Age Well DuPage Draws 250-plus Residents to Learn About Healthy Living

By Mike McKissack

More than 250 community members recently attended the inaugural College of DuPage and DuPage County Senior Services "Age Well DuPage: Renew; Recharge; Reinvent" fair.

Click here for photos from this event.

This event, designed to celebrate reinvention, living well and making the most of the second half of life, featured breakout sessions on topics such as financial planning, job searches for older workers, Medicare, social security, stress relief, Tai Chi, volunteerism and wellness. 

During the fair, cosponsored by Walgreens and WDCB 90.9fm, representatives from the College of DuPage Continuing Education and Veterans Services, as well as several of DuPage County departments including DuPage County Community Services, DuPage County Senior Services and DuPage County Veterans Services were on hand to offer information and answer questions. In addition, a number of local and national organizations, including AARP, Ecumenical Support Services, Lifetime Fitness and Walgreens provided products and information to attendees. Refreshments during the fair were provided by Waterleaf restaurant.

During her keynote presentation, which was described by attendees as "dynamite" and a "joy to hear," Executive Director of the Northeastern Illinois Agency on Aging Lucia West Jones acknowledged that society does not always embrace its aging population.

"We are products of a society that oftentimes values an antique doorknob more than it values its older people," she said. "So we've had to struggle for recognition."

West Jones went on to encourage participants to take responsibility for their well-being and quality of life.

"Aging is not for sissies," West Jones said. "Aging is about making choices that heads you in the direction that allows you to be the best you can possibly be. It's not enough to do crossword puzzles or become an expert on National Public Radio or CNN. Choose to age well."

Attendees ranged in age from their 40s to 70s and listed an equally wide range of reasons for stopping by the event. Several attendees noted ageism and the recent economic downturn as motivation for attending the fair. Bensenville native Doris Schubert said she found the information on Medicare and particularly the information on job searches for older workers most useful. She expressed dissatisfaction with her recent experiences in the workforce.

"It seems like many companies want to take advantage of seniors," Schubert said. "I don't like being used because of my age."

A number of people attended the fair to help with issues they face as their parents age.  A resident from Wheaton found information that helped him understand the stages involved in Alzheimer's, a condition that afflicts his aging father.

"I've gained useful information that's given me a better understanding of Alzheimer's from a layman's point of view," he said.

The recent expansions to the College of DuPage campus did not go unnoticed. Longtime community member Susan Richards said she was impressed with how much the College's campus has grown. She added that she enjoyed the fair and found the breakout sessions informative and useful.

"The Tai Chi and meditation sessions were excellent," Richards said. "I'm new to arthritis, so it was really helpful to find out about the resources that are available."

Naperville resident Frank Sommer attended the fair seeking ways to keep active and involved in the community.

"It's important to keep an active lifestyle," said Sommer. "I do a lot of volunteering in the area, and I'm always interested to see what other opportunities might be available."

College of DuPage Lifelong Learning Coordinator Clare Garling described the partnership between College of DuPage and DuPage County Senior Services as a great collaborative experience.

"We both share the same mission of serving the community by providing resources and educational opportunities for those entering the second half of life in DuPage County," said Garling. "We are also thankful to our sponsors who generously contributed to the event - Waterleaf Restaurant, Walgreens and our media sponsor, WDCB."

Continuing Education Program Development Specialist Cristina Willard was also pleased with the success of the event.

"Age Well was a great success," said Willard. "The feedback we received from attendees was extremely positive. People thanked us for a fun and educational day and asked when the next Age Well DuPage event will be."

Encouraged by attendance and enthusiasm, the College of DuPage and DuPage County Senior Services are hoping to make Age Well DuPage an annual event, Willard said.

In addition to life-enriching educational opportunities, College of DuPage Continuing Education offers a variety of programs to lifelong learners in the area, such as free Lunch Break Lectures and special tuition discounts for adults 55 and older.

Click here for more information about Lifelong Learning at College of DuPage.

DuPage County Senior Services provides residents, aged 60 and older, a number of programs and services designed to facilitate healthy aging. It is funded through the Illinois Department on Aging and the Northeastern Illinois Area Agency on Aging to serve as the Case Coordination Unit for DuPage County. This unit publishes "Age Well DuPage" senior resource directory, the Long Term Facilities Directory and the Senior Housing Directory.

Click here for more information about DuPage County Senior Services.

(Photos by Mike McKissack/COD News Bureau)