Health Fair offers services, information |

Health Fair offers services, information

by Amy Alonzo
Hundreds of people attended a senior health fair Friday morning at the Douglas County Community Center in Gardnerville.
Brad Coman |

Minden resident Brenda Cleaves stepped onto a circular platform in the Douglas County Community and Senior Center gymnasium and waited. Suddenly, the platform vibrated and she worked to maintain her footing.

Cleaves was testing her balance on a Biodex Balance System under the supervision of Carson Tahoe Health employees during the 18th annual Senior Health Fair.

“It was hard,” the 63 year-old said after stepping off. “It was interesting knowing you didn’t have control over it.”

The balance system is “a good indicator of if you’re at risk of falling, ” said Carson Tahoe Health physical therapy assistant Chris Wittorff. “It’s a good reactive balance [and] dynamic balance test.”

The health fair, sponsored by Douglas County Senior Services, drew hundreds of people seeking information on local services to the community center Friday morning. Blood glucose tests were offered for free, and Carson Valley Medical Center offered a variety of blood tests at low costs. A total of 60 vendors were on hand.

“They (attendees) were coming in before we had all our vendors set up,” said Sheri Karosich, recreation coordinator for community and senior services. “It’s been a steady stream … It’s just growing.”

Representatives from the Suicide Prevention Network were among the vendors on hand.

“Suicide does affect senior citizen populations more than people realize,” said Stephani Halladay, a volunteer with the nonprofit organization.

In 2015 there were 13 reported suicides in Douglas County, said Donna Chizek, special program coordinator for the group. Of those, eight were senior citizens, she said. In 2016 there were five suicides, and of those, three were seniors, she said.

“There’s a lot of isolation,” Chizek said. “When they start to age or don’t have a support system or family around … it’s difficult.”

At a nearby booth Carson Valley Medical Center lab assistant Shawn Ellisen was helping with blood draws.

A steady flow of people had stopped by the booth for testing, she said. Some people had remembered to fast while others had snacked on the free cookies and sweets on hand at the fair.

“We’ve been having to turn some people away,” she said. “Sugar hits the blood stream really fast. It can alter the blood glucose.”

Judy Spivey, 62, of Gardnerville, was attending the health fair for the first time. She passed up the blood tests, saying she had just had hers completed at her primary caregiver’s, but that “I probably will [have it done at the fair] next year.”

“It’s pretty cool,” she said. “It’s very informative here … It’s nice to see everybody here too.”