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Health and Financial Fitness Expo spotlights caregivers in Brooklyn

Taking care of yourself before taking care of others was the theme of last week’s Health and Financial Fitness Expo held at the Dyker Beach Golf Course on Friday, November 4.

Kicking the weekend off with an important spotlight on senior health and wellness, the Home Reporter and Brooklyn Spectator presented the well-attended event, which featured a slew of important exhibitors within Brooklyn’s health sector, screenings, a panel discussion and tons of great raffle prizes.

“I’m so happy that we were able to bring together this wonderful gathering to inform you, educate you and prepare you,” said Home Reporter and Brooklyn Spectator Co-Publisher Victoria Schneps at the event. “I do want to personally thank you all for being here today and our sponsors EmblemHealth, AdvantageCare Physicians, Aetna, AgeWell, Centers Plan for Healthy Living, our North Shore LIJ family; these people are the ones who made it possible for us to be here and to be inspired.”

Keeping with the theme of inspiration, Gregory L. Johnson, senior advisor for family caregiving with EmblemHealth, was the day’s keynote speaker on the topic of “Care for the Family Caregiver.”

“About 20 years ago, EmblemHealth came to me and said they wanted to bring attention to the silent patients, the family caregivers,” Johnson said. “And that was very revolutionary. As a clergy person, I’ve frankly buried more caregivers than care recipients. So, the last 20 years have been exciting because Emblem has led the way and under our present CEO and President

Karen Ignagni, who is a very forward-thinking and passionate person, the enormous value of family caregivers is [being seen].”

Care of the self, like Johnson so wisely detailed, was simple to inquire about at the expo, where attendees were able to meet with exhibitors about important insurance information, their home care needs, and different plans available to them.
Other subjects discussed included diabetes, Medicare insurance, Medicaid eligibility and qualifications, HMO for healthy living, and maximizing the health and wellness benefits of Medicare Advantage plans.

“The most important thing to remember is that our seniors are very savvy, but although a lot of people have access to digital information, information and knowledge are two different things,” said Rosemarie Mandart-Murray, an admissions community liaison with Silver Lake Specialized Care Center. “You can never replace the human contact that we’re having here today at this expo. Silver Lake has been doing this for over four decades and we’re based in Staten Island but we’re here to serve the Brooklyn community.”

“It’s basically about educating the seniors about what programs are out there to help them when they’re facing a critical situation,” added Roberto Garcia, North Shore LIJ’s director of government sales and outreach. “I think it’s apparent that events like this bring out that information and educate the community and let them know exactly what programs are available that might qualify them to get the services that they need on a day-to-day basis, the way they should.”

Michelle Francis, manager of business development with AgeWell New York, also weighed in on why expos like this are important.

“The point of these events is that it’s something that brings the community together,” Francis explained. “Here, they have access to different providers to whom they can ask questions and basically get more information to follow up in the near future.”

The day’s long list of health promoting exhibitors included AARP 3630, AARP 5055, AdvantageCare Physicians, Aetna Insurance, AgeWell, Centers Plan for Healthy Living, the Department for the Aging, EmblemHealth, GuildNet, Island Shores, Liberty Hearing Centers, NYSERDA, North Shore LIJ, Perri Funding Corp., Pro Health Urgent Care, Q1 Financial Strategies, Silver Lake Care Center, United Health Care, UrgentWay and Village Care Max.

“It’s ultimately the caregiver who does so much of the work,” Johnson explained to this paper. “There are nearly 40 million caregivers in America today and the value of what they do, free of charge, is over $500 billion – that’s more than Medicare and Medicaid put together. And I’m so grateful that EmblemHealth had the wisdom to look at a group of people who were not being looked after, because it’s so easy when you’re doing the caregiving to forget you.”

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