The Senior Health Fair was time well spent today at Des Moines University! I expected as much. I walked away from the Fair with a message that I knew, but it was a message that I have been conveniently choosing to ignore for about a year – more on that in a minute.
DMU had a host of golf carts greeting and carrying visitors to their Student Education Center. Once inside there was a welcome area and 40 stations set up throughout the building. The set up was roomy, efficient, and welcoming. I even had the chance to say hi to DMU’s President, former Iowa Governor Terry E. Branstad. I found
- “vendors” of which half were promoting free services such as Aging Resources of Central Iowa, Alzheimer’s Association, SHIIP, Senior Services of Polk County, and DART who provided free transportation to the Health Fair
- health oriented information on cholesterol, infectious disease, Alzheimer’s, heart health, several cancer types, alternative health care, and coal burning effects
- lots of medical screening and testing of blood glucose, cholesterol and lipid levels, body-mass index, blood pressure, bone density, depression, vision, skin cancer reviews, vascular disease, balance, strength, flexibility, and review of medicines.
- the very popular Booth 33 offered demonstrations of osteopathic manipulative medicine
- and finally perhaps most valuable, the check out station (if you wanted).
At the check out station each person had the opportunity to assemble all of the testing information. While there were plenty of opportunities to talk with DMU medical students and budding practitioners backed up by faculty at each of the earlier stations, I for one didn’t need an ear trumpet to hear the final message.
Being a typical American when I hear the words health care, I think about doctors, problems, and disease. In the U. S. we have come to rely on a medical system that will “fix it” for us: an active medical system, a passive us.
In an article on the Center for Disease Control website we can read that chronic, not infectious disease will be the main contributor to a shortening of life. One of the CDC conclusions (1): prevention of chronic disease requires personal responsibility. That means more responsible eating and exercise. OK. OK. I got the message. From what I could see, the DMU Senior Health Fair was full of pretty healthy people looking for feedback, accepting personal responsibility, and getting a message. Messages are pretty individual and each participant got their own.
My message: health care starts with self care.
No one would have gotten any message except for the service of the dedicated medical students and their faculty. Des Moines University is a great resource and provided a great service through their annual Senior Health Fair.
photo by James G. Lindberg
footnote (1) Other conclusions in the article from CDC were also noteworthy. Are healthy, affordable foods available? Are safe, affordable exercise options available? Does the community address social determinants of health such as education, housing, job opportunity, and racism. But that is another story altogether so I’ll skip it.