Swing into Spring Event Offers Senior Resources - TribPapers

Swing into Spring Event Offers Senior Resources

The 2nd Annual Swing into Spring. Photo provided by Aging Projects Inc.

Hendersonville – Seniors have a chance to explore resources for aging in their homes and communities with the Swing into Spring active aging expo at Blue Ridge Mall on Thursday, May 16 from 10 AM-2 PM. There is no cost to attend the flagship event of Aging Projects, Inc. (API).

Swing into Spring is designed to encourage seniors and caregivers to familiarize themselves with the resources they need to stay healthy and engaged in their communities. Over 400 attendees are expected.

“Social isolation is a huge issue for the senior population. We want to encourage social interaction,” said Aging Projects Inc. president and CEO Jim Kelly.

Kelly says Swing into Spring is not a typical informational event, with presenters sitting behind tables. He encourages attendees to expect a high-energy, interactive event. Local sports teams will serve as motivational speakers and keep the energy up. Attendees can participate in health screenings, interactive demonstrations, and learn about hobbies, exercise options, and volunteer opportunities.

Presenters include a range of service providers featured on API’s online directory such as The Greens at Hendersonville rehab facility, Forest Law Group estate planning, and Care Solutions mobility center. BR Elder Adventure, a new organization which designs excursions specifically for seniors and their caregivers, will also be on hand.

For the first time, Hendersonville Council on Aging is a co-host of the event along with API, offering the opportunity for more collaborative partnerships according to Kelly. “Everyone at this event has a genuine interest in helping out seniors.”

The not-for-profit Aging Partners Inc. has hosted the Swing into Spring event as a tool to help people age at home in Henderson County. API founder Kelly has a background in estate planning and home care for seniors. He saw a need for a tool to easily find vetted, local resources for those who were aging. Focus groups, including area hospitals, professionals, and organizations like the Council on Aging helped hone in on the organization’s mission, vision, and goals to be most effective.

Launched in 2009, API’s online directory of resources for seniors and caregivers remains at the heart of the organization’s services. Users can select from 14 categories of services ranging from advocacy and legal services to medical care, transportation or social opportunities. Within each category, the website lists providers and provides contact information. Though providers are screened, Kelly encourages API users to do their own due diligence.

As the project grew, API became a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization and began offering the Swing into Spring event and an annual conference every September. “Some people come every year to these events,” said Kelly. “They’re amazed at the topics, and they’re genuinely thankful for the resources.”

“Our goal is to become a model to age in place, not just for Western North Carolina but the whole country,” said Kelly. He has presented to Stanford Medical and other major organizations.

Kelly sees API as a resource even for those who aren’t yet looking for services. “We want to increase their knowledge so they’re aware of what they need to know down the road and they’re prepared as they age.”

Kelly serves as president and CEO of the organization which is led by a Board of Directors to guide program decisions. The Board is made up of “those who have a true calling and passion for helping people age in place,” said Kelly.

Kelly noted the challenges facing area residents as they age. There’s a need for geriatricians in the area, experts who can address the variety of issues associated with aging. He also noted the lack of transportation and affordable housing, and additional funding for organizations addressing these challenges.

As an example of a positive development, Kelly touted changes in downtown Hendersonville, with fewer curbs making the sidewalks safer and more accessible for those with mobility issues. He also said community engagement and proactive organizations like Land of Sky and the Council on Aging were the key to lasting change. “Everyone is aware of these issues and we’re trying to work on it.”

The resource directory and information on upcoming events is available at www.agingprojectsinc.org.