It’s one thing for people to attend an expo or seminar for enjoyment, but imagine when that event helps transform lives and create a positive economic impact with so many attendees. This is what we have seen at Empowering Seniors, the health and lifestyle expo now in its sixth year, as it continues to improve the lives of seniors, baby boomers, caregivers and family members. When people inquire why this event is so important, I like to refer to the experience of one of our most consistent guests. He exemplifies why Empowering Seniors is such a powerful and life-enhancing event. He told me this past year that his mother had been injured in an automobile accident, and that she experienced a great number of complications. Only because they had attended Empowering Seniors in previous years and had gathered information from our participating hospitals, exhibitors and non-profit agencies, has he been able to navigate the complexities of locating resources to help take care of his mother.
As he told me recently, “This entire situation was so overwhelming, and I would never have been able to take such great care of Mom without having made all these valuable connections. This definitely shortened my learning curve and has helped make life much better for both her and me. It also saved us a significant amount of money by introducing us to non-profits and agencies that could help us.” I consistently hear about how the free screenings from our local hospitals help detect health concerns that need to be addressed immediately. The prompt attention from these early screenings saves hundreds of thousands of dollars for seniors that treat these issues in the early stages rather than in the far more costly and risky critical stages. One hospital representative reported that over 30% of their event guests receiving free screenings at Empowering Seniors were then referred to local doctors, clinics and social service agencies. Once again, early detection is enriching lives and saving hundreds of thousands of dollars. With a projected 2,000 free health screenings performed by our hospitals, exhibitors and Lions Clubs, we are introducing seniors, caregivers and family members to solutions that could save any family substantial sums. I feel it’s safe to say that the economic impact of Empowering Seniors exceeds $2 million when considering the resulting doctor visits, tests and procedures, and easily twice that amount when considering the costs associated with later diagnosis of health conditions in advanced stages.
Screenings for hearing, bone density, prostate and diabetes help attendees recognize early stages of conditions that are less costly to treat and may often help avoid surgical procedures. When calculating the cost of just one heart bypass surgical procedure avoided through early detection, that quadruple bypass could cost anywhere from $70,000 to $200,000 depending upon severity and complications, according to online price estimates. Two years ago, one of our attendees discovered through a blood screen test that he had Type II Diabetes. With early diagnosis, he has been able to seek treatment and acquire the medications that are keeping his diabetes under control. I was most impressed when this man began speaking to senior groups, explaining how Empowering Seniors had so dramatically impacted his life. He has become a true ambassador for our health and lifestyle expo. Seniors, caregivers and family members are learning the broad net of services that Medicare and Medicaid cover, helping these individuals discover affordable healthcare options within this senior-focused health insurance program. In addition to the direct economic impact from healthcare, helping our attendees avoid ID theft and fraud through our seminars can protect countless dollars that go unreported due to scams focused on the elderly. Another form of economic impact that is new this year is a job and volunteer opportunity bank that posts opportunities for part-time work and volunteer service.
Seniors are an independent bunch and they… well, we (because I am one, as well!) want to stay active and independent. We have extended the length of this year’s expo by 30 minutes to allow attendees to further enjoy the activities, with our doors opening at 8:30 a.m. and continuing to 2:00 p.m. Once again, participants will enjoy live entertainment, free health screenings conducted by healthcare professionals from five area hospitals, plus exhibits, Bingo, and lots of nifty door prizes. And, of course, free food from eight area restaurants. We have added a fifth hospital this year, so the University of North Texas Health Science Center is joining Baylor Regional Medical Center at Grapevine, JPS Health Network, North Hills Hospital, and Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital HEB in providing free health screenings by medical professionals for our visitors. Empowering Seniors 2014 will take place at Campus West in Bedford, at the northwest corner of Airport Freeway and Highway 157/Industrial, and will continue to make a dramatic impact – personally and financially – upon our seniors, seniors-to-be (boomers), caregivers and family members.
Gary Fickes is the Precinct 3 Commissioner for Tarrant County. For more information, please visit www.empoweringseniors.com or call 817-581-3600.