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Silver Linings: Healthy Living Expo helps seniors navigate NH services

New Hampshire Union Leader

September 30. 2018 1:19PM
Terry Neil, director of Profile Chorus, front, leads members of the chorus as they sing during the Silver Linings: Senior Healthy Living Expo on Saturday. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)
Silver Linings
Silver Linings is a continuing Union Leader/Sunday News report focusing on the issues of New Hampshire's aging population and seeking out solutions. Union Leader reporter Roberta Baker would like to hear from readers about issues related to aging. She can be reached at or 206-1514. See more at This series is funded through a grant from the Endowment for Health.

MANCHESTER - Sandra Schmerder of Manchester took a break from Saturday's second annual Union Leader Silver Linings: Senior Healthy Living Expo to reflect on why this daylong event came at a good time for her.

"I just put my husband into the Hillsborough (County) Nursing Home a few weeks ago. Now I am living alone by myself for the first time so that's a real eye opener for me," Schmerder said.

"This is really helping me focus on the next stage in my life."

Sandra's husband at 71 suffers from Parkinson's disease and dementia, and she's hoping a bed will soon open for him in the nursing home unit of the Manchester VA Medical Center.

A large crowd walks through the booths during the Silver Linings: Senior Healthy Living Expo held at Manchester Community College on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)

"Fortunately, I have a lot of friends from church that look in on me, which helps a lot. This event shows me what's out there for my future."

The crowds for this free program at Manchester Community College were bigger and there were 60 vendors - 20 more than last year - offering a wide range of services from housing, nursing care, physical therapy, travel, food and financial services.

Fourteen different seminars were offered, ranging from tax, long-term and estate planning and tips on how to avoid scams, to stories of success by those who have gone on to have second careers after retirement.

"This expo is all about helping people realize there's no better time than the present to start planning for their lives after retirement," said Roberta Baker, the primary reporter for the Union Leader/Sunday News' Silver Lining series.

"There is no reason to think of retirement as the start of old age; it is the start of a whole new active life."

Silver Linings is a continuing report focusing on the issues of New Hampshire's aging population and seeking solutions for problems facing senior citizens. For more information, visit

Jan Soderquest, left, of Goffstown talks Saturday with Lauren Robinson, president of Home Care Assistance, and Don Khoury, vice president of Home Care Assistance, at Manchester Community College. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)

Dartmouth-Hitchcock was the lead sponsor of the expo. Supporting sponsors were AARP New Hampshire, Anthem Inc., Benchmark Communities and the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester.

Partner sponsors were the Ambrogi Law Office,  Home Instead Senior Care, Visiting Angels, Elliot Health System, McHugh Funeral Home, Aurora Senior Living of Derry, Ascentria In Home Care and Ledgewood Bay at Milford.

"I think when people share their personal experiences with others there is an identification that folks have which is important, and this also allows them to ask relevant questions in the future," said Baker, who moderated the panel about the "second act," when seniors take on new careers.

"Everyone needs help in dealing with the retirement journey."

Sue Gosselin of Manchester has worked in the field of providing help to seniors and looked forward to meeting with peers doing the same.

"You can always learn new ways to improve that advocacy; that's what brought me here," she said.

Linda Metcalf, also of Manchester, said she wanted to be at the talks about recovering from knee and ankle joint replacement procedures.

"I want to get more exercise. I need to get into better shape since I broke my leg a few years ago. I'm getting to that age if you don't use muscles you lose them," Metcalf said.

"I'm looking forward to the sessions on physical therapy and also decluttering as well."

Attendees left the expo with bags of giveaways and information. The free gifts ranged from chocolate kisses and raffle chances to free pens, pads of paper and tote bags.

Sandy Hilyard of Manchester said she went to last year's event and this one was better organized.

"I loved the breakfast they had laid out for folks; we all need nourishment," Hilyard said.

"I have lived alone for a long time and I am quite independent so this conference is really helpful to me so that I am aware of all the services that are available to people like me."

"This is very beneficial," she said.

Baker said many workers later in life fail to appreciate how important it is to prepare for life after the conclusion of their first career.

"Until they are retired, folks don't often fully appreciate that work is such a defining thing for them. It's their identity, their social life. They often end up having to scurry around to try and figure out what to do next," Baker said.

"This expo is about giving folks food for thought that help them get ready for life's next stage."

Geri Silva of Auburn mistakenly put on a tie instead of a shawl during a Virtual Dementia Tour offered by Senior Helpers of the Greater Seacoast during the Silver Linings: Senior Healthy Living Expo on Saturday at Manchester Community College. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)

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