All posts by WOCOA

As a caregiver , you have many items on your plate but one of the most important is that of planning which we never make time to do. We plan for emergency such as hurricanes etc but do you have a plan if something should happen to you? Who would take care of the person you are caring for, ie spouse, parent or other loved one. We do not want to think about what can happen to us as caregiver, but we need to. Caregiver are least likely to take time to ensure that they are current on their shots (flu), medication, that they see a doctor when they are sick, or take time for themselves to de-stress, etc and studies have shown that the loved one can out live the caregiver due to these items. Due to this issues and other that are out of your control, you need to ensure that you have a plan of action on who will be taking care of your loved one. We are taking about items such as you running to the store and having a car accident and having to be taken to the hospital, falling and getting hurt, anything that would stop you from caring for your loved one. Is there anything on your ICE (in case of Emergency) on your phone that shows your emergency information and that your are a caregiver and who to call so they can come an take care of your loved one. If you are not using ICE on your phone or another program like that, do you have anything in your purse or wallet showing your medication and information and who to call to take care of your loved one. We know that you have your loved ones information with you at all times just in case, but do you have yours? The person who they need to call, how soon can they get to your place, do they have keys, do they have paperwork so they can take your loved ones to the doctor if need, etc. Can you loved one be left alone for that length of time, etc. You need to have some sort of plan to cover items such as who is able to come imminently (most times within hours or how ever long your love one can be left alone) to take care of your loved ones, are they current with your loved one condition and how to take care of them. If they haven’t seen them in a while and your love one wouldn’t know them due to changes in their condition (ALZ/remember gotten worse) are they going to be able to take care of them, are they going be able to get in to your place, how long are they going to be able to stay there, If they can only take off for a few days do you have another person to them come in? How are they to be called? Do you have information on this with the 911 system, on your phone or on your person? Do you have a health care surrogate for your self and an alternate other than you for your love one? These are thing no one what to think about but you as a caregiver need to have in place and need to make sure that everyone including your love one (if possible) involve knows about and keep it current. This will give you a little peace of mind and hopefully it will never needs to be put in place.

Holiday Issues

During the Holiday season things can get a little stressful when family comes and visits or when you visit family. Here are a few tips to help with the stress for you, your caregiver (if you have one) and family.

1. First try to keep to your schedule, tell them before hand that you need to eat at certain times but also tell them why, like you have to take your medications a hour after you eat or with a meal and you need to do it at a set time or that you get up early or you don’t get to bed till late,due to not being able to sleep so that they can plan things either in the morning or evening which ever works best. Learn the word “NO” and use it. You can’t do everything
2. Be honest to everyone about your health issues, if you are having to turn up the TV to hear it, getting up a few times in the middle of the night, you can’t see small print, you might be forgetting items, your are “stumbling a lot but not really falling”etc tell your doctor, if you have a caregiver tell them and tell your family. Do not assume the worst, it could be a simple issues that can be corrected.
3. Since you will be around family this time of year or sending cards to family, made a list of your family health issues that you know of. This can be quite helpful since a lot of health issues/disease are hereditary and they can take action to change their lifestyle to help hold off taking medication for the health issue.
4. Also now is a good time to tell everyone what your wishes are. It may sound like a bad time since it the holidays, but it isn’t. You need to make everyone know what you want and you might need to tell them a few times over the course of the year so that they know and can prepare.
5. Try to understand that they might be concerned for you if they only see you a few times a year. You need to talk to them about any issues and how you are planning on address them and take their suggestions in and think on them. We know that giving up any independence is very hard and you don’t want to “be a bother” but if they are offering, it might not be a bother to them. Let them help with some of big and heavy items that you have been putting off most of the year.
6. For the daily caregiver, let them help and you can have them see what some of the issues are, you might have been telling them about but they haven’t listen.

Most of all this should be a enjoyable time of the year, so sit back and let others help or if you don’t have any family, make a new holiday memory by volunteering someplace. Everyone can use extra help during this time of year. You know what you can do so ask your church, your neighbors, your friends if they could use some help doing what you can.

Open Enrollment

It’s that time of year again, Open Enrollment for Medicare and the Marketplace (ACA/Obamacare) which allows you to a chance to review your coverage.

Open enrollment for Medicare is the 15th of Oct to the 7th of Dec. During this time you can change your enrollment type, you can go from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan or from a Medicare Advantage plan back to Original Medicare or change Medicare Advantage plans. Medicare Advantage plans are plans that allows seniors to receive both Medicare Parts A and B benefits through a private health insurer that contracts with Medicare. Plans cover hospitalization, outpatient care, and, often, prescription-drug coverage under one plan. Many plans also kick in extra services that original Medicare doesn’t cover, such as dental and vision care. You need to do research on any plans to make sure that your doctors, the hospital that you want and other services are within the network that the plan covers. You will need to check out the total cost by adding up all possible costs, including monthly premiums, copays, coinsurance, and deductibles, so you’re clear about what your total spending could be for a given year. You can change your Part D plan during this time also. Most people change their Part D plan during this time. When comparing the plans also remember to compare restriction like prior authorization or a quantity limit, so you should look into those things to see what you need to do to access your drugs and networks if the plans have any. You can have different options to receive help with these changes. You can check with Medicare by phone at (800) 633-4227, on line at Medicare.gov, SHINE office at 1-866-531-8011, or an insurance agent. The WOCOA can also help. If you do use an insurance agent understand that if they are not independent agent, then they might be representing a certain plan or certain

If you are under 65 or not on Medicare, then your Open enrollment starts on the 1st of Nov and ends on the 15th of Dec.
You can apply for or renew your Marketplace coverage by visiting HealthCare.gov or by calling the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596. The local Health Department also has a counselor to help with enrollments. When comparing plan under the Market plan it is the same as with Medicare: total health care costs not just the premium you pay to your insurance company every month. Other out-of-pocket costs, like coinsurance or a copayment, can have a big impact on your total health care spending, what benefits each
plan covers, and if the doctors, medical facilities, and
prescription drugs are covered by the plan

Remember you will get letters in the mail, calls from your plan, ads on TV, newspaper, free lunches/dinner to attend, etc to get you to sign up for a certain plan. You have options to help you review plans to ensure that what you have will work for you. Each plan is based on what medication you take, so what works for one will not work out for someone else. Compare and review during the Open Enrollment.