For caregivers of people with memory issues, keeping their loved one in a safe space — whether it’s their home or a care facility — is vital to the person’s well-being. But the reality is that 6 in 10 people with dementia will wander away from that safe space at least once.

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Dear Savvy Senior,

I have heard that the VA has a benefit that can help veterans and spouses with long-term care costs. We recently had to move my 86-year-old father — who served in the Army nearly 60 years ago — into an assisted living facility, and my mom isn’t far behind. Can the VA help?

– Seeking Aid

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Ask a handful of people to describe what comes to mind when they hear the word “old.”

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In The Kitchen

Local Stories

New Holland resident Susan Cox initially came to Shady Maple Smorgasbord and Conference Center for the food — breakfast with friends, specifically. But she stayed for the 50plus EXPO.

Though it may not have been part of her original plans, once there, Cox decided to take advantage of the EXPO’s many offerings.

“I did get my hearing screening,” she said. “He’s a real audiologist. It was helpful; it was nice.”

Cox was just one of thousands of baby boomers, seniors, and caregivers who turned out for the recent Lancaster County 50plus EXPO (Spring), a free event providing information and resources for the area’s 50+ community.

More than 80 exhibitors displayed products and services in housing, medical services, nutrition, home improvements, finances, healthcare, and more during the one-day EXPO, hosted by OLP Events.

“This absolutely hits our target audience,” exhibitor Michael Fiaschetti, president of MediPlanConnect, said of the event. “They’re very well run and very well attended, so we are able to reach a whole lot of people in a very short period of time in a really nice environment.”

Students from Lancaster School of Cosmetology pampered the hands and fingernails of visitors eager for a free mini manicure. Attendees were also eligible for door prizes and took advantage of free health screenings for balance, hearing, flexibility, and others.

“What I’ve seen so far is very good,” attendee Carol Showalter, of Denver, said. “I’ve been to these [EXPOs] before, and there’s always a lot of useful information.”

The onstage entertainment began with a high-energy workout session led by Sally Winchell, wellness director at Bright Side Opportunities Center.

As about a dozen fitness enthusiasts from the center performed weight-bearing exercises set to music, Winchell emphasized the important of lifting weights to preserve muscle mass and balance. She added that with weight training, the body continues burning calories even after the workout is over.

Next, a panel of representatives from Landis Homes provided explanations of the levels of living offered within a continuing care retirement community — including independent living, personal care, rehab care, and more.

Rebekah Johnsen, Landis Homes’ director of residential living, discussed the differing reasons adults choose to move into a CCRC, including the benefits of having a built-in community.

“[Socialization] is important for all of us,” Johnsen said. “Some of us are naturally more social than others, but we all need it, and especially as we age, it’s important to have access to socialization, to friends and neighbors.”

Mark Layton, wildlife center director at Refreshing Mountain, presented a variety of live reptiles and amphibians for the audience to view, including a blue-tongued skink, a spotted salamander, a yellow spiny-tailed lizard, and a box turtle more than 50 years old.

Amphibians absorb moisture and drink through their skin, making them what scientists call indicator species, Layton said, “because they’re a good indication of what we’re doing to our waterways and our environment.

“If you see a little pond and it doesn’t have any frogs or salamanders in it … that could be an indication of a lot of manmade toxins and pollutants going into there.”

While holding a black rat snake, Layton assured the audience that Pennsylvania’s native snakes are not prone to biting unprovoked.

“In the U.S., almost every single snake bite happens because someone tried to pick it up,” Layton said.

Next, Nadia Sharifi, owner of TrimLine Weight Loss & Wellness, educated EXPO guests on ways to burn fat and gain control over emotional/stress eating by adopting a tailored food plan.

Sharifi stressed that through nutritional management, it is possible to prevent the need for medications to control a range of health conditions or to come off medications already being taken.

Finally, Pam McNeal, cake decorating supervisor at Shady Maple Farm Market, demonstrated simple techniques to create party cakes in various animal shapes using candy, fruit, and cookies as detailing. McNeal also showed guests how to accentuate a simple sheet cake with piped flowers.

OLP Events’ next 50plus EXPO will be Wednesday, June 5, at Church Farm School, 1001 E. Lincoln Highway, Exton.

For more information, call (717) 285-1350 or visit

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