Information for seniors on the go

Expo: Bureau of Aging stages event geared to the growing population of elderly people - and their caregivers, too.

September 11, 2005|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,SUN STAFF

Nancy Carver pushed her newborn grandson in a carriage through the packed Carroll County Agriculture Center, where the Bureau of Aging was running its first Seniors on the Go Expo.

"He's probably the littlest one here - he's 2 1/2 weeks old - but he's on his way to being a senior," Carver said jokingly. "I'm in my 60s, but I've got a long way to go. We have to keep ourselves young."

Carver was with her daughter, Joyce Carver, a social worker at Long View Nursing Home.

The nursing facility was one of 83 vendors at the expo offering information on programs, services and products for seniors, their caregivers and their families.

"We hoped for 50 exhibitors," said Brenda Shipley, chairwoman for the expo executive committee, which was formed a year ago. "We were getting calls up to this week, so we already have a start-up list for 2006."

The seniors' expo replaced the Carroll County Jubilee that the bureau previously held at the Carroll County Farm Museum.

"We were looking for something different focusing on the needs of older adults and their caregivers," Shipley said. "We also tried to make it intergenerational with a kids' room."

Bureau of Aging officials were overjoyed when a crowd 10 abreast and 15 deep gathered before the doors opened at 9 a.m. Thursday. The 500 canvas bags purchased for participants ran out by 11 a.m., so vendors donated plastic bags for latecomers. By noon, 420 of 500 lunches prepared had been sold.

"It speaks to the interest of the community, the exhibitors and the seniors. It was well done," said Jan Flora, chief of the Bureau of Aging

But the expo was not all serious. Entertainment abounded from singers to dancers to bell ringers to costumed characters.

An opening ceremony was attended by two county commissioners, other county officials, state officials and a representative from Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski's office.

Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge stressed the county's participation in the new Caremark prescription plan, available to all ages in need of assistance in purchasing drugs. The county is ordering 40,000 cards for residents who are underinsured or uninsured, she said.

Jean Roesser, secretary of the Maryland Department of Aging, told the crowd "the real mission of the department is choice, independence and dignity for our seniors. This expo is so important because it engages the seniors in educating them to the services we offer."

Census figures from 2000 showed that Carroll County was home to 21,770 adults aged 60 and older.

While most of the visitors to the expo were senior citizens, some were younger, coming with or on behalf of older family members and neighbors.

At the Stu's Music Shop booth, Victoria Kruszewski, 48, of Eldersburg laughed when the Yamaha Clavinova digital piano played a melody on its own after she pressed three keys.

"I have two left hands, so it's exciting that somebody with no talent or music ability can play," she said. "In five seconds, I felt so good."

Her mother-in-law, Joan Kruszewski, 69, of Westminster, watched. She came to the expo "to see what they're offering for us to entertain ourselves."

Bonnie Eyler, assistant manager at Stu's, showed the women other features, including karaoke.

Nancy Houck, 67, of Finksburg was there with her parents, Carrie and Verl Wagner, 87 and 90, respectively. While her parents were off on their own, Houck let Eyler persuade her to play the piano, too.

"I wanted to look into assisted living [for my parents] just in case," Houck said. "Actually, we'd like to have someone come in and take care of them, so we're looking into that."

Houck admitted she also was getting ideas on where to get things for herself and her 70-year-old husband.

By the Diabetes Association booth, Jocelyn Davey of Westminster and her three children - Cynthia, 11, Bryce, 9, and Kaitlyn, 7 - picked up brochures. Davey's mother, Doris Fumat, 82, is diabetic.

"I'm looking for information on diabetes for Mom," she said. "She kind of goes over it sometimes. I homeschool, so it's a way for the children to learn about seniors and how they can take care of themselves."

Lois Treat, 61, of Eldersburg came with her neighbor, Georgia Hodges, and was picking up brochures.

"I just lost my mom, so I'm the next generation," she said.

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