PLYMOUTH — The Silver Linings: Senior Healthy Living Expo headed north on Saturday to the Common Man Inn and Spa, where folks like Richard L’Heureux, of the Senior Companion Program, helped match senior citizens with the resources they need.
Silver Linings is an ongoing special report by the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News focusing on aging in New Hampshire and the challenges faced by older people and those who love and care for them. The Silver Linings: Senior Healthy Living Expo provides a forum for innovators, experts, advocates and care providers.
The first Silver Linings: Senior Healthy Living Expo was held in Manchester in 2017. The Manchester expo will return for its third year Sept. 28 at Manchester Community College.
Stephanie Baxter, the Union Leader’s events and public-relations manager, said feedback received during the first two expos in Manchester indicated there was a strong interest statewide, leading to the decision to hold one in Plymouth.
Baxter said attendance at the Plymouth expo, which was free and open to the public, was strong and included 30 vendors.
“We’re trying to open up the state to seniors and the services they need,” said Baxter, who added that attendees often seek information on assisted living, financial planning, home maintenance and travel.
She said Saturday’s expo launched many “meaningful connections” among attendees and vendors, as well as sponsors, which included the Senior Companion Program of Community Action Program of Belknap-Merrimack Counties Inc., Comfort Keepers, Cottage Hospital — Ray of Hope, and Visiting Angels.
Attendees were also able to sit in on presentations that included “Medicare 101,” “Caregiver keys: Navigating the Dementia Journey,” “Threats to Your Retirement Portfolio” and “Helpful Guide for the First Time Caregiver.”
Michele Lapierre, manager of the Senior Companion Program, said she and her organization “will attend any event where there’s seniors to tell them about what we do.”
Depending on who you talk to, New Hampshire is “the third oldest state in the country,” said Lapierre, and many senior citizens here are at risk for social isolation, cut off from not only basic human contact but the resources those contacts could provide.
For the past 13 years, L’Heureux, a volunteer with the Senior Companion Program, has done his part to keep seniors connected, including driving them to doctor’s appointments, playing cards “or whatever they need,” he said.
A retired salesman who plied his trade in California, L’Heureux, 87, is now a resident of Manchester.
He said the best part of being a Senior Companion Program volunteer is reflecting back on a day of service and recognizing the role he played in ensuring seniors got the assistance they needed.
After doing that, he said, “I can smile and fall asleep.”
Lapierre is hopeful she will receive calls from potential volunteers and clients she met at the Plymouth expo, including a younger couple she said is caring for a family member with dementia.