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Seniors enjoy a day of education, pampering and fun at Fallfest

Seniorfest at Weiss.A day of activities at a wellness spa might include massage, manicure, exercise, lectures, creative activities and food at a price tag of hundreds of dollars.  Last Wednesday, more than 100 seniors enjoyed their choices of all of those options at Weiss Memorial Hospital—for free.

Weiss partnered with Home Instead Senior Care to host the fourth annual Senior Fallfest: Harvest the Best of Life, a half-day long party filled with services and activities for seniors in the Uptown community. Susan Phelan, owner of Home Instead Senior Care said, “This event is fun; it’s not like screenings or blood tests. I hope everyone has a great time.”

Weiss Senior Services Coordinator Abby Lochotzki hours of time and effort into the Fallfest. She said, “The most important thing is for people here to meet new people and have a good, fun, happy day.”

The event kicked off with an informal breakfast during morning registration. Then the party moved to the auditorium. Vice President of Business Development & Community at Weiss Memorial Hospital Caren Perlmuter explained that the program was in part to remind people that Weiss wasn’t just a place to come when we are sick; it’s a place where people might find “things that feed our souls.” She also introduced Jeffrey Steinberg, the new CEO of Weiss, who told the audience he was happy to relocate to Chicago from Connecticut in part “because of the weather.” After the chuckling died down, he said he felt Weiss was a good fit for him because of the hospital’s “mission and investment” in the community.

“I’m blown away by the resources for our seniors,” he said. “I have an open door policy, and welcome people to stop by.”

Then Dheeraj Mahajan, M.D., Weiss geriatrics medical director stepped up to the podium in a tuxedo. After all, the traditional medical whites wouldn’t do for his role as emcee of the Fallfest Fashion Show. One by one, he introduced the senior models who walked the catwalk in their own fall fashions; one participant even donned a Halloween mask.

Dr. Deeraj Mahajan escorts a model showing off her Halloween spirt during the senior fall fashion show.

Dr. Deeraj Mahajan escorts a model showing off her Halloween spirt during the senior fall fashion show.


After the fashion show, Dr. Mahajan gave an encore presentation on memory and cognition, complete with interactive exercises. Even in the midst of such a serious topic, he managed to elicit several laughs.  For instance, he asked the audience a multiple choice question—were they currently at:

A) Weiss?
B) Northwestern? 
C) Hollywood?

Dr. Mahajan also impressed upon the audience the importance of keeping the mind active. “Since memory loss may be sign of early dementia, brain exercises can help. Keep reading and doing puzzles,” he said.

For the next two hours, attendees busied themselves with one activity and one service of their choosing. Activities included a Chicago history lecture, cooking demonstration and tasting, and pumpkin decoration; the services were manicures and massages.  

Terry Zander and Helen Tom enjoy themselves at the Senior Fallfest.

Terry Zander and Helen Tom enjoy themselves at the Senior Fallfest.


Lots of “oohs” and “aahs” could be heard through the closed door where the massages took place.
Massage Therapist Bruce Groeper offers the gift of relaxation to Fallfest attendees.

Massage Therapist Bruce Groeper offers the gift of relaxation to Fallfest attendees.


Many women could be seen walking around, hands up, nails drying, smiles on their faces. And the artists in the group showed off their feathered and glittery pumpkins.

Mario Tricoci students volunteered their time to give manicures to Fallfest attendees.

Mario Tricoci students volunteered their time to give manicures to Fallfest attendees.


Everyone congregated together at the end to watch or participate in a line dancing class. The festivities ended on a high note with a raffle of gift baskets and prizes for 12 lucky attendees.

Line Dance Instructor Freda Terry teaches a group of seniors a few smooth moves on the dance floor.

Line Dance Instructor Freda Terry teaches a group of seniors a few smooth moves on the dance floor.


As everyone was walking out, Lochotzki looked pleased. It seemed obvious that everyone had a “good, fun, happy day.”

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