Eight years ago, Bruce Williams noticed a lack of help for LGBT seniors to get information on Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs) that wouldn’t discriminate based on sexual orientation. His small project turned into the Senior Health Expo and has become one of the largest events hosted by The Pride Center at Equality Park.
While volunteering at The Pride Center in 2010, Williams recognized that there weren’t enough providers that LGBT seniors were aware they could take advantage of. Now, as the Senior Services Coordinator, Williams helps organize the Expo every year, from booking the exhibitors that sell out to promoting the event to hundreds of locals.
“What started out as a project years ago to find out if there were any LGBT-friendly and culturally competent providers in our area has mushroomed into a gathering that boasts over 60 businesses,” he says. “[The expo] drew a crowd [last] year of over 700 LGBT adults, and serves as a fun-filled opportunity to get to know our many community resources.”
Space is limited to 60 vendors and sold out months before the expo. Many vendors book immediately after the fall event ends to ensure they get space for the next year, even as prices and dates haven’t even been set.
While vendors are clamoring for space, attendees don’t have to worry about any reservations. It’s free and open to anyone who wants to come. Admissions and parking are free, with snacks from Stork’s Bakery and a lunch sponsored by Broward Health.
“Vendors who are eager to serve our LGBT Boomers and Seniors provide valuable information on senior living facilities, home health care resources, legal information and an assortment of other areas affecting our community, family and friends,” Williams says. “The expo typically offers flu shots, blood pressure screening and testing for hearing, cholesterol, glucose, HIV and more.”
Williams says that one of the biggest struggles for people is dealing with aging. So, he said, it’s best to prepare for it.
“With aging, when you prepare ahead of time, it’s so much easier,” he said. “When you find yourself in the hospital with a new hip, you’ll be prepared and won’t find yourself facing discharge without a clue of what to do.”
But that’s because we aren’t prepared for aging like we should be, Williams said.
“As a society, we deal with addressing our second 50 years on a crisis-only basis,” Williams said. “Our Boomer/Senior Expo gives folks the opportunity to enjoy a day with friends and family and at the same to address and to prepare for a number of challenges that are a normal part of the aging process. Folks today are living longer and healthier than ever before in history.”
Seniors — along with caretakers, family, and friends — are encouraged to attend the Oct. 20 event. As seniors are living longer than ever, the needs of these services will only grow. Which means the expo will continue to grow — both in attendance and importance.
“Folks who are in their fifties today can well expect to live to be a healthy 100 years old,” Williams said. “We need [to] address certain areas during our first 50 years to ensure that our second 50 years are full of life.”
Boomer/Senior Health Expo
Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018
10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
The Pride Center
2040 N. Dixie Highway
Wilton Manors, FL 33305
Admission, parking, lunch and snacks are all free.