February 1, 2018

Creating a Gerontology-focused Health Fair

New CNHP ASU Logo 

by Jessica E. Camp, MSN, APRN, AGCNS; Addie N. Fleming, MNSc, RN, CCRN; Valerie Fielder, BS, CDP, and Samantha M. Hollis, BSN, RN, CDP
Edited by Dr. Susan Hanrahan and Dr. Linda Tate
Arkansas State University, UAMS Center on Aging Northeast & Schmieding Home Caregvier Training Program, St. Bernards Medical Center


The committee designed a health screening event for older adults, their caregivers, and professionals that provide care to older adults.  Northeast Arkansas has a large number of elderly, care givers, and a large variety of professional services. The event was designed to bring everyone together. It was planned for November to increase attendance by avoiding other area events and in conjunction with National Family Caregiver Month. The Fair gathered more than 200 patients and 90 vendors from the community. This article shares the successes of the event and the opportunities for next year.

Advisory Panel
The Center on Aging had a vision for the event. The mission and vision were shared with the team during recruitment and revisited at the initial meeting.  An advisory panel consisted of the many health professionals, community members, university faculty and leaders from services for older adults in the area was invited to participate.

Health Screenings
The local university, ASU, provided a great foundation for creating a health screening event.

The physical therapy department provided “timed up and go” (TUG) screenings aimed at identifying balance issues and risk for falling. Social work faculty provided anxiety and depression screenings. Communication Disorders students provided hearing screens in a private room.  Nursing students provided blood pressure checks, height, and weight and body mass index screenings.  Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet education was given verbally and in writing to persons at risk for or currently experiencing hypertension. Exercise, weight loss and the DASH diet can help control chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and diabetes, making it important information to share with older adults and their caregivers (Cash & Glass, 2015, p. 1047).

The Arkansas Department of Health provided vaccinations based on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for adults and older adults (Cash & Glass, 2015, pp.18-21). Hilltop Eye Care and Southern Eye Associates provided vision screenings and education on cataracts and glaucoma. St. Bernard’s Imaging Center conducted bone density screenings as well as total cholesterol, anemia, and glucose laboratory screenings. Higginbotham Family Dental provided dental screenings. Additional professionals were invited and provided services or information about services.

Transportation for the public was not available to the event. This was noted by some persons unable to attend as a barrier.  Requests to public transportation and local churches to enlist transportation assistance were not met.  For the 2018 event, negotiations are in process.

Some screening groups left before the event ended which participants complained about.  Critical conversations with the voluntary service professional groups will need to take place early in the planning of the 2018 event to ensure the professionals stay for the whole event, which could include shortening the event.

A secondary communication issue was not being able to hear announcements made at the event stage. With exciting activities such as the mayor’s appearance and a physician’s panel, it was difficult for the audience to hear anywhere past the first row of vendors. This is an opportunity that can be corrected for the 2018 Senior Expo (Larsen, 2018).

Health professionals, caregivers, and patients were targeted to receive education during the event. Several vendors voiced a desire to attend the planned educational sessions, but were unable because they were also manning a booth at the event. In post-event discussions, it was decided that a separate educational event targeting health professionals could be a solution.

While the volume of local vendors involved in the first annual event surpassed the goal, there were still challenges. Discussions with leaders of another local annual health fair shared tactics that prevented vendors from leaving their event early, such as imposing fines or not inviting them to future events.

In summary, these services met the needs of many older adults. Senior Health Fairs bring value to the intended audience. Targeted health fairs, such as this one, provide more opportunities for older adults to interact with health professionals in the community. With the success of the first event, the 2nd Annual UAMS Center on Aging Northeast’s Senior Expo is scheduled for November 9, 2018.



Cash, J. C. & Glass, C. A. (2016). Adult-gerontology practice guidelines. New York: Springer Publishing Company.

Larsen, P. (2018). Lubkin’s chronic illness: Impact and illness. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishing.

Rhoads, J. & Peterson, P. S. (2018). Advanced health assessment and diagnostic reasoning (3rd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.