In home injuries and how to prevent them

If your parent or loved one is living at home, it is important to take steps to ensure that their surroundings are safe. In home falls are a leading cause of injuries among seniors living alone. As adults age, we start to see an overall decline in vision, balance, and memory. Fortunately, we can make changes to help prevent accidents within the home by creating a safe environment.

As our vision declines with age the risk of tripping and falling rises. Take note of furniture around the home. Are there smaller pieces that can be removed or placed elsewhere within the home? Are there rugs that can easily be tripped on? Clearing obstacles and potential hazards from around the house can help decrease the chances of an accident.

It is also important to check in with seniors about their medications. What are they taking? Are they taking the right dosage and at the right time? If not, one could experience dizziness and loss of balance among other side effects, leading to a fall or accident.

After experiencing a fall in their home, seniors may feel scared and uneasy to start being active again. This inactivity creates other issues such as lack of muscle strength, balance, and at times depression. It is important to encourage seniors to stay active to help prevent other issues from surfacing.

By taking a few of these steps and asking a few questions we can help to lessen the chances of falls in the home for our older loved ones.

Diane Delaney

Golden Placement Services

503-723-7145

Ten Things You Can Do Today to Save Money on Prescription Drugs

Who doesn’t want to save money on their prescription drugs? Consumers in the US spend more on their

prescriptions than people in other countries. We know this; many of us know it all too well. What can we do about it?

Here are ten simple things we can do when filling our necessary prescriptions:

1.      Go over the list of prescriptions with your primary care Dr. For example; my 93-year-old mother has reduced her number of prescription from eight to four per day. She was taking duplicate medicines, or medicines that really did not even work for her, but she kept taking them. Now, her list of prescriptions is more refined thus saving us money.

2.      Ask your Dr. for generic versions of drugs instead of name brand. Talk with your Dr. about your finances. Many doctors have no idea what prescriptions cost and want to help you! Formularies are online so you and your Dr. can look at your plan’s formulary (list of prescriptions) to see what is covered or not.

3.      Ask if your Dr. can give you samples of a new prescription. I have a client whose Dr. gave him enough samples to last 8 months, and then they decided it was not producing the desired effect so they discontinued it.

4.      Enlist your local pharmacist and talk with them. Pharmacists are extremely knowledgeable; please consider them as part of your care team. Ask if you are taking the best version of your prescription; is there a generic available? Also, ask how your various prescriptions are interacting with each other.

5.      Get a paper script (vs digital) and shop around. I know this is a hassle but the results can be worthwhile. Every pharmacy charges a different price for the same prescription. Use the website or app called GoodRx to find the best price for your various prescriptions. Sometimes using mail order is the best price, you might learn how to do that with your insurance plan.

6.      For expensive, name brand name drugs, consider using online pharmacies. More and more people are doing this and are getting great prices for their prescriptions! I use pharmacychecker.com.

m with my clients. For example, using GoodRx, the expensive asthma inhaler Symbicort costs $376.00 for 2 months. We looked on PharmacyChecker.com and my client bought the exact same name brand prescription for less than $80.00 per month! She gets it from New Zealand and it only takes 2 weeks to arrive. One caveat: do look at dosages and amounts when comparing prescriptions online. Make sure you are getting what your doctor prescribed.

7.      Ask your pharmacist if the actual cash price for the prescription is lower than your price with insurance. Pharmacists may be reluctant to tell you straight out if this is the case; always ask. You might be surprised.

8.      Think numbers: Many larger big box stores have bigger buying power and pass the savings along to you. Get a 90-day supply of regular medications.

9.      Apply for assistance through your state or insurance plan. Often

people with low income can get assistance and a low-income subsidy (LIS). Ask if you qualify. You will have to show evidence and documentation.

10.  Finally, speak with your independent agent about your insurance. Are you on the best plan for you? Our needs change, thus our insurance needs change. Insurance plans change every year too. Speak with an independent agent and learn more about a variety of plans so you can make a wise decision.

Shopping around for our prescriptions can take some energy but is well worth the investment in time when we save significant amounts of money. In today’s’ expensive world, especially for those of us on fixed incomes, every little bit of money saved is a good thing.

Hilary Greenebaum, PhD

Howard Insurance for Seniors

(503) 443-5923

hilary@howardinsuranceagencyforseniors.com

Medicare Advantage and Supplement Plans?

Many people are not aware of the various plans available to Medicare beneficiaries. Yes, they all complement Medicare but there are some major differences! Your personal values, finances, and health status determine which plan is the best suited for you, your family, and your lifestyle. It is important to make a wise decision due to the number of rules around changing plans. You could be trapped in a plan you do not like and may be unable to change! Speak to an independent agent for more information.

What is a Medicare Supplement policy?

• A Medicare Supplement policy – or Medigap plan – is a health insurance policy made available through private insurers designed to cover the expenses not covered by Original Medicare. These began in the early 1980s.
• Federal law mandates features and benefits of the various Medicare Supplement (Medigap) policies.
• Benefits are standardized and are the same among private insurers who make this coverage available. Monthly premium price is the only difference between the insurance carriers.
• You can see any health care provider allowed by Medicare.
• You do not need a referral to see a Specialist.
• There is no network; you are free to travel!
• Monthly premiums and plan features for Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans can vary widely, depending on the type of plan you choose. Depending on your circumstances, you may need certain features that not all the plans offer. For example, some plans offer emergency coverage while you are traveling overseas, while other plans do not.
• Easy to budget! Premiums are entirely predictable so you can make wise financial decisions.
• Often NO billing and paperwork for you to complete at health care providers’ visit or procedure.
• A Medicare Supplement (Medigap) policy only works with Original Medicare. These policies do not work in conjunction with Medicare Advantage, group health insurance plans, or VA/TRICARE benefits.
• Prescription drug coverage is not included with these plans. You may want to purchase a stand-alone Part D Prescription Drug Plan.

What is a Medicare Advantage Plan?

• A Medicare Advantage (MA) plan is a managed care plan offered by health insurance companies, and some hospitals. These plans originated in 2006 due to new legislation regarding Part D, prescription drug laws.
• Monthly premiums start at zero dollars ($0) per month and range up to several hundred dollars per month.
• Come with co-pays and deductibles, with out of pocket maximums up to $6,700 or $10,000 per year.
• Each plan has a specific network of providers.
• Sometimes you can pay more and go outside the network.
• Typically you must have a Primary Care Physician refer you to see a Specialist
• Some come with a Part D, Prescription Drug Plan (PDP); often called a MAPD plan, some do not.
• Harder to budget because of the uncertain amount of co-pays and deductibles. You pay for what you use.
• Often there is billing and paperwork for you to complete at each health care providers’ visit or procedure.
• Growing in popularity due to extra benefits Medicare typically does not pay for such as a fitness center, hearing aids, and routine vision care benefits. More extra benefits are coming in the next year or so!
• Choose plans based upon your geographic location. Plans can be severally limited, or non-existent, in low population density or rural areas.

Whatever you do, learn as much as you can so you make a wise decision for you and your family. Talk with an independent agent who works for you not the insurance company!

Hilary Greenbaum
Howard Insurance Agency for Seniors
503-443-5923

Hospice Provider is YOUR Choice!

During a discussion with business associates the other day, the subject of Hospice came up.

It appears that in some cases, families are lead to think that they need to choose a hospice provider that works within their healthcare network, or one that a provider, such as an Adult Care Home or an Assisted living, prefers to work with.

It is necessary to clear up any misconceptions – Hospice is paid for by Medicare and patients have the option to choose any hospice provider they prefer.

It is ok to engage a hospice provider based on a trusted friend or associate’s recommendation.  It is, however, a better idea to interview at least 2 providers.  I have found the difference in services, comes down to the specific individuals that will be in direct contact with the individual on hospice, such as the RN, social worker, bath assistants, not necessarily the company – though different companies, as with any industry, have different philosophies.

The bottom line is – ask around, do your research, if possible, and know that you have the choice in providers.

Cherie Henry, Senior Placement Specialist

Autumn of Life Senior Housing and Advisory Services

503-701-5054

 

A Basic Understanding of Assisted Living Part #2 What to look for when touring a community 

My perspective is two sided.  Both from the point of view of an Assisted Living Director and that of a consultant who takes clients to look at Communities to find a great fit for their loved one.

As a Director, I would complete a self-audited tour to try to see what the prospect’s experience was from the moment of driving up to the building to the end of the tour.  As a consultant, I let the person at the community give the tour and information, interjecting questions and comments as I feel necessary to ensure my client gets all the pertinent information.

So, when you are out looking at communities for placement for a loved one what should you be aware of.  What questions should you ask when interviewing and making that final decision?

Here is a checklist of key points to consider:

Curb Appeal

  • What is your immediate reaction?
  • Are the grounds and building well kept?

Entering the building

  • Were you greeted upon entering?
  • Was there someone manning the front desk?
  • Was there someone available to assist you?

Touring 

  • Is the interior of the building well maintained and has a pleasant smell?
  • Are there residents out and about? Being actively involved?
  • Does the staff appear warm, friendly and happy?
  • Did they address you as you toured with a “Hi” and a smile?
  • Did they offer you a meal to enjoy?
  • Does the food look and smell good?
  • Is the dining experience well organized, efficient and is the food presented well?
  • Does it appear that there is pride in preparing and serving meals?

Cherie Henry, Senior Placement Specialist

Autumn of Life Senior Housing and Advisory Services

503-701-5054
info.autumnoflife@gmail.com
www.autumnoflife.net

Loneliness

As we age, our experiences change. Some we prepare for while others are completely unexpected. Moments of forgetfulness, muscle weakness or unsteadiness on our feet may begin to appear. Though these slight changes creep up on us there’s one experience many seniors don’t realize has entered their once busy and active life: loneliness.

 

One slight, but possibly harmful change for our connectedness is the reduction in mobility which can lead to less social interaction. Add to that financial limitations or the inaccessibility of transportation and there is a great risk of isolation. Isolation can lead to mental health problems like depression, anxiety and addictions. Physical ailments have been linked to loneliness too: high blood pressure, sleep disturbances, lack of mental focus and a weakened immune system.

 

What are some steps we can take to defend against the feelings of loneliness and be healthy well into our senior years?

 

Build connections by meeting new people: join clubs, go to church, attend a group exercise, take noncredit classes at the local community college to learn about new topics, or volunteer in your community. If you are interested in volunteering, check out VolunteerMatch.org where you can view and sign up for opportunities by age, ability and type of work.

 

We’re never too old to learn a new trick. Start learning a few now!

 

Catherine Camp, Senior Placement Specialist

Autumn of Life Senior Housing and Advisory Services

503-701-5054
info.autumnoflife@gmail.com
www.autumnoflife.net

A Basic Understanding of Assisted Living Services

Assisted living communities (ALF – Assisted Living Facilities) are not the same.
Here are a couple of things you should know; each provider has their own operating procedures and financial requirements.  Most do not provide skilled nursing care and each state has their own set of rules and regulations.
Commonality of what Assisted Living Communities in the State of Oregon provide, include:
– 3 meals per day, transportation for outings to medical appointment, shop and other activities within a designated mileage radius
– Weekly housekeeping – includes changing sheets and laundry of sheets and towels – personal laundry may be done at an extra charge and as a part of the care plan
– A plethora of structured social activities and events within the community
– RN on staff
– Trained care staff on site 24/7
– The ability to service a variety of care needs including assistance with bathing, dressing, transferring from a wheelchair to a bed or the bathroom, Medication management, and other common daily needs, or Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s)
The goal of an Assisted Living Community is to assist their residents to be as independent as possible, with the ability to have as little or as much assistance as needed to help them stay safe and comfortable.  It can be viewed as living in an independent or traditional apartment building, with meals and transportation provided and staff available, 24/7.
Cherie Henry, Senior Placement Specialist

503-701-5054

Won’t Medicare and my health insurance pay for long-term care services?

Long-Term Care Insurance provides funds to help you cover long-term care costs in the same manner Health Insurance provides financial coverage for doctor’s visits and hospital bills. However, it is very important to understand that Long-Term Care Insurance and Health Insurance are two distinctly different types of insurance. Health Insurance would likely provide coverage for doctor visits, hospitalization, and maybe even some prescription medicines. But if the individual’s condition progresses to the point where he or she requires long-term care or constant supervision and assistance with daily activities, Health Insurance would likely not provide coverage for that care.

Health insurance was not designed to cover the long-term care expenses for those who may have suffered permanent paralysis from an accident or stroke, developed Alzheimer’s, or perhaps need care as a natural result of aging.

This is where Long-Term Care Insurance comes in. Long-Term Care Insurance has been designed to pick up and provide coverage where Health Insurance leaves off. So in the case where the individual’s condition has progressed to the point where he or she requires assistance carrying out basic activities of daily living (like bathing, eating, toileting, dressing and moving about), Long-Term Care Insurance would provide funds to help cover the insured’s long-term care expenses, in support of any care the family is able to provide.

Those who have purchased Long-Term Care Insurance share that it has also helped them maintain their independence and freedom of choice over how and where their care services are provided. Long-Term Care Insurance can allow you to protect your assets and help ensure that your long-term care needs will not create a physical, financial or emotional burden on your family.

Becky Wehrli
Long-term Care Insurance Specialist
503-758-5725
info@BeckyLTC.com
www.BeckyLTC.com

My parents need to move! Why should I choose a Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES)?

When the time comes that the family home is no longer the right fit for a senior’s living situation, calling on the services of a Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES) will be a wise choice. 

 

A Seniors Real Estate Specialist is a Realtor who is uniquely qualified to assist seniors in selling or purchasing a home.   The SRES designation is awarded only to Realtors who have successfully completed a series of educational courses on how best to help seniors and their families with later-in-life real estate transactions.

 

One size does not fit everyone’s needs or desires when the time comes to choosing the next place to live.   The SRES is knowledgeable in many types of senior housing options.   This could mean a condominium, an apartment, a 55+ golf course community or assisted living centers just to name a few.

 

It would be wise to interview a SRES in your local area.   This will be a good time to find out if he or she has the kind of experience that will be of most help to you and your parent.   Ask questions that are most important to you.   Do they have references that you can contact?  Do they have references for vendors who might need to be called in to help with the placement, the move or getting the house in shape before putting it on the market to sell?    How long have they been actively selling real estate in the local area?

 

Your SRES should always work with your best interest in mind. They should be available to answer any questions that might come up before, during and after the sale or purchase of your home.  

 

There will be many decisions to be made on the way to selling or buying a home so be sure to start right by choosing a Seniors Real Estate Specialist to help.

 

 

Lynn Mattecheck, SRES

www.LynnMattecheck.com

Low-Cost Options for Aging in Place

Many seniors prefer to stay in their homes as long as possible. Of course your ability to do this hinges on many factors, including the nature of the challenges you face in your current home. Major home renovations may be required, but there are also numerous inexpensive steps you can take to improve your living situation.

Safety Improvements:

  • Flooring: carpeting is preferable to area rugs because it reduces tripping hazards and can cushion falls. But if area rugs are used, make sure they’re secured to the floor.
  • Handrails: on stairways, add a second handrail along the opposite wall for improved stability.
  • Footwear: to prevent falls, non-slip shoes are preferable to slippers of socks.
  • Non-skid safety strips:adhered to the floor of a tub/shower, non-skid strips are preferable to removable in-shower bath mats.
  • Bathroom grab bars: ideally these should be anchored into the wall, but if that’s not possible opt for a safety rail clamped onto the side of the tub.
  • Quality step ladder: purchase a broad-based heavy-duty step ladder with a hand-hold bar across the top to safely reach items stored out of reach.
  • Lighting: whether it’s making a bathtub brighter or installing motion-activated night lights in the hallway, better lighting can help prevent falls and make hobbies, reading, etc. more enjoyable. Lighting improvements might be as simple as changing the bulbs (to higher wattages or to bulbs that mimic daylight instead of “yellow” soft lighting) or adding battery-operated units.

Convenience Factors:

  • Hand shower: convert a standard fixed shower head into a hand-held system with flexible hose.
  • Raised toilet seats: no need to buy a new toilet when a removable seat can be added to most standard toilets.
  • Mail catcher: mail delivered via a slot in the door may be easier to retrieve from a mail box, especially if a narrow basket is mounted below the door opening so the recipient doesn’t have to pick up mail off the floor.
  • Knobs: replace round door and/or faucet knobs with lever styles, which are easier to turn. likewise, loop pulls can make drawers easier to open.
  • Eating: specially-designed cups and eating utensils can minimize food spills, including weighted options that help counterbalance shake-prone hands.
  • Cooking utensils: lightweight and ergonomically-designed options are readily available now, many offering non-slip handles and bright, attractive colors.
  • Keep things handy: move often-used items to easy-to-access locations.
  • Eliminate excess “stuff”: having fewer items to store, sort, juggle, and handle can make aging in place an easier and more enjoyable proposition.

Lynn Mattecheck is a Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES®) with RE/MAX. You can count on her to guide you through the process of buying or selling your home. (503) 495-3258.

The Seniors Real Estate Specialist® (SRES®) designation is awarded by the SRES® Council, a subsidiary of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). To learn more about SRES® and access various consumer resources, please visit SRES.org