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Watertown Daily Times | Jefferson County seniors flock to Sen …


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WATERTOWN — North country seniors converged upon Jefferson Community College on Friday for free lunch, live music and vital health information.

At this year’s Jefferson County Senior Health and Wellness Fair, hosted annually by Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, the college gym was soon crowded. Rows of tables stacked with pamphlets and freebies were reminiscent of every college fair, but targeted a much different demographic.

Tom Fulton, 73, was happy to see a wide range of senior services gathered under one roof.

“Today’s just wonderful,” Mr. Fulton said enthusiastically. “It brings everything that could ever happen to you under one roof — housing, health insurance, hospice — plus it’s a chance to get out and have a great lunch.”

Local hospitals and clinics, insurance companies, hospice and end-of-life services and many more businesses were represented at the fair. Law enforcement was on hand to safely collect and dispose of unwanted prescription drugs.

Many visitors lined up at the Kinney Drugs booth for quick, convenient flu shots in the hopes of staying healthy through the coming winter.

“The flu kills many people each year, and the elderly and very young are most at risk,” Pharmacy Intern Marissa Bradley said. “(The fair) is great because it’s easy for patients to come get information, get the vaccination and go on their way, and it’s all in the same place. … It seems to be a big attraction for people.”

Mrs. Ritchie was busy serving popcorn and chatting with seniors lining up for lunch.

“The turnout has been really huge in our new venue. … It has worked out great. I’ve heard a lot of wonderful (responses,)” Mrs. Ritchie said. “It’s also a good opportunity to get out and be social, interact. All you have to do is walk up and talk to someone to see how excited people are to come out, have lunch, hear music and at the same time get the information they need to stay healthy.”

In between performances by the band The Country Stompers, Mrs. Ritchie presented Sylvia Buduson and John Morgia Sr. with Senior of the Year awards for their extensive volunteer work and community involvement.

“I’m so glad Sylvia finally got recognized,” Mr. Fulton said. “In my book she’s the best.”

Sheila Kehoe, long-term care coordinator for the Jefferson County Office for the Aging, has attended the fair for years, providing information on the benefits seniors are eligible for and the services they may not know they can access.

“There’s been a real spike in (visitors) today,” Ms. Kehoe said. “It can be confusing as benefit qualifications change over the years. Often we have people seeking one service, like help with health insurance, who don’t know about our other programs like meal delivery.”

“(Seniors) are often forgotten, it’s not often there’s a chance to get together like this,” Mrs. Ritchie said. “I look forward to this every year.”

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