Gardiner will hold a Senior Expo offering advice, information and resources

The Gardiner Senior Resource Committee will be hosting a Senior Expo at Gardiner Town Hall on September 23. Pictured left to right are committee members Leitha Ortiz-Lesh, Kaaren Vassell, Joe Katz and Yvonne Allenson. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

The Gardiner Senior Resource Committee will be hosting a Senior Expo at Gardiner Town Hall on September 23. Pictured left to right are committee members Leitha Ortiz-Lesh, Kaaren Vassell, Joe Katz and Yvonne Allenson. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

The Senior Expo slated for Tuesday, September 23 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Gardiner Town Hall is, of course, intended for the older residents among us, but it’s also for their caregivers, friends and family as well as anybody else in the community who aspires to reach senior status one day and who may find the information useful. Also if your a senior and need of extra medical attention check out Skylark home care. Where you can get the care you need from the comforts of your home.

Representatives of the Ulster County Office for the Aging will be present along with the state’s NY Connects agency that provides access to information about long-term support services. Visitors to the expo can learn about RSVP, a volunteer service that connects seniors with drivers to take them to medical appointments and bone density screenings will be conducted along with blood pressure checks and consultations with an audiologist.

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Other individuals and organizations on hand will include the Resource Center for Accessible Living from Kingston (who provide assistance for those with physical disabilities), the Rose Women’s Care Service Community Resource Center of Highland (an organization that helps women find appropriate healthcare), The SUNY New Paltz Lifetime Learning Institute and a senior education group from Mount St. Mary’s in Newburgh, Jewish Family Services of Ulster County, Alzheimer’s Association, Gardiner’s town assessor Maureen Gallagher (who can answer questions about real estate and taxation) an elder attorney (yet to be determined), who will answer questions about estate planning and other such concerns, and Nicole Lane, manager of the Gardiner Library, which has a “library to go” home delivery service that can bring books and CDs ordered online to anybody who is housebound.

Lane said that she’d like to get suggestions and input from seniors at the expo on programs that they’d like to have available at the library. “I’d like to offer more,” she said. “We might want to do an afternoon movie series for seniors, or some music events; a sing-along or a dance specifically for them. We had a Games Day event at the library recently that was organized by a woman from the Lifetime Learning Institute, and she had a nice turnout for that — we might want to offer something like that if there’s interest.”

And in addition to programs already offered specifically for seniors — like the caregivers support group that meets every other Thursday afternoon or Zumba Gold, which tones down the vigorous exercise routine for those with ailing knees and joints — many of the regular programs the library offers are perfect for older people even if they’re not intended specifically as such, said Lane. The library has book clubs, a knitting group, a canasta group, a madrigal singing group and yoga classes, Tai Chi and Qigong that are suitable for all levels. The library also has a collection of audio books that older patrons often use, said Lane, and those can be downloaded to listen to as well.

The theme for the expo is “Promoting Independence.” Joe Katz, member of the Gardiner Senior Resources Committee organizing the event, said that the idea for the expo first came up a few years ago when he was town supervisor. At the time, he was contacted by an intern from a master’s degree program in social work at Poughkeepsie College at Adelphi University Hudson Valley Center about doing a poll of seniors to determine what their major concerns are.

“We sent out about 300 surveys to seniors,” Katz said, “and afterward, formed a small group to try to address some of the problems seniors have staying at home.” The Gardiner Senior Resource Committee is an informal group, he adds, with very little funding from the town and no formal organization in terms of having a president or hierarchy within the group. Their first Senior Expo in the spring of 2013 was well received, he said, and they’ve been planning for another ever since.

The committee also has a resource guide they’ve put together for seniors, which has been updated and will be available at the Senior Expo. The biggest problem the Gardiner Senior Resource Committee has, Katz said, is simply reaching senior citizens with information, given that so many are not inclined toward using the computer. The Senior Expo will have all the experts gathered in one place for the afternoon.

And about that survey sent to seniors that started the whole thing? Turns out, there was only one thing unanimous that was on everybody’s list as their primary concern, said Katz: taxes.

Gardiner Town Hall is located at 2340 Route 44/55 in the hamlet of Gardiner. The Senior Expo is free of charge to attend.

The Ulster County Office for the Aging is currently conducting a senior survey to identify unmet areas of need for seniors or areas requiring expansion of services. The confidential and anonymous survey is available at www.ulstercountyny.gov/aging or a hard copy may be obtained by calling (845) 340-3456.