Conference to prepare seniors for retirement

MARQUETTE – Aging and retirement don’t have to mean a lower quality of life for growing numbers entering that age bracket.

According to the U.S. administration on aging, by 2030, there will be about 72 million people ages 65 or older – more than twice their number in 2000. Then representing 12 percent of the population, by 2030, they are expected to grow to about one in five people.

Education in health and financial planning can help this growing population prepare for the challenges associated with aging, helping them improve their odds for a long and happy retirement.

To facilitate that, the U.P. Commission for Area Progress, in collaboration with the OSF St. Francis Hospital, will present the first annual “Live Well – Age Well” conference from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 4 at the Island Resort and Casino Convention Center in Harris.

Attendees can participate in two of six workshops to be held on the topics of Tai Chi; home canning; planning for retirement; Medicare and Medicaid; health and wellness programs; and fraud, abuse and scams.

Darren Young, the manager of business and community relations at UPCAP, said this kind of conference is good for individuals, as well as communities.

“I mean, the healthier our seniors are, the better quality of life they have, and that’s important to us,” Young said. “If somebody doesn’t have to go to the hospital – if they can cut down on four to five visits a year – because they’re living a healthier lifestyle, and we get a lot of people doing that, you know, that’s more money in our communities.”

Young said the difference between this conference and senior conventions sponsored by UPCAP in years past will be greater emphasis on prevention aimed toward a slightly younger crowd, as well as a more educational format.

“I think the breakout sessions are going to be a little more informative, versus going from booth to booth, getting free stuff … pens and miniature flashlights and little things,” Young said. “The information was there before; it was just presented in a different manner. This is a little more hands-on and gets people talking in a group, versus waiting in line to go to the next thing.

“I mean, we had 400 people and 20 booths … It was like musical chairs … So instead of (a presenter) having to tell everybody one at a time about canning, she can talk to a big group at once.”

Presenters will be Cathi Knauf, senior trainer for the Tai Chi Institute in Escanaba; Beth Waitrovich, educator for the Michigan State University Extension who will teach food preservation and canning; Tonya LaFave and Tammy Rosa, who will teach pain management and wellness techniques; Sherry Whitman, UPCAP’s counselor for the Michigan Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program; Officer Geno Basanese and Trooper Dale Hongisto with the Michigan State Police, who will present “Fraud, Abuse, and Scams: Tips About Consumer Health;” and Julie Moberg with the Delta County MSU Extension, who will present on financial planning for a healthy retirement.

“These (presenters) are experts,” Young said. “And all the information – the pain programs, the Tai Chi – is evidence-based, so we know it’s effective.”

The cost to register is $10 and a hot meal will be provided.

“We don’t want people to have to pay a lot to learn these things,” Young said. “We feel like this should be a free service. If we could make it free, we would. It’s important to provide information to our communities, so the easier and cheaper we can make it on people, the better.”

The conference will begin with registration from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. The keynote speaker, Dr. Ronald Sherman, D.O., a pulmonary disease specialist from OSF St. Francis Hospital & Medical Group, will then present on the subject of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

COPD, characterized by increasing breathlessness, is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis and asthma, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Over half of the estimated 24 million individuals suffering with COPD do not know it, according to the COPD Foundation.

At noon, lunch will be served, consisting of attendees’ choice of grilled chicken or vegetarian pasta primavera. A cooking demonstration of a healthy dessert option will follow, taught by Beth Waitrovich. The dessert will be served as well.

At 1:15, the first breakout sessions of individual workshops will begin, followed by a 15-minute break, the second round of workshops, and a closing.

Prize drawings will be awarded at the end of the conference, and $5 in “promo cash” will be provided to each attendee by the casino.

Seating is limited. Call UPCAP at 786-4701 to register. The deadline to register is Wednesday, Aug. 13, but tickets will be sold until seats are filled.

For more information about this and UPCAP’s other health and wellness programs, visit www.upcap.org. Register online by clicking “Register NOW for 1st Annual Live Well-Age Well Conf…” under the News and Events header on the right-hand side of the page.

Mary Wardell can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248.