WEST BURLINGTON — It wasn't a fire sale that drew a large crowd of senior citizens to Westland Mall Thursday; it was the 60+ Lifestyle Expo.
Fifty-eight tables representing southeast Iowa's healthcare resources nearly spanned the length of the mall corridor.
"It's about bringing information to seniors and caregivers," said Peggy Dykes, Milestones Area Agency on Aging communications director.
Milestones and Great River Health Systems organize the health fair each year. This was the fourth year the two teamed up since Southeast Iowa Area Agency on Aging became Milestones in 2013.
Several area residential care facilities and rehabilitation services were among the many health sectors represented, offering multiple options under one roof. Also there were public health resources, such as the YMCA, the Burlington Public Library, Des Moines County Living Well and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
At the far south end of the mall, Brian Bauer, a neurodiagnostic technician at Great River Sleep Disorder Center, stood at a table atop which sat two types of CPAP masks, which are designed to help people breathe more easily during sleep.
"As people get older, a lot of times their sleep does get more fragmented," Bauer explained.
This can be caused by factors such as snoring, obstructive sleep apnea and restless limb syndrome. CPAP — continuous positive airway pressure — therapy is the standard treatment for sleep apnea, though there are several surgical options as well.
"(CPAP) allows the brain to cycle through all the different stages of sleep, making you feel more refreshed in the morning," he said.
Those attending also had the opportunity to get flu shots from Des Moines County Public Health and an assortment of screenings, including diabetic foot, blood oxygen and lung function and balance, from several Great River Health Systems departments.
Many seniors took a break from perusing the tables to sit along the benches beneath the large clock in the center of the corridor, where they mingled with neighbors and old friends.
Volunteer Bert Prier of West Burlington greeted people as they arrived. He didn't have brochures on hand or offer any kind of screening. Instead, he was giving out free hugs.
"They call me Bert the hugger," Prier said. "Laughter and hugs are good for you."
"Another good advantage is meeting with friends," Dykes said.
Howard Stout saw numerous familiar faces, though that's nothing new for the lifelong Burlington resident, his wife, Joyce Stout, said while enjoying a small cup of Greek yogurt she got from the nearby Milestones Area on Aging Agency table. The Greek yogurt has half the sodium as regular yogurt, she explained.
"When you have high blood pressure, you have to look out for that," Joyce Stout said.