2007-05-03 / Community

Senior Expo provides options for elderly

By Stephanie Bertholdo bertholdo@theacorn.com

Vicky Leary, 77, has a decision to make. Should she eventually move in with one of her children who live in the Midwest, or when the time comes, should she consider home care or assisted living in Agoura Hills, the city she has called home for decades?

The experts who appeared April 17 at the 10th Annual Senior Expo at the Agoura Hills/ Calabasas Community Center presented some options to Leary and about 300 other guests.

Leary, a former mayor of Agoura Hills, enjoyed the day. She and her friend Mary Deuter collected information on home care and assisted living and examined a variety of services designed for the senior set.

Deuter even won a door prize- a $25 gift certificate to a local movie theater.

Sixtysix vendors displayed their goods and services in the gymnasium and were available to answer questions.

Rebecca Rule, director of client services for Darancare Corp., a nursing, home care and health care company based in Camarillo, offered guests information on the company's durable medical supplies loaner program.

The company offers free medical equipment to low income seniors for up to two years, from walkers and wheelchairs to hospital beds and raised toilets, she said.

"We're here purely for the client," Rule said.

Several insurance companies and mortgage firms were on hand to provide information. Patti Dupree and Maxine Pryor of Skyline Funding talked to guests about the benefits of reverse mortgages.

Reverse mortgages allow "your house to work for you after you have worked so hard to keep your home," Dupree said. A reverse mortgage allows the owner to either draw monthly income from the home's accrued equity or secure a line of credit, she said. To obtain a reverse mortgage, the owner must be 62 or older and have equity in their home, Dupree said.

Brian Buss, owner of Tech Senior, showed guests how technology could improve their lives. He teaches seniors how to use computers, digital cameras and DVD players, plan a vacation on the Internet, "video chat" with grandchildren and feel comfortable with technology.

"I help (seniors) with any sort of gadget they have in the home," Buss said.

The Senior Expo was launched in 1997 by the city of Agoura Hills. Donna Conlin, Agoura Hills' recreation manager, said the city partnered with Calabasas in 2001, but wanted to create a regional event for 2007.

This year, the city of Westlake Village joined in, making the event bigger and better than in previous years, Conlin said.

"It's triple the size from last year," she said. She said the entire day was free to the public, including breakfast, lunch, medical screenings and a lecture by Mary Lins about reducing the risk of heart attack.

Xochitl Castillo, a community services coordinator with the Agoura Hills Recreation Center, said the collaborative effort among the three cities helped the expo grow.

"This is a great example of all three of our communities getting together to benefit the senior community," said John Edelston, an Agoura Hills City Council member.

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