A health fair Friday in Mount Airy will be geared toward older local residents, while also focusing on a problem plaguing society as a whole: the abuse and misuse of prescription drugs.
Organizers of the annual Senior Health and Wellness Fair say that one of its highlights will be a station manned by Mount Airy Police Department where unused or unwanted medications can be dropped off by fair attendees.
The event, now in its 10th year, is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon Friday in the gymnasium of Reeves Community Center, sponsored by Mount Airy Parks and Recreation. It will feature health screenings and information for those 50 and older.
The emphasis on the drug issue reflects the ongoing problem with overdoses and the need to make sure dangerous substances don’t wind up in the wrong hands, explained Fonda Branch, family services supervisor with Mount Airy Parks and Recreation.
A key supply source for drugs is the senior citizen population, due to their tendency to be on a number of medications in some cases. This makes their homes targets for break-ins as well as grandchildren or others raiding elders’ medicine cabinets.
“I think it’s good that grandparents clean out their cabinets,” Branch said of disposing of pain killers or other items no longer needed, along with using lock boxes or other means to secure drugs in homes.
Although drug take-backs by city police are a regular part of the annual health fairs, she said this aspect is receiving extra attention this year due to the severity of the overdose problem.
Variety of exhibitors
Branch said the overall goal of Friday’s fair is simple: “To promote the health and wellness of older adults in our community — to let them become aware of all the services that are offered.”
This will be accomplished by the presence of around 30 agencies, including medical providers, businesses and other entities that cater to the senior population.
The event largely will involve an opportunity for seniors to receive information about services they might need, according to Branch.
Free health screenings also will be offered Friday, including blood pressure checks by Northern Hospital of Surry County and blood sugar testing by Surry Community Health and Rehabilitation Center.
Other organizations to be represented at the event include Surry County Health and Nutrition Center, assisted-living facilities and others.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.