OXFORD, Miss. – While planning for retirement is common, preparing for aging is often overlooked or, in some instances, thought of too late. To provide information and support services on aging and caregiving, the Caring for Aging Relatives Effectively Fair is set for 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday (March 9) in the Student Union Lobby. The 10th annual C.A.R.E. Fair is free and open to the public. It features information on topics such as retirement communities, community caregiver support groups, long-term care insurance, aging-in-place home design and recreational programming designed for adults ages 50 and older.
“I think over the years it’s become more apparent that people are very much in need of aging and caregiving information, especially with the growing older population,” said Jo Ann O’Quin, professor of social work and C.A.R.E. Fair organizer. “One of the most common issues I see is that people wait until there is a crisis with themselves or their family before they seek resources and information, and sometimes this leads to excessive stress. “The C.A.R.E. Fair offers a wide range of aging and caregiving information to the community and is especially valuable for young to middle-aged adults, people who will be dealing with their own aging issues or their aging relatives.” The number of Mississippians who face the issue of aging is on the rise, as the percentage of residents age 65 and older is expected to increase to 20.5 percent of the population by 2030, more than double the 12.1 percent reported in 2000, according to the Administration on Aging. For Oxford resident Donna Toole, this issue is very real. Toole’s mother and father live in the Azalea Gardens Retirement Community, and both require heightened levels of care. Toole has attended the C.A.R.E. Fair in the past, and views the event as a way to seek resources and support. “It’s a wealth of information all in one place,” Toole said. “It’s a place people can go even if they’re not in this situation yet, or if they’re just beginning. It would give participants a lot of resources and help them find out what’s available locally. That’s the biggest thing – people not knowing where to turn.” O’Quin said that among the people who are most likely to need this information are individuals from age 40 to 65. The university alone has more than 1,900 permanent and temporary employees who fall into that age category. However, the C.A.R.E. Fair is beneficial to anyone seeking information about aging or caring for those who are older. Among the exhibitors is Leisure Lifestyles, a program created by the Oxford Park Commission and the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program to provide leisure and recreational outlets such as line dancing, yoga, genealogy classes, camping and tabletop games to aging community members. “What we emphasize is physical, social, mental and cognitive well-being,” said Deb Helms, director of Leisure Lifestyles. “We’re promoting social integration, health and wellness. It’s all about staying healthy and active.” Other exhibitors include the Three Rivers Area Agency on Aging, Azalea Gardens Retirement Community, Hermitage Gardens of Oxford, Memory Makers Respite Day Program, Mid-South Transplant Foundation, Alzheimer’s Association, Legacy Hospice of the South, North Mississippi Hospice of Oxford, Christopher’s Personal Care Home, MidSouth Financial Group, Retired Senior Volunteer Program, North Mississippi Rural Legal Services, UM Speech and Hearing Center, Fixin’ to Stay and Sitters, LLC. Visitor parking is available in the Circle. Attendees can also ride Oxford-University Transit buses. The C.A.R.E. Fair is sponsored by UM and the Council on Aging. For more information on the C.A.R.E. Fair, visit http://www.olemiss.edu/carefair.