Staff at the Catonsville and Arbutus senior centers are expecting a packed house Thursday, when the two join with Saint Agnes Hospital to host a Health & Wellness Fair for seniors.
In the past, both centers have held informational events for community members to learn tips and tricks for healthy living. This year, they decided to join forces in order to expand access and awareness to more people and more local vendors.
"It's a lot of work, for both staff and volunteers," said Susan Patry, director of the Arbutus Senior Center.
The event is planned for April 16 at the Arbutus Recreation Center, 865 Sulphur Spring Road. More than 30 vendors, including insurance companies, at-home care providers, pharmacies, assisted living centers, chiropractors, dentists, audiologists and more, will operate informational tables for attendees to learn more about services available to them.
"It's a wonderful facility, so this is good exposure for the Arbutus rec center," Patry said, noting the center's large parking lot will be put to use for the event.
"County-Ride will be bringing people in from the Catonsville center," she said, adding residents of the Charlestown retirement community on Maiden Choice Lane may also be among the visitors at the event.
There will also be health screenings, such as those for blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar, run by Seton Medical Group, and various give-aways and demonstrations.
"There's longevity in our society now," said Grace McDowell, assistant director of the Catonsville Senior Center on North Rolling Road. "It's important that [people] know how to increase their quality of life."
Drum, rhythm, line dancing and belly dancing will all be available for people jump in and learn, McDowell said
"It ought to be pretty fun," she said.
The decision to host a joint health fair made logistical sense for both organizations, McDowell said. The co-sponsorship allows the senior centers to reach a larger number of people, allows vendors and other professionals to reach both communities simultaneously and the attendees get to take advantage of the ample parking at the newly built Arbutus center.
The goal, she said, is to make residents aware of the resources they have available to them. This year's fair will host many of the vendors who have attended the health fairs in the past, but there are many new participants as well.
While people today are living longer than ever before, McDowell said, many are not aware of, or not taking full advantage of, the programs, facilities and assistance available in Baltimore County.
"As we live longer, it becomes more important that we know our resources," she said.
Fairs hosted by the Catonsville center have drawn about 230 people and McDowell said she expects this year's event to draw between 250 and 300 seniors and caretakers.
The event is open to all ages and, she said.
Organizers are hoping to attract not just seniors this year, but also those who care for seniors. "Our goal is to get the working caretakers," McDowell said. "So they know that they have resources as well."
The Health & Wellness Fair will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Arbutus Recreation Center, 865 Sulphur Spring Road. Admission is free.
Keith Meisel contributed to this story.