Flu Awareness for Seniors

The 2019/2020 Flu season is lining up to be one of the worst yet. Influenza is notorious for being difficult to predict from one year to the next, so there’s no telling yet how this season will compare to previous years’ flu seasons. One big predictor for the United States flu season is the Southern Hemisphere — specifically, what strains are circulating in Australia and New Zealand and how many deaths and cases of severe illness are reported there in the previous season. Australia just wrapped up its largest flu season on record, in terms of the number of influenza cases reported. Thankfully, it wasn’t an especially severe season in terms of deaths or serious illness. 

We’ve seen the bright warning signs posted on Adult Care Home front doors and in all types of retirement communities. Shutting down the spread of the virus is the sole purpose of maintaining the health of the residents and all who visit. While there are always health issues we watch for as we age, the flue and pneumonia combine to rank seventh on the list of leading causes of death amount our elderly (according to the Center for Disease Control).  

Did you know there are two types of flu shots available to people ages 65 and older? These FDA-approved vaccines are designed to offer extra protection beyond what a standard flu shot provides, which is important for older adults who have weaker immune defenses and have a great risk of developing dangerous flu complications.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that during the 2018-2019 flu season, up to 647,000 people were hospitalized and 61,200 died because of the flu-most of whom were seniors.  

Two important vaccination the CDC recommend to seniors, especially this time of year, are the pneumococcal vaccines for pneumonia. Around 1 million Americans are hospitalized with pneumonia each year, and about 50,000 people die from it. Medicare Part B covers both shots, if they are take at least one year apart. Here’s a link to find a vaccination site near you. vaccinefinder.org

Cherie Henry and Catherine Camp
Autumn of Life Senior Housing and Advisory Services 

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

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

Do you need something other than Original Medicare?

As you approach age 65, it is time to determine whether you will want additional health insurance to complement original Medicare. For most seniors who enroll in Medicare Parts A and B, buying an additional policy is a good idea. Original Medicare covers approximately 80% of the cost of many health care services and supplies. In that remaining 20%, there are substantial costs, deductibles, and co-pays that can easily cost you thousands of dollars each year in of out-of- pocket medical expenses.

A Medicare Supplement policy or a Medicare Advantage Plan provides coverage for those gaps in your Medicare coverage and can save you money and concern about finances.

You are eligible to purchase a policy at various times of the year, depending on your personal situation. It can be very complicated and there are many rules set by the Center for Medicare Services (CMS).

When you are first eligible for Medicare, selecting which plan to augment your Original Medicare is an important decision. Did you know it is also an important decision for any age Medicare beneficiary because you might be able to switch plans at a variety of times during the year?

There is a variety of enrollment periods:

Initial Enrollment Period – When you activate Part B, often at age 65, but not always.
Annual Enrollment Period – Oct. 15 – Dec. 7
Open Enrollment Period (*new in 2019) – Jan. 1 – March 31 for Medicare Advantage only.
Special Enrollment Period – Anytime an individual qualifies for special enrollment accommodations.
However, most people choose a policy around the time they turn age 65 and hope to stick with it. During this time, you have Guarantee Issue, which means insurance companies cannot deny you coverage based on your health status or claim experience. It is very important to make wise decisions when you have that Guarantee Issue opportunity! Learn more from 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

 

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

How does my health factor into Long-term Care Insurance?

Long-Term Care insurance is based on an individual’s physical and cognitive health at time of application. Each insurance company has different “health standards” which affect eligibility, timing and the price of your insurance policy. A health questionnaire helps a long-term care specialist learn about your unique health history, enabling her to make appropriate policy recommendations. All health information is kept strictly confidential.

A medical diagnosis related to chronic conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease or Multiple Sclerosis, may preclude you from Long-Term Care insurance. Most other conditions such as cancer, heart attack or stroke, are insurable after a period of stability, ranging from 3 month to 2+ years and depends on the severity of the condition and plan of treatment. Sharing your health information with your LTC specialists helps to determine the best product, timing for an application and insurance carrier for you to obtain coverage.

The health questionnaire will be completed in writing at the time of your application for coverage. While not all-inclusive, the following list will give you an idea as to the information you will be asked to provide.

  • Age, Height, Weight
  • Name of your primary care physician; date and reason for last visit
  • Information about current prescription or over-the-counter medications taken routinely including name, dosage and reason prescribed
  • Current and previous consultation/treatment history including, in- or out-patient hospitalization, rehabilitation, physical therapy, pending test results, request for additional testing, referral to a specialist
  • Personal history of cancer, heart attack, stroke, diabetes or arthritis
  • Disclosure of any use of tobacco products

Specific content will depend on the underwriting requirements of your preferred product and insurance provider.

 2017 Becky Wehrli LTC

For more information about Long-Term Care Insurance

Contact Becky Wehrli 503-758-5725 or info@BeckyLTC.com

Spring into Action

Winter is almost behind us and spring is right around the corner. I don’t know about you, but that always makes me want to start some “spring cleaning.”   It seems like there are always projects to do, things that needs to be done.

In fact, when we are helping to care for others it can feel like there are so many things that need to be done.  There are projects and tasks to complete and at all the same time, even things to do that we don’t even know need doing.  Can you relate?

Often times, getting an answer to even just one question, can help to “make our day,” and even reduce some of the stress we feel.  Here are some questions you might have and tools for how you can “spring into action” to find the answer to one or possibly more of your concerns.
* My Mother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.   Where can I find support and encouragement?  Check out  https://www.seniorcareorganizer.com/content/links/  . There are several great books written by authors who have dealt with family members with Alzheimer’s.

* I need to find some local senior care support in my County.  This link allows you to put in the zip code to find local resources. http://eldercare.gov/Eldercare.NET/Public/Index.aspx

* My Father lives alone.  I keep thinking if he fell, no one would know it.  I’ve heard of the emergency pendants, but which one is the right one?  Reviews.com has done quite a large review of medical alert systems. http://www.reviews.com/medical-alert-systems/

* My brothers and I have different ideas about whether Mom and Dad can stay in their own home now that they both have medical needs.   Is there anyone who can give us some advice?  Contact a Geriatric Care Manager.  http://www.aginglifecare.org/

* My Mother is 80 years old, in good health, but doesn’t have anyone close by to help her move. Where can I find help?   Contact a local Move Manager.   http://nasmm.org/

* My Dad was a Veteran.  Is help available for long term care for him and Mom?  Here are a couple of national groups that can help.  http://www.veteranaid.org/    http://www.veteranscarecoordination.com/

* I need to handle my parents’ Social Security.  Do I need authorization?  How does this work?  Become a Representative Payee.  https://www.ssa.gov/payee/faqrep.htm

* My Father is definitely having problems with driving.  Maybe it’s time for him to give up his license?  Check out this Link:  http://keepingussafe.org/

* I really should get more organized as it relates to senior care issues.  Is there a resource for this? There absolutely is.  It comes both as a downloadable interactive PDF and the Notebook version.  http://www.seniorcareorganizer.com/.

By Claudia Rumwell, Senior Care Organizer

Got the Music in Me

musicWith one in eight baby boomers expected to develop Alzheimer’s, care giving communities must continue to pursue ways to reach people where they are through music, art, athletics, pet therapy and even the way we use language.

No truer example of how music can touch detached residents than in a YouTube video called, “Old Man In Nursing Home Reacts To Hearing Music From His Era” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKDXuCE7LeQ.  (Get ready for the tear ducts to start flowing!)  This video has been viewed over an astonishing 6 million times. Obviously, loved ones and care providers are actively engaged in learning more about inspiring therapies as an instrumental addition to their care giving programs.

“Measure of the Heart: Caring for a Parent with Alzheimer’s,” is a memoir by author, broadcaster and former jazz singer, Mary Ellen Geist. She writes she always found a song to sing to her father at the start or the end of his day.

“Music changed everything in the way I was able to communicate with my father,” she said. “It made him come alive. I don’t know how it worked in the brain, but music seemed to cue him to wake up; he would remember verses, sing entire songs. It elevated his mood, but when he was done he didn’t remember what he did.”

We have found that Retirement Communities of every level use music as a part of their regular programing, including Adult Care Homes, which most people are not aware of.  The key being “from their era” or “age appropriate” music.  The music must mean something to the people hearing it. Won’t it be interesting to see how that changes as the different generations age?

At GPS we always make site visits to facilities prior to showing them to our clients. It’s imperative to provide our client’s with the opportunity to participate in daily activities and interests.  We know they can vary greatly from facility to facility and it’s clear to see and compare their offerings. As communities continue to embrace new ways of engaging their residents we look forward to telling you more about who is putting forth such programs.

by Cherie Henry and Diane Delaney of Golden Placement Services at goldenplacements.com