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Solutions for Senior Living: ‘I Know Expo’ returns to Lexington Center in April

by Kim Thomas

It has been estimated that 60,000 members of the baby boomer generation turn 60 every day in the U.S. That creates a large group of seniors who are enjoying their golden years, but who also might be struggling with the health and medical and financial challenges that often accompany aging.

An estimated 70,000+ baby boomers live in Fayette County and are preparing to deal with what aging successfully will mean to them, and to their parents. The Sandwich Generation is often caught in between caring for elders and raising children simultaneously.

p17_IKnowExpoThe “i know expo” was created to address issues like these in a one-stop-shopping format, in the form of a one-day expo. This year’s event will be held April 3 in the Bluegrass Ballroom in the Lexington Center.

The answer to many problems and adjustments encountered by seniors and the ones who love them will be addressed by the exposition’s exhibitors and speakers. The good news is that the (free admission) i know expo can help folks young and old plan for the future with more confidence.

Friends my age are becoming more forgetful and fear accompanies that — fear of losing their keys or their memory or their car or driving privileges — fear that can be paralyzing in some cases. Fear doesn’t have to be a part of the aging process, but careful planning does, and there are resources available to help.

The expo will showcase products such as health solutions, financial services, personal care services including homemaking, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, skilled nursing and home health aid services, health education and counseling services and many more related products and services, etc., in the Medical and Pharmaceutical, Business Services industries.

The Expo’s mission is to arm you with what you need to know to plan for the future: care for someone you love, live with disabilities, age with joy and grace.

This expo is the brainchild of Gale Reece, founder, who says it all started with transportation issues. “The i know expo grew out of ITNBluegrass. Independent Transportation Network — dignified transportation for seniors. In 2006, I began the effort to start the local affiliate of the national private non-profit for senior transportation.”

“Today ITNBluegrass is the 4th oldest active affiliate in the country. We passed the 40,000 ride mark in 6.5 years of matching volunteers and our senior members for rides in Fayette County. The paid and volunteer drivers use their own private cars to transport those 60+ and visually impaired adults who are members of the organization,” (members pay a modest annual fee). “We successfully had Kentucky legislation changed to allow drivers to use their own insurance when driving seniors for a non-profit.”

Through the years, Reece began to notice requests for additional information about senior services from the families of members to Ride Coordinators and the Executive Director. Accordingly, Reece devised the idea of a one day, one place expo for information and services in the community. She adds, “Our target audience is adult children of frail elders (generally working women between 45 – 70), those caring for loved ones with disabilities and all in my Boomer generation (72,000 in Fayette County), who should be preparing for our own aging situations.”

Accommodating such a large and growing population is a challenge. Reece points out, “This is why we hold it on Sunday afternoons — for those working folks to come out and get more information in a few hours than they could in hours on the phone and/or internet. The first expo was April of 2013.” In the first two years, the expo had 750-1000 people through the doors, 60-80 exhibitors and more than 20 speakers on everything from legal, financial, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, caregiving, care for the caregiver, aging in place, home adaptations,, etc.

Reece emphasizes that in addition to the annual expo, there are also Sunday Sessions. “Four times per year, at the Lexington Seniors Center, we present one of the topics of interest in the aging/disability area.”

p17_IKnowExpo2The Expo’s sponsors and partners have been an integral part of the organization’s growing popularity. “From the first planning in 2012, Fayette County’s major senior organizations joined us in the effort. Sanders Brown Center for Aging at the University of Kentucky, the Mayor’s Commission for Citizens with Disabilities (and the aging dept.), the Area Agency on Aging and Independent Living (state and federal programs) joined ITNBlugrass in putting this event together. AARP has been a major sponsor from the beginning. Last year, UKHealthCare was a presenting sponsor. Our goal from the beginning is to reach citizens not already plugged into Social Services and confused about what is available for aging well and living with disabilities or as a caregiver.”

The i know expo® is a FREE event, Noon TO 5 pm, at the Bluegrass Ballroom in the Lexington Center. The expo is for people of all ages and life stages: living out their golden years; taking care of someone they love; coping with difficult health situations or simply smart enough to know it’s never too early to start planning for the future. Scores of experts who know about aging well and coping with disabilities will be on hand to share what they know. Chat with them one-on-one or attend informative presentations on everything from housing, healthcare and insurance, to legal and financial planning, to living well and staying active and learn what is available and accessible to you here in the community we live in.

This article also appears on page 17 of the March 2016 printed edition of the Hamburg Journal. 

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