Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Senior Expo offers healthy tips

No one seemed to be aging in place Tuesday at the Customers Bank Senior Expo, where people hustled in crowded vendor aisles, moved to the music of Elvis or took the measure of Medicare and its changes.

The all-day expo benefited Berks Encore, the senior service agency, and featured flu shots, health screenings, nutrition lectures, a fashion show, skating exhibition, senior art show, shopping tips and more than 130 vendors.

The event was held at the Body Zone Sports and Wellness Center, Spring Township, and attracted about 3,350 seniors.

While the attendance number dropped from the estimated 4,000 figure at last year's event, it appeared many seniors were more intent on finding specific information about health and fitness, nutrition, medical care and senior living options.

"This is the third year I've been here and I think it's great for all the older people," said Bette Fisher, 77, of Exeter Township. "I don't have any medical problems, but I do pick up all the literature."

"I come to look at all the health treatment possibilities," said Evelyn Kuter, 70, of Boyertown. "You need to get different views (on health matters) because the doctor is not a god anymore."

More seniors, particularly in their late 60s and 70s, stressed that they wanted to be educated on options available to them in all areas affecting their life.

Calling for more chairs for seniors at an afternoon session on Medicare changes, John Vogel, a trained Medicare specialist and Berks Encore volunteer, drew an audience of nearly 100 people, some of them torn between listening to him, but not wanting to miss a later performance of Jeff Krick, an Elvis impersonator.

"You know there has been an Elvis sighting," yelled one audience member to Vogel.

"They'll be back, they always come back," said Vogel, noticing a few seniors who stepped inside the door only to turn around and leave.

For some seniors, the Senior Expo was a completely new experience, but they trumpeted the convenience of being there.

"This is my first time here, and it's very nice," said Carl Bechtel, 70, a retired carpenter who worked for casket and organ businesses. "It's really good to have everything in one place."

"This is huge I didn't think it would be this big," said another first-timer, Theresa Kazmierczak, 77, of Reading, a retired office clerk. "That's why I'm sitting down. I'm tired."

One of the more popular events involved several talks and cooking demonstrations by Meredith Mensinger, Redner's Warehouse Markets dietician, showing seniors how to shop economically and stick to a dietary plan without feeling restricted or deprived.

She whipped up three recipes - turkey burgers, chicken chili and tortilla soup - before an audience of about 40.

"I call it assembling, not really cooking," Mensinger quipped.

"But I feel a lot of seniors are just overwhelmed with all the information floating out there," said Mensinger, a Redner's nutritionist for four years. "I used to work in a hospital, but this is a way to reach seniors every day."

And 72-year-old Barbara Shalters of Wernersville, sitting in Mensinger's audience, spoke up on her behalf.

Diagnosed last spring with celiac disease - a faulty absorption of gluten in the intestine - Shalters said she called Redner's and Mensinger offered to take her on a tour to show her the foods she should be eating and avoiding.

"She was absolutely wonderful, and that's the kind of help we really need whether the problem is diabetes, heart disease or obesity," Shalters said.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Budget Healthy Eating Tips For Your Heart

With food prices significantly rising, more New Jerseyians are feeling the pinch in their pocketbook as they visit the local grocery store or restaurant. But the American Heart Association stresses that eating healthy needs to remain a priority in order to live longer, stronger lives-- and can actually save you money in the long run. 

The American Heart Association offers these ten budget-friendly tips that can help you and your family live heart-healthy lives:

Limit red meat in favor of healthier and less expensive sources of protein. Fish, like tuna, has omega 3 fatty acids that are good for the heart. Nuts and beans have a lot of protein as well, but make sure you review the salt content and eat appropriate portions since nuts tend to be high in fat.

Enjoy frozen vegetables and fruit. They are just as satisfying, and typically just as healthy, as fresh produce. Just check the nutrition facts to confirm that no extra sugar or salt was added.

Avoid eating out, as most restaurants come with extra large portions and extra large price tags. And options at fast food restaurants are typically loaded with excess fat, salt and sugar.

Eat before you go shopping. Going to the grocery store on an empty stomach will leave you more likely to buy on impulse. And make sure to look for the Heart-Check Mark, which indicates the product has met the American Heart Association suggested nutritional guidelines.

Grow a garden! Not only will you save on vegetables like cucumbers and tomatoes, but you'll stay active with this new hobby. And regular exercise is another important part of managing heart disease and stroke.

Scout your local newspaper for coupons before you go shopping. It may cost $1-2 to purchase the Sunday paper, but your savings will likely exceed this amount.

Shop for seasonal produce - fruits and veggies are less expensive during their peak growing times, and they're also tastier!

Look for the generic brands. The ingredients are usually the same as the brand name versions, but they're much more affordable.

Make your own pre-packaged snacks by buying a large container of raisins, nuts or pretzels and separating them into individual portions yourself. By checking the nutrition facts, you can gauge how many to eat at one time based on the fat, salt, and sugar content.

Plan your meals each week. By planning ahead, you can check the nutrition facts of a meal before you decide to make it and create a detailed grocery list for easy shopping. Planning also helps avoid impulse shopping.

"Some people think that the dollar menu at the local fast food joint is the best choice for their budget," notes William Tansey, III, MD, spokesperson for the American Heart Association and cardiologist with Summit Medical Group in Short Hills. "But the truth is that fast food-as well as processed food-is often high in calories, saturated fat and sodium and low in the important nutrients your body needs to function properly, which can lead to obesity-a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases."

Obesity is linked to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. The estimated annual cost of obesity-related diseases is $147 billion a year, which accounts for nearly 17 percent of medical spending in the United States, according to recent research done by John Cawley at Cornell University and Chad Meyerhoefer of Lehigh, indicating that the nation's weight problem may be having close to twice the impact on medical spending than previously estimated. Half of that cost is financed through Medicare and Medicaid.

Millions of Americans are consuming too many empty and fat-laden calories and not exercising enough.
And today's youth are becoming heavier at an alarming rate, with nearly 12 million children and adolescents ages two to 19 are considered obese. As these children grow older, they have a much greater risk of developing and dying from chronic diseases in adulthood.