Editor’s note: “A Better Life” is a weekly column by the USU Extension – Tooele Office that focuses on a variety of topics intended to enhance quality of life.
Senior health is a concern not just for those aged 65 and up in our community, but for everyone. It’s been called a silver Tsunami — the rising tide of an older America — with the increasing economic burden and health costs.
But some say this puts too negative a spin on aging — that aging can and should be a time of health and activity that contributes more to society than it requires. The key to a healthy community that is aging well is to maximize aging’s wisdom while minimizing the negatives. USU Tooele Extension wants to give a shout-out to local and state efforts to boost senior health that have happened this month: the Tooele Senior Expo and the Huntsman Senior Games in St. George.
The Tooele Department of Aging Services held a Senior Expo at Tooele Technical College on Sept. 28 that was a booming success. Over 350 attendees gathered for information on senior health and services available in Tooele. The event had 10 gold and platinum community sponsors that donated dollars to support senior health. Dozens of vendors and information booths were also there to give the community access to services they need.
USU Tooele Extension was at the Tooele Senior Expo with the FoodSense blender bikes, a fun and interactive machine where people can try pedaling with enough power to mix up a fruit smoothie. We also promoted the Living Well with Chronic Pain workshop that we are co-facilitating and starts on Oct. 16 at Mountain West Medical Center. The workshops are free and serve all ages, but have been particularly well attended by seniors (contact Lindsay for more information at Lindsay.King@hsc.utah.edu). Managing pain in a way that doesn’t stop us from reaching our goals is a key to aging well.
This month I also journeyed to St. George to participate in health screenings at the Huntsman World Senior Games. The Games draw seniors from around the globe for various types of competitive events from cycling to table tennis and beyond. This year 18 residents from Tooele, Grantsville and Stansbury Park were part of the 11,000 registered participants.
At the games, the seniors don’t take their health for granted. This group of active seniors knows the importance of health, so the Games sponsor health screenings for glucose, PSA, cholesterol, core strength and balance, vision, hearing and more.
The pro-active stance toward health that I saw from these seniors is part of their success in life and in health. One 80 year old looked too fit to have had bypass surgery and be a survivor of two types of cancer. He attributes getting annual screenings to early detection that saved his life. A 95-year-old woman stopped by my booth and said that her daily 15 push-ups were part of her key to health.
She told me, “If you don’t keep doing it, then you won’t be able to keep doing it.” At Tooele Extension, we support these efforts to build a healthier community by supporting health in aging.
Maren Wright Voss, ScD, is a professional practice extension assistant professor of health and wellness at the USU Extension – Tooele County Office, which is located inside the Tooele County Health Department Building, 151 N. Main, Tooele. She can be reached at 435-277-2409 and at firstname.lastname@example.org.