As an 85-year-old widow, I enjoy socializing and sharing my time and talent with the community. Although I’m far into my golden years, volunteering has helped me stay young at heart and given me a true sense of purpose.

If you’re a senior looking for more ways to stay healthy and connect with the people around you, check out the Health and Longevity Expo on Thursday, March 2, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Nineteenth Century Club in Oak Park (free admission). I attended last year and am excited to participate again this March. You’ll find dozens of vendors sharing valuable information for seniors in a one-stop shopping venue. Last year, I learned about a wide range of in-home services and housing options — from low-cost alternative housing to retirement centers with assisted living options.

The Expo also has vendors such as the local libraries, the YMCA and the Senior Citizens Center of Oak Park, offering numerous ways to keep our bodies and minds active and healthy as we age. I also enjoy the convenience of getting a health screening and talking to knowledgeable health-care providers from Rush Oak Park Hospital without having to drive all over town.

A large body of research shows a strong link between social interaction and the mental and physical health of seniors — and I am living proof of this. Each week I look forward to volunteering at the local Economy Shop, playing bridge with friends and giving time at the Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio. I’m convinced that all these activities have helped me stay mentally sharp and physically strong and mobile. Plus, it lifts my spirit to know that I’m making a difference in the community where I live. I’m also a board member of the Senior Citizens Center of Oak Park and enjoy planning activities for my peers.

The problem for most seniors is they have no idea where to start looking for volunteer opportunities or clubs where they can socialize and meet new people. That’s why the Health and Longevity Expo is a godsend for seniors and their families. It’s an ideal opportunity to learn about community activities or research living arrangements for older adults. 

If you’re a senior looking for more fulfillment and a sense of belonging, don’t miss this year’s Health and Longevity Expo.

Donna Ambrose is a board member of the Senior Citizens Center of OP-RF.

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