Sometimes a good bowl of chicken soup is all that is needed to make a sickness go away. Other times, it is having a good knowledge base about what you can do if you or someone you know is victim to a serious illness, how you can prevent the illness in the first place, and where you can go to get help.
The 19th annual Woolwich/Wellesley Adult Health Fair focused on how we can create our own personal health safety net. This includes preparing physically and emotionally to cope with a health crisis, building community and personal support to access when needed, learning to navigate the health care system, advocating for your own health care and ideas for preventing accidents that create a health crisis.
Marilyn Voisin of the health fair planning committee said that the group deliberated on a theme for the day, but in the end, it was the ‘personal safety net’ that simply seemed to make the most sense.
“We got to talking about the things that are really important for seniors today and what it all boiled down to was that if you have a safety net around you, then if a major medical crisis happens, these supports are all in place and you have a much better chance of being able to deal effectively with it.”
At its new location at the Calvary United Church in St. Jacobs, the day-long schedule of events started with a talk about ‘Aging at Home’ by Kathy Durst, chair of the Waterloo-Wellington Local Health Integration Network, followed by a discussion with an OPP officer about keeping ourselves safe on the roads.
‘Why Older Adults Fall’, a presentation by Susan Brown from The Schlegel Research Institute for Aging gave tips and strategies for preventing falls. Janine Grespan of CKCO-TV shared her inspiring story of illness and recovery and offered personal insight about building her own health safety net and how it helped her recovery.
Perhaps one of the most pertinent topics of the day was a talk by Pastor Monika Wiesner, discussing ‘Care for the Caregiver,’ and issues which arise for older adults who are responsible for the welfare of others, in addition to themselves. Voisin noted her happiness that this topic was to be discussed, as it often goes unmentioned.
“It’s just a matter of knowing where to go to get the help. And in some cases, it’s a matter of accepting help. The caregiver is in a very difficult position, with so many demands placed on them. They often forget about their own health.”
Bonuses of the fair included a free massage therapy session, reflexology treatments, blood pressure and auditory clinics and more than 40 donated door prizes to the event. Voisin said she hopes that the message of health promotion came across loud and clear.
“It was an exciting day. There was a nice variety of stuff for people to do and we hope everyone came away with lots of good information and ideas – things that they can do to secure their own health safety net.”