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Free Health Screenings: AARP/Walgreens Wellness Tour

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The first time my husband was laid off, he’d just turned 50. Being a songwriter, he approached the problem as any good songwriter should and turned the adventure into a song – "Times Is Hard!" With the rising unemployment count and tough economic times, the song has become increasingly popular again and is frequently requested when he plays out. Because the times we live in really are hard for many people, I’ve been on a search all this month trying to find low cost or free heart health screenings. Let’s face the facts. Whether we like it or not, many of our fellow Americans are doing without screenings that might ultimately save their lives because they can’t afford it. There are resources available but most of us don’t know where to look.

One resource that was new to me was the AARP/Walgreens Wellness Tour. A unique partnership between AARP and Walgreens, the Wellness Tour is a two-year national program which began on April 14, 2009. The AARP/Walgreens Wellness Tour is dedicated to improving health and quality of life through early detection and prevention education, particularly in areas which are underserved or diverse.

Ultimately, the goal of the Wellness Tour is to provide FREE health care screenings to more than 2.5 million Americans! Just imagine, nine buses (all customized with medical equipment necessary to safely conduct the screenings), with certified medical screeners, going to 45 states plus Puerto Rico, 2,000 cities in all, covering 240,000 miles, and offering $60 million dollars of free medical screenings. One bus, the AARP/Walgreens La Gira Del Buen Vecino (Good Neighbor Tour) will be assigned to Puerto Rico providing free health care screenings to communities on that island.

The Wellness Tour provides free health care screenings in six major areas, five of which are directly related to heart health risk factors. Education and screening are provided for the following areas:
• Blood pressure: common chronic adult condition, risk factor for heart disease
• Total cholesterol level: risk factor for heart disease
• Waist circumference/ body mass index (BMI) calculation: obesity and BMI are risk factors for heart disease
• Glucose (blood sugar) levels: screens for diabetes, a common disease with few symptoms in the beginnings; also a risk factor for heart disease
• Bone density: reveals early osteopenia or osteoporosis which identifies risk of bone fractures

It’s estimated that the value of the free screenings is approximately $140 per screening. No appointment, insurance or doctor referral is required in order to receive a free health screening.

Despite the fact that AARP is a partner, you do not have to be an AARP member to participate in the Wellness Tour. (Persons eligible for AARP membership are offered a one-year free membership at the time of the screening.) The screenings are for ALL adults over the age of 18 years. The Wellness Tour buses are even accessible for disabled persons so all can participate regardless of mobility or other impairments. Language is also not a barrier as each Wellness Tour bus will have at least one staff member fluent in Spanish available for native Spanish speakers. The Wellness Tour staff members can generally screen about 20 people per hour and the screenings take approximately 20-30 minutes to complete. You receive your results immediately at the completion of the screening so there is no follow-up with Wellness Tour staff (although, depending on your test results, you may need to follow-up with your physician). I generally wait more than 20 minutes in the outer office of my doctor’s office just to get “in” to an examining room!

To learn more about the AARP/Walgreens Wellness Tour, you can visit its homepage online at: http://www.walgreens.com/topic/health-screenings/bus-tour.jsp. To find a location near you, choose Tour Schedule from the menu bar. On the Tour Schedule page, you can choose your state and you’ll be provided with the dates and locations of screenings near you. I was pleasantly surprised to find that one of the Wellness Tour buses is going to be here in my hometown for the next two weeks!

Prevention truly is the greatest medicine of all. Screenings like this are often overlooked because of cost but can be so helpful in putting together a course of action that might prevent you from developing heart disease or worse, suffering a cardiac event. Whether you don’t know your status in relationship to these risk factors, or you know but need to monitor your status, the AARP/Walgreens Wellness Tour is a free resource that may help you identify areas where follow-up or lifestyle changes are needed. So, quick – convenient – easy - free. What more could you ask for?

Resources and information:
Information on the Wellness Tour: Email Walgreens at [email protected]

To request a Tour stop at your special event please visit us at walgreens.com/sponsorship.

For more information on AARP, see www.aarp.org

Wellness tour hours and other details, visit www.aarpwalgreens.com/tour or call 1-866-484-TOUR (1-866-484-8687).

AARP/Walgreens Wellness Tour, 2010, http://www.walgreens.com/topic/health-screenings/bus-tour.jsp

Add a Comment2 Comments


Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us! I"m really glad to know that you had a positive experience there and hope that information will help others to feel comfortable in giving this resource a try.
Thanks again!

May 24, 2010 - 11:41am
EmpowHER Guest

Great article! I've gone to this bus twice already within the last year and a half, and it has been a great experience. I learned that my bone density was low and that it had improved the second time around.

May 20, 2010 - 7:15am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.