OCEANSIDE — Oceanside said “hurray for seniors!” at the 14th annual Senior Expo at El Corazon Senior Center on Oct. 8. The all-day event featured food, entertainment, senior services, clubs, and sports leagues.
Sixty vendors shared goods and services geared towards the 50 and older crowd.
“Vendors range from health care to fun options for seniors and information on programs, goods and services,” said Pam Montenez, recreation supervisor.
The family oriented event included active options for younger seniors just hitting their 50s.
The baby boomer generation is also a focus of the El Corazon Senior Center and Country Club Senior Center. While veteran seniors enjoy card games and entertainment, younger seniors are requesting fitness instruction and enrichment classes.
“We have an expanding senior demographics,” Montenez said. “To meet their needs we’re offering active exercise classes and more health and wellness offerings. Education, arts and entertainment are quiet big with new seniors.”
Young seniors often have the responsibility of caring for their aging parents so the senior centers offer classes and support in aged care.
The senior centers continue to cater to older seniors as well, who are less mobile, but still enjoy camaraderie and activities with their peers. To keep veteran seniors connected and healthy, senior centers offer bingo, pinochle and bridge games, health screenings and lunch programs.
“We ask seniors what they want and need and change to meet their needs,” Montenez said. “We’re connected with a very large senior community. The two centers are full all day long.”
Longtime senior center volunteer, 85-year-old Viessa Lyons-Ferrell, was honored at the Senior Expo as senior of the year for her decades of work helping fellow seniors, children and veterans. She volunteers for so many organizations that her family jokes that she’s going to work when she leaves for her daily volunteer duties.
One of her passions is helping seniors. Lyons-Ferrell puts in over 16 hours a week helping to oversee senior nutrition programs and putting in hands on time preparing hot meals that are delivered to the homebound.
She said health and nutrition are not the only worries of seniors. Transportation and housing are also concerns for many.
“Seniors have problems with housing, rent, care of home,” Lyons-Ferrell said. “I try to help them solve the problem or put them in touch with the right resource.”
As a Kiwanis Club member, Lyons-Ferrell has helped with children identification fingerprinting that takes fingerprints for family records in case they are needed in an emergency.
She also collects gently used books to distribute to veterans clinics and convalescent homes.
“I’m totally involved in helping people,” Lyons-Ferrell said. “I feel I’ve accomplished something, solved a problem and earned brownie points.”
Lyons-Ferrell encourages fellow seniors to stay active and help others.