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Aging Wisely August 2014 - Aging Wisely

Preparing for Medicare Open Enrollment 2015


medicare annual open enrollment

Facts about Medicare Open Enrollment for 2015

Each year, Medicare recipients have the opportunity to change Medicare plans for the coming year. The period of time allocated for making changes is the annual open enrollment period or annual coordinated election period. For the past couple years, this period has been October 15th-December 7th.

Almost 90% of Medicare’s nearly 50 million beneficiaries have some form of prescription drug coverage, with more than 17 million enrolled in private drug plans through the prescription drug program (Part D). Of those 17 million, 14 million are in the top 10 plans. Though plans must have basic key features, covered drugs and costs vary widely. You cannot necessarily just look at the monthly premium to determine what is best for you so it’s important to take the opportunity to look at your choices.

Here are a few key Medicare facts and dates:

  • New Medicare recipients (those who turn 65 or become eligible for Medicare, such as via a disability) have an initial 7 month enrollment period (to avoid late enrollment penalties): the 3 months prior to the month of eligibility, the month of eligibility and the 3 months following. Coverage begins the first day of your eligibility month (or the first day of the month you enroll if you don’t enroll until after your eligibility month).
  • Each year, current recipients can make changes to their Part D plan from October 15th to December 7th. The new plan will begin on January 1st of the following year. Everyone should do a review since both the plan options and your personal situation may have changed.
  • From January 1st-February 14th there is also a Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period. During this time, those who are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan can disenroll, switch back to regular Medicare and pick a Part D plan.
  • There are Special Enrollment Periods (SEPs) for those in certain circumstances. These include moving in or out of a skilled nursing facility.
  • **You may hear information about enrollment periods or other details about the new healthcare plans under “Obamacare” (for example, the open enrollment period was originally set to correspond with the yearly Medicare period, but has been delayed). Do not get this information confused with Medicare. Also, beware of scammers who may try to take advantage of confusion around Obamacare and convince you that your Medicare plan is affected and you need to provide personal data.

All this seem a bit confusing? Check out our 2014 Medicare fact sheet (we will have a 2015 version as soon as those numbers become available) or contact us about our Medicare Analysis services.

Our expert care managers can save you money and reduce your hassle! Trust our patient advocates…they do not sell insurance but instead offer expert guidance based on years helping patients navigate the healthcare system.

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Getting Help for Depression


depression in seniors

With Robin Williams’ recent suicide, there has been increasing discussion about depression, addiction and suicide. Increased awareness is important for these issues that are too often hidden and stigmatized, or misunderstood.

One great article that was recently posted on is Five Common Myths of Depression, which may help you to gain a better understanding of the disease.

Older adults in particular often face untreated depression, largely because of certain misconceptions. Some of this comes from the myth that depression is a normal part of aging. Additionally, the signs of depression can be a bit trickier to spot in elders and often get confused with other illnesses. You may want to read our article, Signs and Symptoms of Depression in the Elderly.

Many people aren’t aware of the high rate of suicide among older adults (though the rates are also increasing among men in Robin Williams’ “middle aged” group). Others believe the myth that these suicides in elders are generally active choices to end their lives due to disease or pain, but studies have not corroborated this idea. Here are the stats about elder suicide:

  • People over 65 make up about 13% of our country’s population, but about 18% of all suicides.
  • Elderly white males have the highest rate of suicide of any group (over four times the overall rate of suicide).

How do you help the depressed person? How do you convince him/her to get help? Where can you turn?

The Right Approach: How to Help an Older Adult You Feel May Be Depressed

Tips for Helping a Depressed Senior with Healthy Living (ways you can support the person)

NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness): Depression in Older Adults 

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Our Aging Wisely team has in-depth experience helping clients and families seek diagnosis and treatment for depression and other mental health issues. Our care managers assist in managing conditions, coordinating healthcare, advocating for clients and checking in to ensure follow-up and safety. Call us at 727-447-5845 for a free consultation.

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Alzheimer’s Awareness Update


Aging Wisely Alzheimer's Awareness event

Join us this month for a number of great Alzheimer’s awareness and fundraising events! First up, this week the Memory Mobile will be visiting us again. On August 13th, the Florida Gulf Coast Association’s Memory Mobile will be visiting the Aging Wisely office from 11-2:30. Come by and learn about dementia, find out more about Memory Mobile and other Alzheimer’s Association services and/or take part in a memory screening.

Our 50/50 raffle last month raised $262. Thanks to everyone who participated! Our Walk to End Alzheimer’s fundraiser this month is wine tasting. We will have two wine tasting parties (see above)…come join us for some good company for a good cause! Bring a bottle of wine or a soft drink to share and we’ll contribute all the donations ($10 suggested) through our team’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s efforts. Help raise funds for vital Alzheimer’s services and research while having an enjoyable evening together!

We also hope you’ll make plans to attend (or share with someone you know who might benefit) our Alzheimer’s classes, coming up this fall. You can click here to get all the information on the Alzheimer’s classes at Aging Wisely/EasyLiving, led by our Alzheimer’s certified R.N. The classes will help you understand Alzheimer’ disease, offer you the opportunity for Q&A with a professionally and personally experienced nurse, and provide handouts and CEUs.

If you have a loved one or client dealing with Alzheimer’s disease or a possible dementia diagnosis, don’t forget that we offer free consultations (phone or at your home if you live in Tampa Bay) with our expert Senior Care Consultant. Call us at 727-447-5845 to set up a time.

We have several Alzheimer’s resources on our Senior Care Resources page that you might want to check out. We cover a variety of topics on our blog each week to help you and we welcome your feedback about topics you’d like to see.


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Simplify Your Life: Caregiving Life Hacks


caregivers: simplify your life inspiration

Visit our EasyLiving Facebook page this week for “Simplify Your Life Week” daily tips and share your suggestions!

Today, we are sharing some “life hacks” for caregivers. According to Wikipedia, a life hack is a term for “any trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method that increases productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life.” If you are caring for an aging parent or senior loved one, you need these shortcuts more than anyone!

TechTime: Apps and Online Tools

Use caregiver apps or other scheduling and time-saving apps. Here are a few we recommend checking out: Caregiver’s Touch (this is the app our care managers use to coordinate care and communicate/store vital information), Caring Bridge (to record journal entries to keep others updated and communicate easily), Balance for Alzheimer’s Caregivers (specific to Alzheimers: coordinate care, track meds and get the latest dementia information).

Other related apps that may be useful include: WebMD mobile, various “to do” list apps (see this Forbes article for a list of their top 9 suggestions), Medisafe (medication reminder app), MyActionPlanner (a goal setting tool developed by Stanford to help with a healthy lifestyle), and iRelax (relaxing soundscapes to keep you stress-free).

Meals Made Easy

Between all the busy tasks of caregiving, it can be hard to find time to prepare healthy meals. Consider using a meal delivery service or even hiring someone to prep meals to freeze (our EasyLiving caregivers can help!). Keep healthy convenience foods on hand (nuts, canned beans, cooked chicken, pre-cut vegetables and fruit, healthy snack food). There are also great apps for meal planning (with help creating shopping lists, searching by ingredient and more). Here’s a great list of apps that assist with special dietary requirements. Check out these “21 Cooking Tips That Will Change Your Life” too!

It Takes a Village

Taking the best possible care of your loved one means not doing it all alone. Think about tasks you’d be better off “outsourcing” such as meals and cleaning so you can have more quality time to dedicate to your loved one. Consider the emotional discomfort that can come with performing personal care tasks for a parent. Maybe having a trained caregiver to help with bathing and toileting would make sense?

Get comfortable with a “care team” before you are in a crisis. Use respite help or take a break once/week and have a quality caregiver assist so you are able to maintain some balance and have familiar help when needed.

Seeking help from a geriatric care manager is much like seeking help from a CPA with your taxes or a financial advisor with your investments. Rather than try to learn all about the eldercare system, aging issues and healthcare for elders, seek someone who is educated, trained and experienced to be your guide.

It Doesn’t All Have to Be Done Today

When your loved one faces a crisis, you get a lot thrown at you at once and can feel pressured in to major decisions. This is an ideal time to get a professional care management assessment to help you prioritize. What decisions need to be made immediately (and what are the best options) and what can wait? What issues are most urgent for your loved one’s safety and what long-term planning can be done as time allows to avoid future crises?

It is also okay to say no and reduce other obligations when you are focused on caregiving. But, make sure to maintain at least one (preferably daily) activity that provides you pleasure or relaxation, and do not neglect your health.


Use the apps we mentioned above to store information and keep schedules updated. Set alarms and reminders so you won’t forget important appointments and to-dos. Automate bill paying and other basic tasks. Schedule appointments at your previous appointment, and set your reminders.

Little things around the home, such as leaving an extra trash bag in all your cans for replacements and these 45 amazing little tricks, can remove hassles and save you time.

Give Aging Wisely’s Senior Care Consultant a call at 727-447-5845 for more great ideas to make caregiving easier! You can contact Aging Wisely’s geriatric care management team in Tampa Bay/Pinellas County, Florida online.

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Our goal is to enable every individual we work with to live the most fulfilling life possible, with utmost dignity, focusing on their physical, mental, spiritual, family and financial wellbeing.