Seniors from throughout the Rio Grande Valley will have an opportunity to learn more about a variety of health topics at the 1st Annual Senior Health Summit on Friday, September 25th at the Palm View Community Center in McAllen.

This event is being sponsored and spearheaded by the McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Among some of the health issues discussed will be Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression and anxiety. The presentations and workshops will be conducted in both English and Spanish.

Chronic conditions, such as those covered at the Summit, affect millions of elderly Americans. To maintain optimum wellness, it’s important to be informed and be proactive to recognize early symptoms.

Depression is one of the health issues being addressed at the Summit. Because the symptoms may be different than they are for the younger populations, it may go undiagnosed. For example, seniors may not complain of feeling sad, but instead experience anxiety, pacing, or worsening of physical ailments such as arthritis, or headaches. They may also assume that lack of energy is automatically attributed to age. Obsessing about finances or health is also common. Research also shows that anxiety affects 20 percent of seniors. It can become chronic.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “As many as 5.3 million people in the United States are living with Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s and dementia triple healthcare costs for Americans age 65 and older. Every 70 seconds, someone develops Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is the seventh-leading cause of death.” An educational program about Parkinson’s is part of the Summit’s agenda. The National Parkinson’s Foundation states, “Parkinson’s disease affects both men and women in almost equal numbers. It shows no social, ethnic, economic or geographic boundaries. In the United States, it is estimated that 60,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, joining the 1 million Americans who currently have Parkinson’s disease. While the condition usually develops after the age of 65, 15% of those diagnosed are under 50. Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder. It occurs when certain nerve cells (neurons) in a part of the brain called the substantia nigra die or become impaired. Normally, these cells produce a vital chemical known as dopamine. Dopamine allows smooth, coordinated function of the body’s muscles and movement. When approximately 80 percent of the dopamine-producing cells are damaged, the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease appear.” Along with the workshops, a complimentary lunch will be provided with entertainment provided by a mariachi music group. At the end of the educational program, there will be a bingo game with plenty of door prizes.

This is also an opportunity to get some assistance with the myriad of information and plan options offered by Medicare. Representatives from the Centers on Medicare and Medicaid are participating.

Congressman Ruben Hinojosa and Congressman Henry Cuellar are honorary co-chairs of the Senior Health Summit. “I extend an invitation to all senior citizens to participate in this year’s Senior Health Summit and take advantage of the information that will be readily available. Representatives from agencies such as Medicare, Medicaid, and other health-related organizations will be there to answer all your questions,” said Congressman Henry Cuellar. “The well-being of my constituents in the 28th Congressional District is an issue I take very seriously, and I am proud to serve as the Honorary Co-Chair together with my colleague Ruben Hinojosa and bring these services closer to you.”

“The Summit will provide a unique opportunity for our senior citizens to learn more about changes to Medicare and Social Security and direct any questions they have to government agencies and health organizations in attendance,” said Congressman Rubén Hinojosa. “We can vastly improve the overall well-being and quality of life of our seniors by ensuring that they have the proper resources at their fingertips.”

I encourage my readers to attend. Have your concerns heard by your elected representatives. Come prepared with your questions for the presenters. This is an opportunity to be more informed and to have a voice.

The location for the Senior Health Summit is the Palm View Community Center in McAllen. It is located at the corner 3401 Jordan Road and Ware Road (two lights south of the expressway) in McAllen.

There is limited seating and therefore registration is required. Call the McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce at 956-928-0060 for more information or to register.

Mary Garza Cummings is a freelance writer. The Town Crier does not warrant the information as valid. It is the responsibility of the reader to ensure validity of the information. If you have questions or comments, email askseniorfocus@aol.com.