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Health screenings let seniors monitor progress

June 16, 2011
By RENEE PRUSI - Journal Staff Writer ( , The Mining Journal

NEGAUNEE - Linda and Jim Saari are working to be more health conscious.

A program offered at the Negaunee Senior Citizens Center helped them in the effort.

Tuesday, Linda, 63, and Jim, 68, took part in a free senior health screening provided by the Marquette County Health Department.

Article Photos

From left, nurse Jill Santti of the Marquette County Health Department talks with Linda and Jim Saari about the results of the health scans the couple received at the Negaunee Senior Citizens Center Tuesday. The health department will offer health screenings for seniors at various locations in the county throughout the summer. (Journal photo by Renee Prusi)

"It's really nice the health department does this," Linda said as she began the series of screenings."It's good to be able to see how we are doing."

The Saaris, who will celebrate their 44th wedding anniversary in September, have been eating more chicken, adding more vegetables, and in general, trying to be more careful about the food they consume.

They have tried to incorporate more exercise into their routine. The screenings are a way for them to know how they are doing.

"When did you last eat?" asked Jill Santti, a health department licensed practical nurse.

"It was at about 5 last night," Jim Saari answered as his wife nodded. The two readily answered a series of questions from Santti.

Both Saaris consider themselves lucky to be in relatively good health.

"I think I am doing fine," Linda Saari said. "I only take one pill a day."

That pill is for high blood pressure, but on this sunny morning, Linda received some good news. Her blood pressure was 120 over 78, much more in the normal range than usual.

"It must be working," she said, referring to her new healthier regime.

Jim, a Coast Guard retiree who served for a year in Vietnam, has annual physicals through the Veterans Administration, but likes the idea of having his health checked more than once a year.

"I had a colonoscopy in March. It has been 10 years, so it was time," he said. "It's so much better to prevent health problems, to catch things before they get too bad."

Linda Saari said one of her personal goals is to drop some weight in order help keep her blood pressure readings low. She was ecstatic to find she had lost a few pounds since her last screening a few months ago.

"We do try to eat healthy, but the nurse told me before that a treat now and then isn't a bad thing. You have to be able to enjoy your life," she said. "So when we go to graduation parties, I can have a treat. Or two."

Jim Saari added, with a huge smile: "I tell her I am the sweetest thing she gets. I was born on Valentine's Day."

Santti said having an occasional treat is not a bad thing.

"Then you aren't tempted to overindulge," she said.

Linda also found out she's a bit shorter than before, something that happens naturally as a person ages, Santti said.

"At least I am not shrinking much," said Linda, who grew up in Palmer.

Jim, who grew up both in Hancock and Detroit, is getting ready for a big occasion later this summer: His 50-year class reunion.

"I am really looking forward to that," he said.

Registered nurse Jean Reynolds also was doing health screenings for seniors during this particular morning.

"I love working with the seniors. They are a lot of fun," Reynolds said. "I am surprised at how active so many of them are. It's wonderful to see. And I am amazed when some of them come in and I find out they're 90. They are in such good shape."

Santti said the screenings are scheduled at various locations in Marquette County throughout the summer. For more information, call the health department at 475-9977.

Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253.



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