On Thursday, the AARP Hays and Ellis Chapters of AARP had their annual Summit.

The summit meeting, co-sponsored with these two chapters by the Kansas State AARP of Topeka, was designed to provide useful information for us in a number of fields. The information provided was not only useful but was up-to-date describing new techniques, new treatment and how they apply to us. The consensus of those present was most favorable with many complimentary remarks. It is with pride that the Ellis and Hays chapters had the first summit in the state and has been copied by several other cities using our model as their guide.

The summit consisted not only of speakers on varied subjects, but also had a number of booths with useful information on a number of subjects. Each attendee was provided with a plastic sack making it easy to garner the handouts. The state AARP office was well-represented by Marin Turner, the state director, David Wilson, the state president, Mary Tritsch the communications director for the state, and others as well.

To quickly review the subjects covered and their presenters, here are some quick summaries. Ken Loos of Hays' High Plains Mental Health Center spoke chiefly of the subject of depression among the elderly. He described it as a condition and not as a medical problem and not a normal part of growing old. But, he did say approximately 80 percent of those with depression do not seek help. Help is available.

Randy Cook of Hays Medical Center dealt with the problem of diabetes, describing something of its history, where we have been and where we now are in its treatment. He described it as being largely a problem of obesity. He said it might be partially genetic, but it is more likely you diet with the statement, "Weight loss makes all the difference." He also said it is important to follow doctor's orders, watch your diet, exercise, don't smoke and enjoy life.

Bob Blecha, who is director of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, spoke of consumer fraud and identity theft, giving us a number of examples of things to be aware of, such as those who make promises in home improvement such as concrete pouring, roofing, tree trimming and painting who will take your money and then disappear without doing the work. Signs to watch for include being contacted by strangers (rather than home-owned businesses), those who say it has to be decided "right now," and telemarketers who contact by telephone. His suggestion is to "hang up."

Dr. Jeff Burnett, professor at Fort Hays State University, spoke of myths about nutrition and diet. It would take to long time to cover the myths and good advice he gave us. But to highlight some of his suggestions, here they are: "I'll just eat less," which doesn't work because your body goes into a fasting mode. If you eat less than 1,200 calories, we will lose muscle tissue. "I can diet alone" probably won't work because we need support to keep us doing it. "Never eat between meals" should be replace with six small meals is actually best for us. He was emphatic with "I can lose weight if I skip breakfast." His answer was, "Bull." He says breakfast is a must to get metabolism started.

Jodi Sander of Smokey Hill Foundation for Chemical Dependency spoke of how alcohol and medications mix. This can provide dangerous combinations causing either boosting the effects or taking away the effects of prescriptions. She strongly suggests visiting with doctors and pharmacists about such effects and also includes the use of herbs in her advice.

Dr. Gary Benton, cardiologist and vascular surgeon at Debakey Heart Institute, pointed out heart disease doesn't wait until older age to begin. It starts when we are young. But we are not aware of it. It starts even before we are 20 years of age. Factors to be aware of are stress, knowledge of family history of heart disease, our cholesterol and blood pressure. He pointed to cigarettes as a factor with it containing 4,000 chemicals -- 200 of which are poisonous. He emphasized the diet should contain fruits and vegetables and less than six grams of salt per day. He summarized by saying coronary disease is a chronic disease and prevention is important.

It is impossible in this short space to review the valuable and useful information of the day. The Hays and Ellis AARP chapters already are beginning plans for next year's summit. Put the first Thursday of October on your calendar.

Arris Johnson, Hays, is a member of the Generations

Advisory Group.