Monday, September 21, 2015

Medicare Turns 50!

Medicare turns 50!! Prior to 1965 when then president Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare and Medicaid into law, many elderly Americans, as well as the nation’s poorest families, were forced to depend on charity for their healthcare needs – either that or go without treatment at all. The emergence of Medicare and Medicaid brought about rapid change – prompting dramatic drops in infant mortality rates and infectious diseases such as influenza and pneumonia. Since then, Medicare and Medicaid have: Filled gaps in healthcare for the elderly and for low income individuals. Transformed care for millions of seniors and people with disabilities. Produced positive, long lasting healthcare results. Now, 50 years later, Medicare and Medicaid are essential elements of the nation’s health care system. Today, Medicare covers more than 55 million Americans, most of whom are 65 years or older. Medicaid, a joint federal and state program, provides health coverage to more than 4.6 million low income older Americans; nearly all of whom are also enrolled in Medicare, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). At the time these programs were signed into law, about half of older adults had no health care coverage. Over the past five decades, Medicare and Medicaid have become essential to the care of older adults and ensuring they have the opportunity to live healthy lives. Medicare serves about 1.7 million older Americans and individuals with disabilities receiving skilled nursing and rehabilitative care. Medicaid is the largest payer of long term services and supports. About 63% of nursing center patients and 19% of assisted living residents rely on Medicaid on any given day for their care. CMS has just released undated Medicare enrollment numbers, showing that more than 55 million Americans are covered by Medicare. In 1966, approximately 19.1 million Americans were covered by Medicare. In 2012, there were nearly 52 million beneficiaries covered by Medicare. Today’ enrollment numbers represent a 3 million person increase during the last three years as the Baby Boom generation has started to retire, CMS says. Community meetings to learn more about Medicare Health Insurance have been planned. TOPIC: Understanding Medicare Plan Choices for 2016 Get updates and learn about the changes to Medicare, the Medicare Health Plans, Medicare Part D, NYS EPIC, and “Extra Help” Low Income Subsidy Program. The Medicare Open Enrollment Period is from October 15th to December 7th, 2015. Information is presented by representatives of the Niagara County Office for the Aging, NYS EPIC Program, and Medicare Advantage Plans Representatives. Medicare Advantage Plan Sales Reps will be present to provide enrollment assistance. DATE LOCATION TIME October 16, 2015 North Tonawanda Senior Center 110 Goundry St., N. Tonawanda 9:30 am October 28, 2015 Lewiston Senior Center 4361 Lower River Rd., Lewiston 9:30 am October 29, 2015 The Dale Association Senior Centre 33 Ontario St., Lockport 9:30 am

Caring for a Loved One

Feeling stretched caring for an older adult? It is well known that caring for a family member with a chronic illness such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, stroke, or other diseases is stressful and takes an enormous physical and emotional toll on caregivers. The Dale Association has received training to conduct a six part training program to enable caregivers to better care for themselves by improving their own self-confidence and problem solving skills. This program has been tested and evaluated through a grant from the U.S. Administration on Aging. Powerful Tools for Caregivers is an educational series designed to provide you with the tools you need to take care of yourself. This program will help family caregivers: reduce stress, improve self-confidence, better communicate your feelings, balance your life, increase ability to make tough decision and locate helpful resources. Current research is finding that taking care of tired caregivers could be as important as providing care for their care-recipients. The class is being offered on Thursdays beginning October 1st and running through November 5th, from 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm at The Dale Association, 33 Ontario Street, Lockport, NY 14094. Two experienced class leaders will conduct each session. Interactive lessons, discussions and brainstorming will help you take the “tools” you choose and put them into action for your life. The cost for the six-week program is $25 and includes a copy of The Caregiver Helpbook, but is covered in full for members of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of WNY and Independent Health. Pre-Registration is required - Call Erie County Senior Services at (716) 858-2177 or email for more information and to register.

Driving Wellness at Every Age

As people get older, their driving patterns change. Most older adults drive safely because they have a lot of experience behind the wheel. Age-related declines in vision, hearing, and other abilities, as well as certain health conditions and medications, can affect driving skills. Retirement, different schedules, and new activities can also affect when and where they drive. When people retire, they no longer drive to work. With more leisure time, they may start new activities, visit friends and family more often, or take more vacations. Like drivers of any age, they use their vehicles to go shopping, do errands, and visit the doctor. Driving is an important part of staying independent. Most older people have drivers’ licenses. They tend to drive fewer miles than younger drivers. But, they are also keeping their licenses longer and driving more miles than in the past, often favoring local roads over highways. As the overall population ages, there will be more older drivers on the road. Driving is a complicated task. It requires people to see and hear clearly; pay close attention to other cars, traffic signs and signals, and pedestrians; and react quickly to events. Drivers must be able to accurately judge distances and speeds and monitor movement on both sides as well in front of them. It’s common for people to have declines in visual, thinking, or physical abilities as they get older. As a result, older drivers are more likely than younger ones to have trouble in certain situations, including making left turns, changing lanes, and navigating through intersections. Driving errors can lead to traffic accidents, injuries, and death. The risk of crashes rises with age, especially after age 75. Studies show that older drivers are more, and less, likely to be involved in certain types of crashes than other drivers. Older drivers are less likely to be involved in crashes related to alcohol use, speeding, and driving at night. But they are more likely to get into crashes: • at intersections (usually in the vehicle that is struck) • in which the front of one vehicle hits the side of another vehicle • where the older driver is merging and the other vehicle is traveling faster or is in the older driver’s blind spot Fortunately, the rate of crashes among adults 65 and over has decreased in recent years. Research suggests that this decline is due to a number of factors, including older adults’ better health, safer cars, and safer roads. In addition, older drivers’ ability to “police” themselves — like not driving at night – and stricter state laws for renewal of driver’s licenses may help. Do you wonder about your driving fitness? A free workshop designed to help older drivers reach and maintain the highest level of safe driving is being offered on September 22nd from 12:30 – 1:30 pm at The Dale Association, 33 Ontario St., Lockport. Information will include natural age related changes and their possible impact on driving performance, strategies to maintain driving fitness, and the driver screening/ evaluation process. Lisa Thorpe, Occupational Therapist and Driver Rehabilitation Specialist, ECMC will be presenter. Please register for this free workshop by calling 433-1886. The Dale Association is a unique non profit organization which has been responding to needs of adults in our Niagara community for 64 years. It has been said many times that our services help make lives better and we are proud to be able to do this for people with so many different needs. The Dale Association’s mission is to provide comprehensive services and coordinate connections for adults in Niagara and neighboring counties which enhance their health and wellness and empower them to build bridges into their communities. This important mission is the focal point of each program – including our Senior Services, Mental Health Services, Enrichment Activities, and Caregiver Support Services. Our Senior Services offer activities that enhance health, encourages community involvement, utilizes years of experience and allows for the development of friendships, as well as a sole local resource for the visually and hearing impaired. Memory Minders a social program for individuals with mild memory loss is also among The Dale Association’s community support services helping to improve the quality of life for adults. Our Mental Health Services have the clearly stated goal of assisting people to remain emotionally stable and living independently in the community. The Enrichment Activities are geared to developing and enhancing skills with the objective of adding to the quality of life. The goal of Caregiver Support Services is to help informal caregivers’ ability to manage and coordinate care. For more information about The Dale Association or its programs, please visit or our blog at http://www.ExceptionalYouAtTheDale.blogspot. Side Bar: WHAT: A Road Map to Driving Wellness – FREE Workshop WHEN: September 22, 2015 TIME: 12:30 – 1:30 pm PLACE: The Dale Association 33 Ontario St, Lockport, NY RSVP: 433-1886