AARP's "Staying Sharp" presentations on brain fitness and financial fraud have always been popular around the state, but for 2014 we decided to add break-out sessions on topics that our state research showed were of particular interest to Utahns 50+. The topics added for these additional presentations included how to stay active for life; an overview of wills and living trusts; eating healthy; how to maximize Social Security benefits, and how to make your home fit your needs.
Our first Real Possibilities University (RPU) was in St. George, held during the Huntsman World Senior Games for which we were a sponsor. The October 8 event included a presentation by Dr. Kevin Duff of the University of Utah's Brain Institute discussing ways to determine if memory loss is normal or problematic; how to decrease the chances of developing dementia; and how the combination of social, cognitive and physical activity can lead to improved brain health.
Keith Woodwell, Director of the Utah Division of Securities, provided information about common scams in Utah and how to avoid them; how to spot red flags of fraud; and how to check if a broker-dealer or investment advisor is properly licensed or has a background that may be questionable.
Local experts from St. George, including Utah State University and the Red Rock Center for Independence, presented the break-out session material, and attendees had the opportunity to attend two of the four sessions given. A light meal was also served, and each participant was given materials on brain health and fitness. Nearly 200 people attended the event, held at the St. George Senior Center.
We found even greater success with the RPU in Draper, held at the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium on November 6. Dr. Duff and Mr. Woodwell provided the keynote presentations once again on brain fitness and financial fraud, while experts from the University of Utah, Salt Lake Community College and the private sector held the break-out sessions. The event was filled to capacity with over 300 people in attendance. A special treat was the opportunity to tour the Aquarium after-hours after the presentations were given. A light meal was provided as well as materials on brain fitness and research for participants to take home.
According to AARP Utah State Director Alan Ormsby, there is a reason these programs are so popular. He states, "Many people think AARP is just about discounts, be we offer programs and events on a host of topics to our members and the public alike. Our brain fitness programs are extremely popular as staying sharp into older age is a major concern of baby boomers. Financial fraud is a close second. People care about staying healthy and having financial security as they get older, and we are pleased to offer programs to help them do just that."
A poll taken of attendees of the RPU at the Aquarium showed just how popular these programs are, as 86 percent said they "strongly agreed" with the statement, "I was satisfied with my experience at this event." Nearly three-fourths of those responding to the poll plan to attend another AARP event in the future, would recommend AARP to family, friends, or co-workers, and now believe AARP is more relevant to their lives. AARP Utah strives to offer programs and events that appeal to people 50+ in the state, so these results underscore what our research showed about what matters to Utahns as they age. We're looking ahead to 2015 for additional RPU events and other programs that provide real possibilities for growth, information, and fun to people in Utah.