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Aging Wisely October 2014 - Aging Wisely

What is the Key to Aging Wisely?


keys to aging wisely

The Aging Wisely Assessment™ is the key to unlocking the “secrets” to quality of life as one ages. If you are concerned about an aging parent or you are facing health problems yourself, the Aging Wisely assessment is the place to start. Why?

  • In order to make a good plan (and thus take some control over your aging process), everyone involved needs to understand the situation and have a good baseline. The Aging Wisely assessment does much more than gather information on a form. Our expert team created our assessment to address all the key areas that give an accurate picture of what is happening.
  • We uncover vital information that can immediately make quality of life better. This can be as simple as finding out there may be a problem with your medications that is causing you to fall or have memory problems or suggesting some simple home organization changes to make life easier or increase safety. It may be that you’ve been seeing overlapping doctors for the same condition or have conflicting diagnoses. Or, our care manager might notice you are paying too much for medications or you’re eligible for financial assistance with your insurance.
  • The assessment prioritizes what needs to be done now and in the near future. It reduces the stress of eldercare and can help mitigate disagreements.
  • It saves everyone involved valuable time (and money). You and your family don’t waste time pursuing solutions that don’t make sense for you. You get valuable insight into resources and options that make sense based on the situation.

What makes the Aging Wisely Assessment™ different?

  • It is our own proprietary process and format, designed by our founder and care managers, pioneers in the geriatric care management field. Our assessments have been used in court cases and by attorneys, guardians, doctors and other professionals in order to better assist their clients. We didn’t feel that a standard form offered the answers that clients really needed. When you want real answers, don’t settle for less.
  • Our assessment is truly holistic. Aging doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Knowing your diagnoses is only one piece of the puzzle. By gaining an understanding of your entire situation, so we can offer solutions that will actually work.
  • You get actionable suggestions. We don’t just tell you what we found out, we tell you and your family how to go about managing concerns and building upon strengths (with our help, if desired). We give you specific resources to help.
  • Our team of experts! It is the knowledge and experience of our care management team that offers you unique insight and creative solutions.

To learn more about what makes our assessment unique, you may want to read The Aging Wisely Assessment Process and view some sample assessments. Let us know if you have a question we can answer as we share more about Aging Wisely Assessment™.

If you’re curious to know more or discuss your personal situation, take advantage of our free needs analysis today by filling out this form or calling us at 727-447-5845.

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Are You Concerned about Memory Loss?


aging and memory loss

The thought that you (or a loved one) might have Alzheimer’s disease is quite terrifying. Many times when we notice difficulty remembering, we’re torn between dismissing it as simply “old age” and worrying it might be something more sinister. If you have such concerns, a good place to start is our handout, Memory Loss: Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Old Age–What is it?. You might also want to consider a memory screening, which may be offered at your local clinic , hospital, or can be performed by your healthcare provider. In the Tampa Bay area, the Alzheimer’s Association’s Memory Mobile makes visits to different locations to bring information and memory screenings to citizens. We enjoyed hosting the Memory Mobile earlier this year and helping spread Alzheimer’s awareness!

If you are concerned about a loved one’s memory, this can be a sensitive topic. Remember that it is not only difficult to admit that memory may be failing, but it also brings a lot of fear about what this might mean and losing one’s independence. It can help to reassure your loved one that you want to help find out if perhaps a medication is causing some problems or if there is some underlying health issue. There are reversible causes of memory problems and dementia symptoms, so getting an idea of what is going on could actually lead to an improvement and better well-being (and continued independence!). If there is some form of progressive dementia at work, such as Alzheimer’s, having a diagnosis will help with planning and early treatment. This can make a big difference in quality of life for many years to come.

If you are having difficulty when trying to talk about these concerns with your loved one, consider scheduling a time to talk to our Senior Care Consultant, who can offer advice and ideas. Our expert care managers have helped hundreds of families facing dementia and can assist with everything from obtaining a proper diagnosis to finding the best healthcare providers through planning and determining the best options throughout the progress of the disease.

Sometimes, the person with memory loss is good at covering for deficiencies and families may not spot the early signs, especially if living at a distance. Our care managers can help evaluate in a dignified way and we’re also available if an urgent situation arises (e.g. you come to visit and realize how far things have deteriorated and don’t think it’s safe to leave Mom alone anymore, Dad ends up at the hospital malnourished or with effects of medication mismanagement, your aunt is found by the police after getting lost).

Contact the Aging Wisely team online or at 727-447-5845 for assistance with memory loss concerns!

On October 25th, our team will join others in the local community for the Pinellas County Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Our team has been placing special focus on Alzheimer’s awareness and fundraising all year and we look forward to gathering with other supporters for this event! Check out the walk page if you’d like to support the event (or join a walk in your area if you don’t live near Clearwater)!


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Medicare Facts and Figures for 2015


On October 9th, Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell announced the Medicare costs for 2015.

The great news is that the Medicare B premium ($104.90) and deductible ($147) will remain at the same levels for the coming year! Part B covers physicians’ services, outpatient hospital services, certain home health services, durable medical equipment, and more. Since 2007, higher income individuals ( above $85,000/year for individuals, $107,000 for joint tax returns) pay higher Part B premiums, up to $335.70 (see above article for the chart detailing the different levels).

Most Americans do not pay a premium for Part A services (hospital coverage: pays for inpatient hospitalization, skilled nursing and some home healthcare) because they have sufficient quarters of employment (40+) to qualify for Part A premium-free. For those who have 30-39 quarters of employment, the Part A premium in 2015 is $224 (down $10 from this year) and for those with 0-39 qualifying quarters, the cost is $407 (down $19).

When a Medicare recipient is admitted to the hospital, there is a Part A deductible (costs for up to a 60 day stay), which will be $1260 in 2015 (an increase of $44 over 2014). For longer stays, beneficiaries pay an additional $315 per day for days 61 through 90 in 2015, and $630 per day for hospital stays beyond the 90th day (up to 60 additional “lifetime reserve days” available; then recipient pays all costs).

Medicare Part A also covers limited skilled nursing/inpatient rehabilitation coverage*. If recipients qualify for coverage, they will owe a co-pay for days 21-100, which is $157.50 in 2015 (up from $152). For many Medicare recipients, this co-pay is covered via supplemental insurance.

*Skilled nursing facility coverage is based on meeting criteria (medical necessity for skilled inpatient rehabilitation/care and services are reasonable and necessary for your condition/prognosis). You do not automatically get a full 100 days and for many conditions; less time is very likely. The SNF coverage is also dependent upon a qualifying 3-day hospital stay (observation time does not count; see link above about hospital admissions) for the related condition. 

For the full breakdown of 2015 Medicare costs, see our Medicare 2015 Fact Sheet. We also offer these in printed form for your office/clients. For information or individualized assistance with Medicare, contact us at 727-447-5845.

Don’t forget to review your Medicare D plan for 2015! Open enrollment is from October 15th-December 7th and our patient advocates are standing by to help you ensure you save money and get the best possible coverage (without the sales pitches!).


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Medicare D for 2015


Medicare D History and 2015 Status

It may be hard to believe now, but it was only in 2006 that prescription drug coverage became a standard program under Medicare (created in the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act). Now, more than 17 million Medicare enrollees receive prescription drug coverage via the private plans involved in Medicare’s Part D program.

In 2015, 1,001 prescription drug plans will be offered across the U.S. The number of available plans has varied over the years since Part D began and 2015 has the lowest number of plans thus far. However, enrollees in all states have access to at least a dozen plans (along with additional Medicare Advantage options).

Prescription Drug Coverage Choices

Medicare D is a voluntary program. Typical choices for retirees in terms of how they get prescription drug coverage include: Medicare D, Medicare Advantage Plan (combined coverage via private companies), employer plans (employer sponsored coverage for workers or retirees), VA programs such as TRICARE, and Medicaid. If a Medicare eligible person has creditable (aka similar benefits) coverage, he/she does not have to enroll in Medicare Part D and will face no future penalties. One can also choose not to enroll without creditable coverage, but will later be subject to a penalty if seeking Medicare D coverage (therefore potentially making it worthwhile to sign up for one of the low premium plans even if you don’t take medications or have very small costs that you feel you could handle on your own).

The Doughnut Hole

One of the most confusing aspects of the Part D program as designed in the Medicare Modernization Act was the gap in coverage, known popularly as the “doughnut hole”. This means that beneficiaries have certain coverage up to a level (with the standard benefit in 2015, 25% coinsurance for the beneficiary up to $2960 in total drug costs), then have to bear more of the costs themselves until they hit a “catastrophic level” of costs, when greater coverage kicks in again. See below for a graph from the Kaiser Family Foundation showing how the standard benefit works in 2015 (plans generally offer slightly different benefits than the standard plan, however).

medicare d doughnut hole chartSubsidies for Drug Coverage

Part D includes premium assistance and cost-sharing for low income beneficiaries (less than 150% of poverty, or $17,505 for individuals in 2014) and modest assets (less than $13,440 for individuals in 2014). In 2015, 283 plans will be available for enrollment of Low-Income Subsidy (LIS) recipients for $0 premium. About 11 million people currently take advantage of these low-income subsidies, but there are likely many more beneficiaries who would be eligible. There are a number of Medicaid programs that offer assistance with medical costs as well (look for an upcoming post where we outline these in some depth or contact us if you have immediate questions) and dual-eligible individuals automatically qualify for additional assistance.

Annual Enrollment Period (October 15-December 7)

We’re about a week away from the Medicare D annual open enrollment period, so now’s the time to prepare for 2015! Because plans change every year (many fewer are participating this year for one thing) and your personal situation changes, take the time to make sure you are in the right plan.

We can help! Call us at 727-447-5845 if you’d like help navigating your options for the coming year. Our independent patient advocates do not sell insurance and can offer you the expertise you need to save time and money.

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Payment Concerns
Not sure how you are going to pay for elder care?

Is the Time Right?
Find out if its time to seek help for your loved one.

Aging in Place
How to keep a loved one safe at home, and when it may be time to consider assisted living.

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Mission Statement

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.