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Event offers screenings and information for those 50 and older

Apr. 12, 2013 @ 11:49 PM

BARBOURSVILLE -- There was more than shopping on the minds of seniors at the Huntington Mall on Friday. Visitors to the Senior Lifestyle and Health Event learned about preventive measures designed to improve their long-term health and wellness.

The event, for those age 50 and older, included free screenings for diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis, arthritis, bone fracture risk, lung disease, balance and nerve compression, offered by health professionals from Cabell Huntington Hospital, the Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. Information also was presented on health and nutrition, wound healing, advance directive planning, lung and colorectal cancer, cardiac and vascular screenings, and hospital volunteer opportunities.

Dr. Frank Shuler, medical director of Cabell Huntington Hospital's Senior Fracture Program, said he saw the health fair as an opportunity to reach out to an at-risk population.

"We are the second oldest state, with a large number of our population age 65 and older. The No. 1 predictor of a break in a bone is age, so we have a population with significant risk factors," Shuler said. "So, this program, this outreach allows us to identify those at risk before it happens."

Shuler used the FRAX tool, developed by the World Health Organization, to assess the fracture risk of visitors to Friday's event. Early in the day, Shuler had already identified one individual with a 45 percent risk of a spine, shoulder or forearm fracture and a 25 percent risk of hip fracture in the next 10 years. Individuals with high FRAX scores were presented a letter to give to their physician.

"Very simply, with this tool we can identify a problem before it becomes an emergency," Shuler said. "Who is above the threshold? Let's identify those and maybe something as simple as Vitamin D or calcium can make an improvement.

"We can also talk to them about chair rails, bed rails, vision assessment, non-slip rugs," he continued. "Doing the right thing for your patients is also helping them do things to prevent the risk of fractures by falling."

Registered nurse Mitzi Beckett, stroke program coordinator at Cabell Huntington Hospital, was also on-hand to offer blood pressure screenings and to talk to visitors about the risk factors for stroke, such as diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol.

"Simple modifications, the little things like increasing your activity with 21/2 hours of moderate exercise a week and getting enough sleep, can make a big difference," Beckett said. "Know when to go to your doctor, make healthier choices in your diet such as substituting grilled chicken for fried. Those little changes can have positive effects long-term."

Follow H-D reporter Beth Hendricks on Facebook or Twitter @BethHendricksHD.

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