The Ottawa Elementary gym filled up quickly last Friday during 2019's Senior Expo
The Ottawa Elementary gym filled up quickly last Friday during 2019's Senior Expo.

PUTNAM COUNTY — As is true every year, a larger number of medical providers, non-profit agencies, and businesses that assist area residents as they age came together last Friday at Ottawa Elementary for the 2019 Senior Expo.

Greeting attendees as they came through the door was one of Blanchard Valley’s newest teaching tools - a representation of the human colon large enough to walk through. One which featured facts on colon health along with symptoms of common ailments.

“We just got, actually, a couple of months ago,” says Brianne Hottinger with Blanchard Valley. “We wrote a grant to get it for educational purposes, to bring people in. And, colon cancer is so strong in the area, and also nationwide. “It’s a tool to help us get information out there.”

“They love it,” said Mrs. Hottinger when asked about the reaction from attendees. “I’ve only had one person say it was ‘disgusting,’ but everybody else loves it. They’re looking at the polyps, the normal tissue, and then there’s advance colon cancer there too.”

Mrs. Hottinger also noted that recommended screenings for colon cancer have recently changed from 50 years of age to 45. Anyone aged 45 or older is encouraged to speak with their doctor regarding their risk factors.

In addition to important information, a number of organizations present at the expo offered limited medical services as well. Ottawa Hearing Aid Center provided free hearing tests for those attending, and the center’s Jane Rosengarten gave a quick overview on the difference between hearing aids and over the counter amplifiers.

“The difference between the two is that your amplifiers are only designed to amplify up to 35 decibel loss, which is a flat loss,” she says. “Most people need something that’s custom programmed for them. We can adjust the compression for noise, and adjust the frequencies so they get the proper amplification for their loss.”

Physical ailments were not the only focus of presenters at the expo. Marty Williman, Program Director for the Ohio Council for Cognitive Health, spoke of her office’s programming that assists those with cognitive impairments.

“Our goal is to increase awareness and education around dementia, and topics involving dementia. The most common type is Alzheimer disease, but there are many other types of dementia.”

“So, we have programs that we take out to healthcare providers and social services providers, but we also are trying to reach the ‘unusual suspects’ so to speak. We do a lot of training for transportation providers. So, if the driver has a rider that seems to have some memory trouble, they’ll know how to best communicate with them and help them out on their trip.”

“We do programming around libraries,” she continues, “because they certainly have patrons that might have some memory changes, but still use the library. We do programs for restaurant owners, so that their staff know how to support people who are looking at the 10 page menu, trying to figure out what they want to order. Our goal is just to support people living in the community, so that they can stay in the community for as long as possible and feel supported.”

Then, of course, there were those organizations that seek to do it all when providing healthcare and wrap-around support services, such as Interim Healthcare.

“We approve people’s lives through integrity, compassion, customer focus, innovation and financial responsibility,” said representative Vanessa Pierce. “Our patients come first always, and we provide services from birth to death. So, we’re multifaceted in that aspect, and we accept all payer sources.”

With such a broad mandate, Mrs. Pierce was also asked what types of information attendees were seeking, and what kind of questions they had.

“They’re taking a lot of information,” she answers. “I’ve been doing blood pressure checks, so they’re asking if it’s normal. Other than that, just where we’re based out of, where our home is, where the office out here is, things like that.”

In addition to the exhibitors at this year’s expo, a complimentary lunch was provided along with entertainment by the musical group Country Gentlemen. The keynote speaker was David Austin Sky, who spoke on the important knowledge that many seniors possess, and the need for them to share it. Angie Brinkman with PT Services also provided a Tai Chi presentation.

The Putnam County Senior Expo is hosted by the Putnam County Health Department, Putnam County Homecare & Hospice, Putnam County Council on Aging, The Meadows of Kalida, Leipsic & Ottawa, and the Ottawa Senior Citizens Center.