Thursday, May 16, 2013

NYS EPIC in 2013

On January 1, 2013, the NYS Elderly Pharmaceutical Coverage (EPIC) program had many prescription benefits restored.  EPIC will provide expanded coverage for those enrolled in Medicare Part D drug plans throughout the year instead of just in the Part D coverage gap.  This change will result in additional savings for members to purchase needed medications.

EPIC members must be enrolled in a Medicare Part D drug plan in order to receive the benefits.  EPIC will provide secondary prescription coverage for Medicare Part D and EPIC covered drugs after any Medicare Part D deductible is met.  Additionally, EPIC will also cover many Part D excluded drugs.  EPIC co-payments will continue to be $3, $7, $15 and $20.

The EPIC fee and deductible plans will be restored. Lower income members will pay an annual fee for coverage and will pay EPIC co-payments for drugs.  Higher income members must meet an annual EPIC deductible before paying EPIC co-payments for drugs.

For many seniors, it is less expensive to enroll in EPIC and Medicare Part D than just Part D alone.  EPIC pays the Part D drug plan premiums up to $43.22 per month in 2013 for members with incomes up to $23,000 single or $29,000 married.  Higher income members are responsible for paying their Medicare Part D premiums but will receive Part D assistance in the form of a reduced EPIC deductible.

A NYS EPIC regional outreach representative will be available to help answer questions and enroll seniors who would like to join EPIC. 
                DATE:    May 30, 2013
                PLACE:   The Dale Association
                                33 Ontario Street, Lockport, NY 14094
                TIME:     10:00am – 12:00noon

Please bring proof of 2012 income (including Social Security income) and Medicare ID card.

It is easy to join EPIC.  You must be a New York State resident, 65 years of age or older, have annual income below $35,000 single or $50,000 married, be enrolled in Medicare Part D drug plan and not receiving full Medicaid benefits.  You may apply for EPIC at any time during the year and will receive a Special Enrollment Period from Medicare allowing you to join Part D drug plan.  If you have union or retiree benefits, you should contact your benefit office to see if you are eligible to join a Part D drug plan.  If you would like more information on the NYS EPIC program, call the toll-free EPIC helpline at 1-800-332-2742 or visit the EPIC website at

Monday, May 13, 2013

Older Americans Month

Welcome to Older Americans Month – a proud tradition that shows commitment to honoring the value that elders contribute to our community.  Every year since 1963, May has been a month to appreciate and celebrate the vitality and aspirations of older adults and their contributions to our communities. The theme for Older Americans Month 2013, Unleash the Power of Age, has never been more fitting. Older Americans are productive, active, and influential members of society, sharing essential talents, wisdom, and life experience with their families, friends, and neighbors.
Our nation is in the midst of a boom in the aging population.  Older people are living longer and staying healthier and more active much later in life. When Older Americans Month was established in 1963, only 17 million living Americans had reached their 65th birthdays. About a third of older Americans lived in poverty and there were few programs to meet their needs. Interest in older Americans and their concerns was growing, however. In April of 1963, President John F. Kennedy's meeting with the National Council of Senior Citizens served as a prelude to designating May as "Senior Citizens Month."
Thanks to President Jimmy Carter's 1980 designation, what was once called Senior Citizens Month, is now called "Older Americans Month," and has become a tradition. Historically, “Older Americans Month” has been a time to acknowledge the contributions of past and current older persons to our country, in particular those who defended our country. Every President since JFK has issued a formal proclamation during or before the month of May asking that the entire nation pays tribute in some way to older persons in their communities. “Older American’s Month” is celebrated all across the nation as well as locally. President Obama has also proclaimed May “Older Americans Month”.
To honor and celebrate older American’s locally, The Dale Association has scheduled some activities throughout the month of May. 
            Eat Smart – Health and wellness seminar – 6 Wednesdays starting May 15, 2013 from 1:00 – 2:00pm. Classes are friendly and interactive.
May 16, 2012 at 10:30am – Volunteer Recognition Luncheon. A wonderful opportunity to thank volunteers for all they do.  The work at The Dale Association would not be possible without all the efforts of our wonderful volunteers.
May 17, 2013 at 10:15am - Osteoporosis – The Silent Disease .  Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become thin, weak and break easily. It is called the silent disease because you cannot feel or see your bones become weaker.
May 22, 2013 at 11:00 am – Decision Making Day, sponsored by Elder Law section of New York State Bar Association. Free presentation explaining legal procedures and documents to help people make informed health care and financial decisions.  Also, a “legal checklist” with an overview of legal documents every New Yorker should be aware of.
            Miscellaneous other and ongoing activities – other fun activities with the adult in mind include trips, yoga, chair exercise, intergenerational programs, social sewing group, quilting group, candy makers, “Keenagers” group, Timely Topics discussion group, cards, volunteer opportunities and more.
Older Americans Month was established to show appreciation and support for seniors as they continue to enrich and strengthen the communities in which they live – I hope you will join us sometime during the month of May.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Volunteering Is Good For The Volunteer, Too!

People volunteer for various reasons; some of which are more obvious than others. The tradition has long been that volunteering is a form of charity and the best volunteering does involve the desire to help others.  It is okay, though, to want to benefit yourself from volunteering, too.

Studies show that giving back can have numerous health benefits. The Corporation for National and Community Service released a report on the health benefits of volunteering, which showed that, "States with higher volunteer rates also have better health and that there is a significant statistical relationship between states with higher volunteer rates and lower incidents of mortality and heart disease."

Numerous scientific studies show that acts of kindness can result in significant mental and physical health benefits. Helping can bring on a rush of euphoria, followed by a longer period of calm, often called a "helper's high" that releases the body's natural painkiller, endorphins, thus reversing feelings of depression, hostility and stress. Reducing stress can have such health benefits as reducing obesity, sleeplessness, acid stomach, backache, headache and more, according to the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.

Since retiring as assistant director of surgery, Barb Felix has been volunteering for the better part of the past 15 years.  She knows first-hand about the benefits of volunteering.  Barb says, “I enjoy working with people and volunteering is a good way to stay active in the community.”  She goes on to say, “The Dale is a super place in our community and I’m happy to help in any way possible.” Over the years, Barb has volunteered in many different capacities, including helping in the gift shop, quilting group, and most currently at the information desk.  Barb also spends time volunteering at her church.

From the Random Act of Kindness Foundation, here are a few more “happy” statistics about volunteerism
*  The greater the frequency of volunteering, the greater the health benefits. *  Personal contact with the people being helped is important.
*“Helper's high” results most from helping people we don't know.
*  Regular club attendance, volunteering, entertaining or faith group attendance is the happiness equivalent of getting a college degree or more than doubling your income.

After retiring from nursing seven years ago, Dottie Deer was also looking for the opportunity to volunteer. Dottie says, “Volunteering is a good way to feel good about yourself, helps keep you young, helps keep you active, and helps keep you involved.” Dottie’s various volunteer roles include calling homebound elders, advocating for nursing home residents, helping with special events, and working with youth through intergenerational programs. 

Trends in volunteering show:  nationally, 109 million people volunteer; corporate volunteering is up – 81% of companies surveyed connect volunteering to their overall business strategies, and 28 million senior volunteers gave approximately 5 billion hours of time annually, which is a value of $71.2 billion to non-profit organizations and causes in the United States. In a recent volunteerism survey, 44% of American adults volunteered their time in some way with an organization.  Traditionally, women are more likely to volunteer than men.  Today’s volunteers are aware of the value of their contributions and they are selective about where they invest their time and energy.

Volunteers come from all walks of life.  Joyce Wood worked as a loan officer for 35 years and has been volunteering for the past 8-10 years.  According to Joyce, she likes a challenge and seeks volunteer opportunities that challenge her.  “It makes me feel young!” according to Joyce. 

Nancy Poole, who has been volunteering for the past 7 years, since retiring from Sherwood after 36 years likes to volunteer because she likes people and likes to get out of the house.  Nancy says, “I admit I’m a ‘couch potato’ and volunteering helps get me out of the recliner.  I get to meet more people now that I volunteer.  I encourage others to look into volunteering – it’s a great experience.”   Nancy is contributing her time and talent by helping at Memory Minders early memory loss program, Bingo, front desk and various events/activities.   

To find the right opportunity for you, select an organization that supports issues that matter to you.  What type of things are you good at and like to do?  What time do you have available?  Volunteer opportunities are available whether you have one day to donate or are looking for ongoing regularly scheduled assignments.  Choose situations to work with a group of people if that is what you are comfortable with.  Opportunities are also available if you prefer to work independently.  It is important to volunteer with an organization which can match what you are looking for from your volunteer experience. If you are looking for a “helper’s high” or to just want to help – make time to volunteer.

To everyone who has given so generously of his or her time volunteering this past year, THANK YOU!  Keep up the good work, you are so needed.  I hope you will be able join the Volunteer Recognition Event scheduled for May 16th starting at 10:30am.

Senior Citizen Issues Addressed at Forum

What do Aging in Place, changes to Social Security and Medicare, EPIC changes, Dementia Care, prescription drugs all have in common?  These topics are of interest to older adults and the opportunity to hear directly from a panel of experts on these subjects is coming up on Friday, May 10, 2013 from 1:00 – 3:00pm at The Dale Association, 33 Ontario Street, Lockport.   The Senior Forum is open to the public and free to attend.

Angie Blackley, Senior Counselor at The Dale Association and coordinator of the forum is encouraging the public to attend.  She says, “It is important for people to stay abreast of the issues that affect seniors.  People can attend and hear directly from the decision makers about topics that are of such significance.”  She goes on to say, “The panel will also have the opportunity to hear vital opinions from people who are affected by the policies and decisions being made.  We are glad to bring together important groups of people around topics that are critical to each constituent.”

Guest panel members will include:
New York State Senator George Maziarz
New York State Office for Aging Acting Director, Greg Olsen
Niagara County Legislator Wm. Keith McNall
Niagara County Office for the Aging Director Ken Genewick
Niagara County Office for the Aging Information and Assistance   Coordinator - Susan Christian
Town of Lockport Councilwoman Cheryl Antkowiak
EPIC Representative Gabrielle Dotterweich
Lockport Police Chief Larry Eggert
Associate Director NYS AARP Bill Armbruster
Professor D’Youville College of Pharmacy Michelle Lewis

I hope the public will attend and hear first hand what is happening with issues affecting seniors locally.  Please call 433-1886 to reserve your seat.  Refreshments will be served.

Yoga Can Be Beneficial For Caregivers

Yoga has been shown in research to help people with a multitude of health problems, including relieving back pain and lowering stress - it may even lead to lower blood pressure.  But now, it turns out yoga doesn't just help the person with the ailment - it could also help the person taking care of the person with the ailment.

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles found that meditation from yoga can help lower depression in caregivers, and may also improve their cognitive functioning.  The researchers even found that the meditation was associated with a decrease in cellular aging from stress.

"To a varying degree, many psychosocial interventions like this have been shown to enhance mental health for caregivers," study researchers said.  "Yet given the magnitude of the caregiver burden, it is surprising that very few interventions translate into clinical practice. The cost of instruction and offering classes may be one factor. Our study suggests a simple, low-cost yoga program can enhance coping and quality of life for the caregivers."
Researchers reported that caregivers are known to be at an increased risk of depression and devotional distress -  plus, many caregivers tend to be older, which can lead to a lowered defense against stress and conditions like heart disease.

According to the American Medical Association, 16 percent of caregivers have worsened health after they've begun caring for someone.  A caregiver is anyone who provides assistance to someone who is in need of care. This could involve caring for a spouse who has suffered a stroke, a child with muscular dystrophy, a mother-in-law with Alzheimer's disease, or a grandfather with cancer. Most caregivers are unpaid family members or friends who provide care on either a full- or part-time basis. It is estimated that 80 percent of caregivers provide caregiving assistance seven days per week, and the care usually involves personal care assistance and household maintenance chores.

Caregiving can be stressful and may contribute to serious illness and depression. Studies show that  caregivers report that their health has worsened since taking on the caregiver role, and about half of caregivers who care for someone with Alzheimer's disease develop psychological distress.  In addition, caregiving can result in new financial burdens, with 40 percent of caregivers incurring new financial expenses for care related products, services, and activities. It is estimated that 26 percent of caregivers spend up to 10 percent of their monthly income on caregiving activities.

For the study, researchers separated the study participants into two groups: One was taught a 12-minute yoga routine, done every day for eight weeks. The other group relaxed with eyes closed for 12 minutes a day to a relaxation CD with instrumental music.

By the end of the study period, researchers found that in the yoga group, 65 percent of people had a 50 percent better score on a depression scale, and 52 percent had a 50 percent better mental health score. Among people in the relaxation group, on the other hand, 31 percent had a better score on the depression scale and 19 percent had a better score in mental health.