September 13, 2008

Seniors Show Up in Droves for Free Health Screenings in Hayward

By Eric Kurhi


At Wednesday's annual Healthy Aging Fair at Centennial Hall, there definitely was such a thing as a free lunch, and was it ever popular.

A half-hour before the doors to the dining hall opened, the line of senior citizens was 75 deep and growing rapidly. They snaked down the hall of the bustling convention center, with shorter lines forming in the peripheries for the free health screenings, which are the real point of the event.

"It's like a job fair, but better," said Sandra Morris, who came in from Oakland to take advantage of the multitude of cost-free checkups. She had already had her ears inspected -- "Turns out I do have a little bit of hearing loss," she said -- and found herself taking off her shoes and kicking up her heels for podiatrist Dr. Michael Stein.

"Having everything all in one place for seniors to come to is terrific," Morris said. "We have an aging population, and these are very important services. I hope (the fair) continues and grows, and we see more events like this in other cities and counties."

The fair was started seven years ago in Oakland by the Alameda County Commission on Aging. It grew rapidly, and found a perfect home at Centennial Hall in its third year.

"This place, with all the little rooms off to the sides, is ideal," said commission Chairman Quincy Campbell, who added that he expected the number of attendees to top 1,000 this year.

They come from all over Alameda County, Campbell said, from as far north as Oakland and Berkeley to as far east as Pleasanton and Livermore. Many are shuttled in from senior centers, while others arrive independently or via a free bus that runs to and from the Hayward BART station.

Campell said the health screenings are the main draw.

"We used to have health-related lectures, but we found that most of the people who come do so for (the screenings) so that's what we concentrate on," he said.

There was a large selection of diagnostic tests available Wednesday. In addition to ears and feet, specialists were checking eyes, teeth, prostates, glucose levels, bone density, blood pressure, balance and body mass.

Campell said a lot of the attendees don't have a health care plan that would cover all the tests, while others, like Morris, just found the event convenient.

Plus, there are the freebies. A vendor room hosts dozens of organizations and companies offering various services and products, many with promotional pens, pill bottles, medicine droppers, refrigerator magnets and the like all up for grabs, and grabbed they were.

"Everyone loves free stuff," said Campbell. "Sometimes they fight over it."

On Saturdays, Senior Journal spotlights remarkable local seniors, issues that are important to them, organizations that are there to help or activities they enjoy. If you know of an interesting Hayward- area senior, important issue or effective organization, please e- mail [email protected]; call 293-2468, write us at 22533 Foothill Blvd., Hayward, CA 94541 or send a fax to 510-293- 2490.Senior menu-- Monday: black beans and corn with sweet pepper salad; beef tamale with homemade sauce; Spanish rice, sauteed zucchini; orange wedges.-- Tuesday: pineapple coleslaw; teriyaki- glazed chicken quarter; brown rice pilaf; baby carrots; orange wedges; fortune cookie.-- Wednesday: minestrone soup; chicken salad on mixed greens with tomato wedges on a whole-wheat hoagie roll; pineapple and Mandarin orange cup. Hamburger or veggie burger also available.-- Thursday: pickled beets and tomato on spinach with homemade dressing; hearty beef stew with vegetables and potatoes; whole-wheat roll; hot apricot dessert.-- Friday: baked turkey breast with sage gravy; baked yams; seasoned peas with pimientos; cranberry sauce; whole-wheat bread; apple juice; vanilla pudding.

Originally published by Eric Kurhi, The Daily Review.

(c) 2008 Oakland Tribune. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.