Community wellness, health information and senior advocacy were the focus of the Jackson Square Skilled Nursing and Living Center’s kickoff of its monthly Senior Club at the center, 5130 W. Jackson, on May 2.

“The purpose of the club is to reach out and embrace the community and offer support to the seniors in the community to let them know we are there for them,” said Jeannette Fricano, Jackson’s director of marketing.

Fricano said Jackson’s facilities and resources are available to support the community in any way possible. The club is partnering with area hospitals, clinics, organizations and churches, including Methodist Christ, 5256 W. Chicago Ave, which conducts a weekly church service for Jackson’s residents and provides a free food and clothing giveaway to Austin community residents.

Representing Pastor Sylvia Staples, church administrator, evangelist Betty Howard said Methodist Christ offers Austin community senior residents many free services, including transportation to and from doctors’ visits.

The club will meet the first Wednesday of each month at 10 a.m. Membership is free and open to anyone who wishes to attend. In addition to health screenings, literature dissemination, door prizes, and refreshments, guest speakers will present on topics of interests to seniors and community members. Dr. Leonard Stallings, Jackson’s assistant medical director, was the featured keynote speaker. Stallings gave an informative talk on hypertension (high blood pressure), including testing, diagnosis, treatment, side effects, and health maintenance.

“Hypertension was known in the 1960s as the silent killer,” Stallings said. “As we get older and stiffer, our blood pressure slowly goes up, but there are things we can do to bring the blood pressure down and keep it under control such as exercise, keeping our weight down and watching what we eat,” he added.

 Stallings said there are foods with high salt content that can cause one’s blood pressure to go up. He also mentioned that genetics plays a role in high blood pressure and that “if your parents or siblings had high blood pressure, chances are you are going to have high blood pressure.

“If high blood pressure is not treated, it can be deadly,” Stallings said “because you don’t know what damage is being done to your body until it’s too late. You could get a severe headache, weakness in your arms, chest pains, and one day you’ll notice that your legs are swelling and you’re short of breath. You could be having congestive heart failure or kidney failure, which is more often because high blood pressure is not being treated.”

Following his presentation, Stallings answered questions from the more than 30 members of the attendance, including Jackson’s residents’ family members, Austin’s community members and Kathryn V. Jones, a 21-year lung cancer survivor from Chicago’s South Shore community. Jones said, “I learned something new about high blood pressure and how often I should have a cancer screening and check up.” She also said she would try and attend the club meetings regularly because she found it informative and enjoyable.

“We are so excited about the club,” Nicole Green, Jackson’s admissions director said. “This meeting featured blood pressure. Upcoming meetings will feature speakers on therapy, income, public aid, anything to help educate seniors and their families,” she added. The club offers its members free faxes, photocopying, a free lunch and blood pressure screenings.

To learn more

  • Persons interested in joining the club can contact Jackson Square’s activities director, Princess Johnson: