As we age, it is essential to have a plan in place for managing our finances. Financial planning for seniors can seem like a daunting task, but with the right information and guidance, it can be a straightforward process.Continue reading
What seems like a simple medical test to the average adult can be significantly more challenging to an elderly person. It is not uncommon for an elderly person to need some assistance or accommodation when having a medical test. Learn how you can help.Continue reading
You can take steps to protect yourself from developing cardiovascular disease, even if you are at risk. The best way to prevent this condition is by following a healthy lifestyle, which includes not smoking, exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight as well as getting enough sleep and regular checkups with your doctor.Continue reading
Home health care offers a convenient and effective alternative to traditional medical care settings for those in need. By providing personalized care in the familiar surroundings of home, it promotes independence, improves quality of life, and facilitates the healing process.Continue reading
It is important to plan for the future and empower ourselves with options that meet our needs and desires. When faced with a life-limiting or terminal illness, many decisions must be made. These decisions can involve financial matters, advance directives, funeral arrangements, how the last days of life will be spent, and other issues. Even though discussing these issues may bring up feelings regarding difficult losses and changes, it is important to be proactive and to communicate in order to ensure choice and control during difficult times.Continue reading
Medicare is a health insurance program provided by the federal government for qualifying individuals, including people age 65 and older, those with certain disabilities, and individuals with end-stage renal disease (ESRD).
Some people may confuse Medicaid and Medicare programs. The primary difference is that Medicaid is a needs-based insurance program while Medicare isn’t. Your income isn’t a determining factor for Medicare qualification.
There are monthly premiums for certain parts of Medicare. Additionally, Medicare does have some limitations and regulations on what it’ll cover for health care costs. Read on to learn more about each part of Medicare, what’s covered, and how to enroll.
When you become eligible for Medicare, you have choices to make. First, you must decide whether you’ll enroll in Part A and B or Part A only and defer Part B. Most people choose Part A because it is premium-free. If you’re enrolled in a health savings account (HSA), you won’t be able to continue contributing to it if you enroll in Part A. Once your A and B choices are made, you can keep Original Medicare and add a supplement and Part D plan or opt for a Medicare Advantage Plan.
Here’s what each part of Medicare covers and costs:
|Medicare Part A|
|Medicare Part B|
|Medicare Part C|
|Medicare Part D|
What isn’t Covered by Medicare?
Original Medicare doesn’t cover certain health services and costs, including:
- Long-term care
- Dental care (with some exceptions)
- Vision exams needed to prescribe glasses
- Cosmetic surgery
- Hearing aids and related exams
- Routine foot care
How Do I Enroll in Medicare?
There are a few different ways to enroll in Medicare. Some people are enrolled in Medicare automatically, and others will have to sign up on their own. Everyone should check with Social Security three months before their expected start date to ensure everything is in order.
You’ll be enrolled automatically in Medicare if you:
- Are already receiving Social Security benefits (at least four months prior to start)
- Receive U.S. Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) benefits (at least four months prior to start)
- Are under the age of 65 but have a social security disability for 24 months
- Have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease or ESRD
You’ll have to enroll in Medicare on your own if you:
- Are about to turn 65
- Are already 65 but not receiving Social Security benefits
There are also some individual circumstances that may change the timing of your enrollment. For instance, if you have employer-sponsored insurance, you may be able to wait to apply for Medicare Part B instead of being required to apply when you turn 65.
Medicare enrollment periods
The Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) for Medicare is a seven-month period beginning three months before you turn 65, the month in which you turn 65, and three months after you turn 65. For example, if you turn 65 on June 14, your IEP is from March 1 through September 30.
If you don’t sign up during your initial enrollment period, and you aren’t covered by an employer health plan or are volunteering overseas for at least 12 months, you’ll begin accruing Part B late enrollment penalties. You’ll only be able to enroll during the General Enrollment Period (GEP). The GEP runs from January 1 through March 31 each year, with coverage starting July 1st.
Medicare Advantage plans cannot start before your Part B start date, so if you don’t enroll in Part B by the end of your IEP, you’ll have to wait until the GEP for Medicare Advantage enrollment also. If you enroll in Part B during the GEP, you can join a Medicare Advantage Plan or a Medicare Drug Plan (Part D) between April 1 and June 30. Your Medigap open enrollment period starts the first month you have Part B and lasts for six months.
When does Medicare coverage start?
Your Medicare coverage start date depends on when you enroll. Remember, during the IEP, you can enroll three months before you turn 65, the month you turn 65, and three months after you turn 65.
|When You Enroll||When Coverage Starts||Example: Turning 65 on May 10|
|The three months before you turn 65||The first day of the month you turn 65||May 1|
|The month you turn 65||The first day of the month after you turn 65||June 1|
|The month after you turn 65||Two months after you sign up||August 1|
|Two or three months after you turn 65||Three months after you sign up|
October 1 (if you enroll in July)
November 1 (if you enroll in August)
If you enroll during your IEP, you can coordinate your ancillary coverage, that is, Medigap and Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage to start the same day as your Medicare Part A and B coverage.
If you enroll during a Special Enrollment Period, coverage generally starts the month after your sign-up.
When you’re ready to apply for Medicare, you can fill out an online application through the Social Security website or in-person at your local Social Security office.
This article was originally published by Medicareplans.com and republished here with permission.
Big Sky Palliative and Hospice believes that choice always exists. Excellent quality of life is always attainable — people with illness can live fully and die well.
When death is accepted as a natural part of life, hope changes but does not disappear. A person faced with serious, life-limiting, or terminal illness need not stop reaching for wishes and dreams. Big Sky Palliative & Hospice has a bias toward saying yes, and we focus on enhancing and maintaining the quality of life as defined by each patient and family.
Hospice is a philosophy aimed at providing palliative (comfort) care to patients in their end-of-life stages. To carry out these services, Big Sky Palliative and Hospice utilizes a medically-directed Interdisciplinary Group that involves patients, their families, professionals, and volunteers. We believe that a “family” includes anyone significant to the patient, regardless of blood relation.
The goals of palliation are comfort, dignity, and quality of life. The difference between this and other treatments designed to cure or control a disease is that palliative care focuses on the person living with the disease rather than on the disease itself. People may choose palliation before “all else has failed” if, in their experience, the burdens of continued curative treatment outweigh its benefits. While Interdisciplinary Team members have expertise in hospice and palliative care, they are not experts in any individual situation. The only experts are the patient and family. They are in charge of determining how their care is planned.
Every effort is made by the hospice team to provide maximum physical comfort for the patient. Hospice then focuses on the heads and hearts of those experiencing the disease process–preparing emotionally and spiritually for death. Big Sky Palliative and Hospice considers it just as important to provide these services to family members as we do to our patients. This is one reason why we provide bereavement counseling for all those grieving the loss of a loved one.
Palliative care does not automatically include nor exclude any specific treatment or approach. Hospice looks at each difficult symptom–from physical pain to anxiety and isolation–and outlines options for addressing that symptom. Multiple choices are always available. The benefits and burdens of each option are considered, and the patient and family select the option that feels most comfortable.
Big Sky Palliative and Hospice was created by seasoned hospice professionals who are committed to providing care that exceeds all expectations. We do this without prejudice in an environment that supports the integrity and dignity of all people, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
You may not think of yourself as a caregiver, but anyone who helps someone else because that person is no longer able to manage some or all of the activities of daily life is considered a caregiver. Whether the caregiver is a relative, spouse, friend, neighbor, volunteer, or medical professional, it is important to identify the caregiver role.
Your journey in the caregiving role may include a wide variety of experiences. While there are often many intrinsic benefits to caregiving – spending time with a cherished loved one, feeling needed, the opportunity to serve – there may also be challenges and special considerations you must take.
Your role as a caregiver is very important, as another individual depends on you. If your well-being suffers, you may become unable to care for another. So, if you’ve accepted the caregiver role, you also have a special responsibility to take care of yourself. That means assessing and taking care of your own physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, interpersonal, and financial needs. When you have attended to your own needs, you will have so much more to give to the person you’re caring for.
Your Physical Health
Physical health is a key caregiver concern. This begins with adequate rest every night. If this is not always possible, then try to fit in naps or break periods during the day. A regular bedtime and a light snack or warm milk may help you fall asleep. Beyond daily rest, you may need periodic breaks from caregiving, and you can plan for a period of respite, such as a long weekend. Discuss this option with a member of your hospice team.
Physical exercise is also important. Regular exercise, for instance, will strengthen you for the rigors of caring for another who needs assistance with their own movement. Generally, physical exercise will help you rest better. It is recommended that you aim for a minimum of 20 minutes of exercise four times a week. Fresh air and sunshine can also lift your spirits, and nature is a great healer.
Good nutrition will facilitate your own health and vigor and support a healthy immune system. If you receive offers of help from others during this time, request a nutritious meal – it is a simple way for others to support you. Any physical illness or healthcare needs should be attended to promptly in order to shorten your recovery time.
Emotional health is closely related to overall health, but may be overlooked. Caregivers experience the full range of human emotions – including anger, guilt, impatience, depression, helplessness, love, loneliness, and isolation – sometimes all at the same time.
At times you may tell yourself that some of these feelings are “good” and others “bad.” Rather than label them, it is important to know that all these feelings are normal. Acknowledge your feelings. Accept them. Realize that your situation is not unique and many other caregivers share these feelings.
It may help to have a close friend or confidant you can call daily. It helps to talk to another person so you don’t become overwhelmed. You might choose to create a list of people you can call. Remember, your Big Sky team is also available to listen and act as a resource for emotional support – we are here not only for the patient but for family and caregivers as well.
Due to the number of tasks that need to be completed, stress is almost inevitable in caregiving, and it is often compounded by inadequate rest. While there is often little to be done to change the circumstances creating stress, there are many ways to cope with it.
The following are some suggestions to help alleviate some of your stress:
- Keep a journal or diary. Writing about your feelings can reduce stress.
- Read a book or listen to music. These activities provide a pleasurable diversion.
- Take a long, relaxing bath with bath salts or aromatic oils.
- Consider getting a therapeutic massage; even a backrub from a friend can help.
- Listen to relaxation tapes – you can find them at a public library.
- Exercise. Physical activity naturally produces chemicals in the body that help reduce tension, anxiety and depression.
- Stay focused in the present moment. Don’t fret about work when you are caregiving or worry about your loved one when you are away.
- Take a few moments in nature to lift your spirits.
- Stroke or brush a pet – this is a therapeutic activity for you and the patient.
- Laughter is healing –watch a funny movie or read a humorous book.
- Pursue a creative outlet or enjoy a hobby, such as playing a musical instrument, singing, sketching or painting, or writing a short poem. These activities can do much to relieve stress and express emotions.
- Perform spiritual practices such as prayer, meditation or inspirational reading.
- Join a support group.
- When offered time off, take it without guilt or worry. The break will refresh you and help you be a better caregiver.
Spirituality is highly personal, widely defined, and important to many individuals. Some find their time as a caregiver reinforces and strengthens their spirituality. Others may be challenged to find the time to participate in their previous spiritual or religious practices while busy with the demands of caregiving. If your personal spirituality is important to you, you may need to temporarily adjust your caregiving. You might add a regular quiet time to your day for prayer, contemplation, or meditation. Time spent in nature can be rejuvenating. Inspirational reading or music may help you stay connected to your spiritual source. Your Big Sky Hospice chaplain is available to talk to you and direct you toward helpful resources.
Making It Happen
Who has time for all of this? Keep in mind that one activity may help to achieve balance in your life. For example, a walk with a friend provides physical exercise and social interaction and is emotionally and spiritually uplifting. Hobby groups may relieve stress and allow you to discuss current events. Singing in a choir provides a change of scenery, a creative outlet, and social contact.
The most important thing is to begin. It may be difficult to make many changes all at once, so select at least one or two areas to work on right away. Set a realistic goal for yourself to maintain your own well-being and regain a sense of control and balance. Big Sky Hospice team members know all about the caregiver role and can help you through any challenges you may encounter during this journey. Don’t hesitate to use them as your own resource.
Learn about the individuals who make up the Hospice care team.Continue reading
‘Hospice’ is a term that describes a specific type of symptom management care for people who will eventually die as a result of a progressive disease. In order to make informed decisions and take advantage of the personalized level of care and services that hospice offers, we can correct our misconceptions.Continue reading