Seniors Confused Over Healthcare Changes

With all of the changes in healthcare it is hard for many seniors to keep on top of what’s changing and what is not. Lori-Ann Rickard brings clarity for seniors in this blog article. Lori-Ann Rickard, JD, CPC, CAC, is a health care lawyer with 27 years of national experience navigating the law for the benefit of physicians, health care providers, employers and patients.

Many seniors are currently confused about all the information being released on the Accountable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as ObamaCare. Much of this confusion is caused by the media constantly releasing information. Much of the information is simply not true.

confusedsenior-MP900442327Let’s look at the facts. First, seniors should know that Medicare is not impacted by the ACA or ObamaCare. Medicare remains intact and unchanged. If the senior has already qualified for Medicare, he/she will keep their Medicare coverage. Similarly, the age limit for Medicare has not changed. Further, many seniors believe the “donut hole” coverage gap has increased. This is not true. In fact, the coverage gap has actually gone down by $7 Million dollars according to government sources. Thus, seniors do not have to change doctors, medication plans, their budget, etc.

The enrollment period for Medicare remains the same: October 15 – December 7, 2013.  This enrollment period should not be confused with the enrollment period for the health exchanges for ObamaCare which begins October 1. During the Medicare enrollment period, seniors will be able to select their Medicare coverage. Most seniors have gotten very good at determining which Medicare coverage is best for them. If they are in need of assistance, many hospitals, community groups, etc. offer help selecting the right Medicare coverage. Additionally, many questions can be answered on the Center for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) website that is very user friendly and helpful:  www.medicare.gov

It is important to remember that seniors cannot enroll in Medicare in the health exchanges being set up for ObamaCare. If you are trying to enroll in Medicare, you need to be looking at a Medicare website or contacting Medicare directly.

Further, it is imperative that seniors should never give out their personal information to anyone soliciting their information. There is a growing amount of fraud surrounding all the confusion over healthcare and all seniors should beware.  If someone they don’t know contacts them for their personal information, they should immediately report it to: stopmedicarefraud@hhs.gov or call 1-800-447-8477. Similarly, if they receive a billing statement from a provider they don’t recognize, they should report it.

Healthcare is ever-changing and confusing.  We need to work together to demystify all of the information.  But most importantly: Medicare is not changing.

Enriched Life Home Care Services is grateful to Lori-Ann for helping clarify how these healthcare changes affect seniors. If you would like to read more about Lori-Ann or other topics please visit her health blog at www.larlegal.com/blog or Twitter: @larlegal

Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease – A Day in the Life of Rick Phelps

We have a special guest blog from Rick Phelps. Rick was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease in June of 2010 at the age of 57. Rick is passionate about bringing awareness to this disease and is the Founder of Memory People, an Alzheimer’s and dementia support and awareness group on Facebook. We hope that you will take a few moments to read Rick’s story to learn more about this disease and how devastating the effects can be on anyone that suffers from it.

When you have this disease there are times when you know things just aren’t right. It’s very difficult to explain, but I remember when I woke up one day and could no longer understand the concept of time.

To say it was scary is an understatement. That day changed everything. Everything we do in our daily lives revolves around time. You know when to be somewhere, because your brain has this internal clock that is in the back of your mind telling you, I have to get the kids after school.

Or to lay something out in the morning for dinner that night. The list goes on and on how your brain tells you, “Hey, it’s time to check the roast.” or “I have an eye appointment tomorrow @ 9:00am.”

RickPhelps-photo

When I lost the concept of time I was sure there would be nothing worse that could happen. I was wrong.

For weeks now, slowly but surely I have noticed I can no longer recognize things. I look for whatever it may be that I can’t find, and found I can be looking right at it and not see it.

My brain no longer allows me to understand or recognize what I am looking for. I searched for the tv remote, looked everywhere. Took the cushions off our recliner, moved it thinking it may have fallen under it.

Looked all over the front room, and even some other rooms, thinking I may have had it in my hand and laid it down somewhere. Then hours later, for whatever reason, I seen it.

Right beside the chair I sit in, on the magazine rack right where it is always kept. It had been there all along and I did not see it. Or rather I seen it, but did not recognize it.

We are putting in our old counter tops from the kitchen in our garage, with the guidance of my Uncle who has been doing this type of work his entire life.

I can’t tell you the problems this has created for me. We wanted the sink, counter tops, and we are putting in a couple other shelves for storage. Will be very nice when we are done.

Problem is, I can’t find anything. If I am using my drill, and need to change from a drill bit to a Phillips head, I can be looking right at the case that holds the drill bits and never see it.

Every time I need something, a ruler, a screw driver, hammer, nail, pencil…things you would normally just look at and know it’s what you need, doesn’t work anymore.

This has been an issue for some time. Couple months. But like this disease always does it is progressing, getting worse. I finally broke down last night and told my wife, Phyllis June.

We don’t keep things from each other, but I had this because I knew it would just upset and worry her. I know there’s nothing that can be done. Deal with it, it is my “new normal”.

It’s just something I never really even entertained happening. Or if I did, I had forgotten. Not being able to recognize things is devastating. Not knowing where I put something last.

I can open the refrigerator to get the milk, but once I open it I cannot find the milk that is right there in front of me all along. My next doctor appointment isn’t till Oct., but with this revelation I am thinking of having Phyllis June call and see if I can get in earlier.

But then I think, why? There isn’t a thing he or anyone else can do. It’s just normal that when something like this happens you want to get it fixed. Find a pill or some procedure that will make it possible so I again can recognize what I am looking for.

Wanting things to be normal. That’s what we all want. Instead we have to deal with our “new normal” which is forever changing. I worry, I wonder, what could possibly next?

But deep down I know, that is the one thing I also dread. It is a form of denial. Knowing what is coming, yet saying I wonder. You simply must deal with what you have, or I should say what you used to have.

The worst thing about this disease for me is losing my mind, and knowing it is happening right in front of me. And not one person on earth can slow the progression or stop it all together…

Is it any wonder patients lose their composure? Become agitated over almost anything? Even become abusive, or recluse? I could imagine, except now I am living it.

Daily, hourly, every minute. It’s the disease, it’s always the disease…and some days I can’t take another second of it. Today is one of those days. With many more to follow.

We’d like to thank Rick for sharing his personal story to bring awareness of this disease to others. To learn more about Rick and his story you can visit his website at http://whileistillcan.net

If you or someone you know has been touched by dementia or you’d like more information, please join other patients, caregivers, and advocates all walking this journey together at the Memory People Facebook page at

https://www.facebook.com/groups/180666768616259

 

Helpful Tips for Caregivers

We are excited to introduce Tanvi Patel, MA, LPC-S, NCC as our guest blogger. Tanvi is a licensed therapist and trained mediator. Tanvi has a wealth of expert advice on a variety of topics and presents helpful points for those that are currently caring for a loved one.

When I think of Elder Care, I think of my grandparents, I think of the future and what my parents might need, and I think of how I’d like to live out these so-called “golden years.”  Over the last decades, as Americans continue to push the average senior age higher and higher, a lot of focus has been turned toward seniors and all that is entailed.  Retirement funds need to be larger, healthcare funds need to be allocated, families join together to accommodate an aging family member, depression and existential crises need to be explored and when appropriate, treated therapeutically. The list goes on. But today in this piece, I’d like to focus on the role of the caregiver and helpful points to consider in caring for an elder loved one.

Family-Caregivers

Caregivers come in all shapes and sizes increasingly as many homes are two income homes and time is a scarce commodity.  Nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, counselors, social workers, home health care workers, sons and daughters, spouses, in laws, nieces, nephews, friends.  This list goes on too.  With so many individuals providing care for aging loved ones, it is important to keep a few things in mind to help clarify the role of caregiver, to help resolve any feelings of resentment and guilt, and to help manage stress and to help stay informed.

Helpful points in caring for an elder loved one:

  • Always take care of yourself.  You cannot adequately help others if you are not okay.  Stay healthy physically, emotionally and mentally.
  • Seek out other caregivers in similar roles to yours.  Share the struggle, it is not easy.  You are not alone. Create a group that talks over coffee or an online forum to stay in touch.
  • Manage stress when providing care.  It’s important to remember that the senior individual is not purposefully trying to make you angry or irritate you or single you out, etc.  In order to increase patience and efficacy in caregiving, find ways to manage your own stressors and leave them at the door when interacting with a senior.  This will also help decrease any feelings of guilt when losing patience with an elder loved one.
  • Cut yourself some slack.  Even though stress can be managed, the role of a caregiver is sometimes too stressful for one person.  Find help if you need.  This will only increase the care you provide and in turn increase the quality of life for the senior.
  • Stay in the loop.  Sign up for blogs, newsletters, mailing lists, etc. and become informed about any conditions that the senior you care for has.  This will help you separate symptoms from normal interaction with the senior, and help preserve the relationship.
  • Always remember to respect the full life this senior has lived.  Many times with diseases such as dementia or Alzheimer’s when seniors’ behaviors might mirror children’s behaviors it can be easy to slip into treating them as such.  Treating seniors with dignity will help improve care and the relationship you have with them.  And it’s the right thing to do.  This will also remove any guilt you may have for reacting to a symptom versus managing the elder’s symptom.

These may sound like simple points, but they can be crucial to the efficacy and well-being of the caregiver. In my practice, I see caregivers burn out, have increased anxiety, have feelings of resentment, guilt or depression, and are struggling to continue care of their loved one.  Following these points can help enormously and keep the caregiver in a healthy, functioning state of mind in order to provide the senior with the effective and compassionate care they need.

To learn more about Tanvi and all the services she offers, visit her website http://www.counselingandmediation.com

Disclosure:  If some of these circumstances apply to you and are interfering with your ability to continue providing care or living functionally, it may be time to seek professional help. 

We would like to thank Tanvi for providing these helpful tips for caregivers. At Enriched Life Home Care Services, we understand the crucial role that a caregiver can play in someone’s life. We are here to answer questions and offer home care solutions to help you provide the best care for your loved ones.

Enriched Life Home Care Services  |   www.ELHCS.com