by Cori Hilsgen
A free traveling health and screening fair, open to people 50 and older, will stop at the Church of St. Joseph Heritage Hall from 8 a.m. to noon Friday, Sept. 26.
The fair will include free tests for blood pressure, balance, memory, diabetes, hearing, nutrition and weight-check screenings. It will also include free health education about driving, vision, hearing, home design, health-care directives, vaccinations, smoking cessation, dental health, mental health, exercise and more.
The Catholic church in St. Joseph was chosen as the first site for the fair, which is a major collaboration between more than 14 organizations that are working on the Greater St. Cloud Community Priority of Supporting Successful Aging in Place.
St. Cloud Aging Services Director Laura Hood said the group decided initially to focus on health, wellness and fitness of older adults. Many adults older than 55 have seven to 10 times higher out-of-pocket health expenses than people in their 30s and 40s.
“This is significant when you consider retired older adults are on fixed incomes with limited options to increase their resource income,” Hood said.
Encouraging and maintaining independence of older adults is also important. Many older adults are more likely to suffer from a chronic illness such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, mental illness and more. Encouraging and maintaining independence in their homes is important to help avoid more costly living arrangements, such as assisted living and nursing homes.
Hood said knowing your health risks and having resources to manage them to continue living in your home is vital.
The fair is unique because the College of St. Benedict and St. Cloud State University nursing departments have collaborated to allow older adults to visit various screening stations that will offer data on a wide range of health indicators, as well as educational information on many topics.
After the screenings, attendees will have a chance to sit down with a resource specialist and form a plan of action with the information they have gathered about their health. Information about specific local-area resources to promote exercise, health and support will be provided.
Agencies in the area involved with the health fair include the Central Minnesota Council on Aging, Whitney Senior Center, City of St. Cloud and the SCSU College of Health and Human Services along with expertise and contributions from SPOT Rehab and Home Care, CentraCare, Ridgeview-Tealwood, St. Cloud Metropolitan Transit Commission, Parish Nurse Ministry programs, Benton County Public Health, Catholic Charities, Discovery Church of Sauk Rapids and the Church of St. Joseph parish in St. Joseph.
The fair will also travel to Discovery Church, located at 700 18th St. NW in Sauk Rapids, from 8 a.m. to noon Tuesday, Sept. 30.
“We chose the communities of St. Joseph and Sauk Rapids for the first two planned health-screening fairs as the community priority is inclusive of the whole five-community region,” Hood said. “We have strong collaborations with the parish nurse-ministry programs, and locating the fairs at churches creates a comfortable and inviting environment and a shared outreach mission. There is not a sign-up for the fair, but we encourage people to come early to take full advantage of all the individual attention and resources that will be available.”