart related the sensitive areas to other parts of the body such as the heart, stomach or wrist.

Westermeyer said that when she started her practice, she thought that her patients would be mainly middle-aged or younger. "I was really surprised and encouraged to see that seniors were very interested and open to trying something to complement their health care," she said.

Carol Zimmerman of Marriottsville said the only form of alternative therapy she has tried is massage, but, like many seniors, she is interested in learning more about alternative medicine, especially acupuncture.

"I think people are just trying different things," she said. "I wouldn't substitute if you had a medical problem and your doctor prescribed medication. I don't think people are going to stop that, but as a complement, I think it's a good idea."

Trisha Olsen, assistant director of operations for the Office on Aging, said that after last year's expo, a focus group looked at ways to improve the event. The focus group recommended expanding exhibits for alternative health care.

"Some of their interest in alternative medicine may have to do with economics," Olsen said. "They may have tried traditional medicine and have issues with the costs, or they may be looking for something different to give them some relief."

Catherine Luber of Columbia believes that senior citizens like her are open to alternatives to traditional health care. "Seniors are more advanced in thinking about our health. We are active and not ready to give up yet," she said.

Wilde art

The Slayton House Gallery in Wilde Lake will sponsor Artfully Wilde from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 9. About 30 artists will participate in the one-day sale of contemporary and traditional gifts, including glass, pottery, clothing, jewelry and home accessories.

"I think everybody will be surprised at the quality of the items," said Janice Friedel, events coordinator for Wilde Lake Community Association. "It's a great opportunity to do your holiday shopping early. It's also a great place to find items for people who are hard to shop for."

West Columbia artists who will participate in the sale are Carol Bodin, Pamela Ecker, Bob Gorrie and Lucy Kerewsky.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale will be used to support arts programs at Slayton House.

Information: 410-730-3987.

Meet the author

Jan Pottker, author of Janet and Jackie, the story of Jacqueline Kennedy and her mother, will be at the central library at 7 p.m. Nov. 6 to discuss her research, show slides and sign copies of the book.

Register for this program at the library or: 410-313-7860.

Halloween fun

Children ages 3 to 10 are invited to Slayton House from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 30 for Wilde Lake Community Association's Wilde Halloween celebration.

Pam, from the Emmy-award-winning TV show It's Kindertime, will lead children through songs and dances to celebrate the season.

Tickets are $3 and can be purchased at Slayton House.

Information: 410-730-3987.

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