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Eric Hess and his fatherHundreds of Fluvanna seniors and their caregivers gathered Wednesday (Sept. 20) at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church to learn how to prepare for and manage aging.

This third annual senior day was put on by TRIAD, an alliance between law enforcement, seniors and organizations that serve seniors, said Sheriff Eric Hess.

The goal is to reduce the fear of crime and victimization among seniors and increase awareness of scams and frauds targeting them. TRIAD also strives to teach that vulnerable population about services available in the community.

“I know [in the U.S.] 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 every day. A lot of them, like me, are taking care of their parents,” Hess said, nodding to where his 93-year-old father, Billy Hess, sat.

Hess said he’s had several conversations with his dad about what to say if someone calls the house when he is away.

“So many of them grew up in a time when someone called to say you owed something, you believed them,” he said. “Because they don’t want a bad mark on their name or credit, they’re more likely than younger people to get their wallet out and write a check. There are a lot of scam artists out there.”

The most recent statistics cited in the Virginia Employment Commission’s community profile of Fluvanna show that 17 percent of Fluvannians are 65 or over.

Looking at the crowd and noting the variety of services represented and things to do at Senior Day, Hess seemed proud. “This is just what our community is all about,” he said. Besides a free lunch, seniors could get a flu shot, practice yoga, learn about banking, medical equipment, Medicare, eating right and many other available services.

Grace Witkowski spun the Jefferson Pharmacy prize wheel staffed by Diane Dean. Witkowski said she moved to Fluvanna in 2014 and was at the event to find out more about what services are available to her. Like Hess, Witkowski takes care of her 89-year-old mother.

“I’m grateful they’re doing this,” Witkowski said. “This is very beneficial for the society.”

Ann Yonce, owner of Good Neighbor Pharmacy, offered flu shots.

Board of Supervisors member Patricia Eager stood in line with her husband, Minor Eager, to get a shot.

Afterwards, Patricia Eager said Senior Day shouldn’t be missed. “It’s a wonderful program for our seniors, and this nurse gives a great shot,” she said.

Fork Union Senior Center friends Anne James, Mildred Johnson, Lorraine Smith, Grace Woodson and Annie Thomas sat at one of the many tables with their bags full of swag.
“We came last year,” James said. “So far it’s about the same as last year. It’s a day out.”

Neither James nor her friends took advantage of the gentle yoga for seniors class taught by Barbara Bartell.  But Rev. Sam Woodson did. “I’m just trying to stay flexible,” he said.
Bartell teaches an 11 a.m. class at Sts. Peter and Paul every Monday and Tuesday. Anyone can come, no registration is required, and the cost is $5 a session.

“Let’s face it,” Bartell said. “You have to keep moving. Even if you have aches and pain the only way to get rid of them is to move. The overall effect yoga has is teaching you to destress and how to breathe properly.”
Outside the church, Nancy Lo, a Virginia GrandDriver coordinator, and volunteers provided drivers with a 12-point car fit check. The GrandDriver program provides Virginians with information on how to stay safe and mobile on the road as they age. 

Lo said a car fit check is meant to make sure the driver is best situated to use the safety features in the car. Drivers sat in their cars while volunteers checked various things, including whether the driver could see above the steering wheel, if the driver was sitting a safe distance away from the airbags, and whether the mirrors were adjusted correctly to minimize blind spots.

“This check isn’t just for seniors, it applies to everybody,” Lo said.