It’s not a secret. People come to this area to retire. From Pennsylvania, to Baltimore, to Washington, D.C., people flock to the Delaware Coast to live out their lives next to sandy beaches and with a considerably shorter drive to get to those shores.
Because of the extensive migration, the Delaware Coast boasts a larger elderly population than do most places in this country.
People 65 and older, for instance, make up about 39 percent of Bethany Beach’s population, compared to the only about 12 percent of the national population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. More than 27 percent of the population of Ocean View is made up of people aged 65 or older.
CHEER recognizes those facts. For more than 30 years, the senior services organization has served Sussex County’s elderly population by providing them with places to socialize with peers, transportation, food, emergency services, health tests and information and more. And from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, May 5, the Roxana CHEER Community Center on Route 20 will continue the tradition when it holds its 32nd annual CHEER health fair.
“Our goal is to help the seniors to get free testing, get information,” said Roxana CHEER center director Jackie Walters, adding that the health fair is geared toward citizens ages 50 and older but the center won’t turn anyone away. “We want to help seniors in any way that we can,” she said.
Lunch is the only part of next Friday’s event that will cost the attendees any money – and that will only cost $2.50, Walters said. CHEER officials will offer diabetes screenings on the day of the event — assisted by In-home Services — and blood pressure screenings.
Officials from the Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will attend the event to offer rectal screenings and Beebe Medical Center employees will travel from Lewes to offer bone density testing.
And doctors and assistants from Halpern Eye Associates in Millville will be on hand to screen elderly area residents for vision problems, including glaucoma.
In addition to the free screenings, there will also be information provided by health experts at adjacent informational boots.
Those manning the booths will include officials from Nemours, Delaware Hospice, Quality Insight of Delaware, the Wellness Community of Delaware, Delaware Medicare Fraud Alert, Delaware Prescription Assistance and Delaware Medical Supply.
Employees from First State Community Action will also give local seniors information on obtaining jobs.
“Every year, the community has been really great about supporting the senior center and seniors in general,” Walters said. “A lot of volunteers come in and volunteer their time. They donate their time and their services.”
In 1971, the retired Rev. Milton Keene started a program, helping senior citizens ages 60 and older with personal care, housekeeping, preparing meals, providing them with companionship and transportation, according to CHEER’s Web site at www.scss.org.
Not long thereafter, Sussex County Senior Services, Inc./CHEER opened four nutrition centers in Sussex County, building on Keene’s dream, according to the site. Now, CHEER’s nutrition program serves 200,000 meals at nine nutrition centers and at homes across the county, the site reads.
A Delaware Department of Transportation grant also helped CHEER and the county’s seniors by allowing it to grow its transportation program. By offering its nutrition and transportation programs, combined with social activities and free health screenings such as the one on May 5, CHEER continues to show its dedication to the senior citizens of this county, both born and inherited.
To learn more about CHEER, visit its Web site at www.scss.org.