Monday, September 11, 2017

Medicare Advantaged Explained

Medicare Advantage: 20 years, 20 million people and 4 factors

elderly couple on ipad
In 1997, the federal government created the Medicare + Choice program — later renamed Medicare Advantage — to enhance consumer choice and more efficiently deliver Medicare benefits to older Americans.

You may have heard of Medicare Advantage, but maybe you don’t know exactly what it is, what it offers and how it can help you.

Today, Medicare Advantage serves almost 20 million people — a nearly 50 percent increase from even five years ago, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Here are four important factors in why people choose Medicare Advantage:



  1. Simplicity and convenience. Medicare Advantage plans combine all

Friday, September 8, 2017

Vitamins and Drug Interactions - Are Personalized Vitamins the Answer?

The key to personalized vitamins: Understanding medication and nutrient interactions

man swallowing vitamin
Technology, science and research are turning our world into a personalized powerhouse at our fingertips, including products made specifically for us delivered to our doorsteps. We wear personal fitness trackers to track our steps, sleep and heart rates. Personal trainers are commonplace to design fitness routines that are made just for us. Today, we understand that our family history, lifestyle choices and even genetics are predictive of our health needs and this information is integrated into our health care plans. With all of this personalization, our nutritional supplement options still deliver the same cookie-cutter solutions found in store aisles.

According to New Nutrition Business and its report “10 Key Trends in Food, Nutrition and Health 2017,” personalized nutrition is the next

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Staying In Touch With The Grandparents

Try these 5 ways to keep in touch with grandparents near and far

grandparents with granddaughter
There are laundry lists of reasons why grandparents are the best. They say yes when parents say no, they tell the best stories but make even better listeners, and often they’re the first people we call with news, both good and bad.

That’s why each September, we celebrate National Grandparents Day — a day of recognition for all the amazing “nanas” and “pop-pops” out there. But connecting with Grandma and Grandpa shouldn’t be just one day a year. Whether near or far, grandparents can keep connected to their family’s lives any day of the year with the following tips.

Make a daily photo album

When family members live far away it can be difficult to stay up-to-date on what’s new in their lives. It’s easy to forget to call one another and share

Thursday, August 17, 2017

3 Important Tips To Avoid Scams Targeting Seniors

Anyone who’s retired knows how important maintaining your nest egg is. 

You want to be able to comfortably live off the distributions from the money you worked so hard to earn throughout your life. Unfortunately, scammers are also aware that seniors are financially stable compared to the rest of the population, which makes them a target. 20% of Americans age 65 and up have been defrauded financially. Bearing this in mind, it’s of the utmost importance to be aware of how to recognize and avoid scams, whether you’re a senior or a caregiver providing for a senior.

Tip 1: A member of government or the IRS will never ask you to reveal personal information over the phone

One of the most common scam tactics is to impersonate a government official. These scammers will call seniors and demand that they reveal personal information like their social security number (SSN), because of some false charge of tax fraud or some other made up crime.

Tip 2: An email claiming you won money and asking for financial information to send you the winnings should be an immediate red flag


This type of scam is called “phishing” and can take

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

5 Ways To Save Money on Prescription Drugs

Use these easy tips to help save money on prescription drug costs.

Modern medications can work wonders, improving quality of life, curing illness and even saving lives. However, those miracles can come at a high cost, as anyone who's had to pay for branded prescription medication knows. In fact, spending on prescription drugs has increased 73 percent in the past seven years, according to a new report from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA).


What's driving the increase in prescription drug costs


The Health of America Report found prescription drug spending by Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) members increased 10 percent annually since 2010. High costs of patent-protected prescription drugs account for the lion's share of the total increase.

Generic drugs account for 82 percent of total prescriptions filled, but account for just 37 percent of total drug spending. By contrast, patent-protected prescription drugs comprise less than 10 percent of all prescriptions filled but account for 63 percent of total drug spending, the report found.

"Experience and past price trends suggest drug costs will continue to rise in the future," says Maureen Sullivan, chief strategy and innovation officer for BCBS. "The need for more affordable generic alternatives to costly patent-protected brand-name pharmaceuticals is urgent. As prices continue to rise, more consumers will be looking for ways to curb the cost of their medications."

What you can do to lower the cost of your prescription drugs

It is possible to lower your drug costs while still taking the medications your doctor has prescribed to help your health. BCBSA offers some guidance:


  • If your doctor prescribes a costly name-brand medication, ask your physician or pharmacist if a generic version is available. Generic drugs are identical to their brand-name equivalents in dosage form, safety, strength and quality, how you take them, performance and intended use, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Generics typically cost less than name-brand medications. The BCBSA report shows how costs for medicines like Lipitor (atorvastatin) and Avapro (irbesartan) plummet when generic alternatives become available.


  • It may be possible for your doctor to prescribe a higher strength than you need of a particular medication and allow you to split the tablet or pill to get the lower dose you need at a lower cost. In fact, many pills that can be safely split come pre-scored with an indentation that makes it easier to cut them in half. However, not all prescription medications can be safely split, so be sure to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about whether it's safe to split your medications.


  • Ordering prescription drug medications through the mail could lower drug costs, but it's important to ensure you're buying from your pharmacy benefit manager, typically listed on the back of an insurance card. The FDA recommends you only purchase drugs from organizations located in the U.S. and licensed by the state board of pharmacy where the company operates (find a list of state boards of pharmacy at www.nabp.info). The mail order pharmacy should have a licensed pharmacist available to answer your questions, require a prescription from your doctor in order to sell you medication, and have someone you can talk to directly if you have questions or problems.


  • Another way to reduce prescription drug costs is to ask your doctor to write your prescription for a 90-day supply so that you will get a three-month supply of the medication for the price of one co-pay.


  • Finally, review your prescriptions with your doctor at least every six months to ensure you're not taking any more medicines than you absolutely need. However, never skip doses of medicine, avoid refilling a prescription or stop taking medicine altogether without first consulting your doctor.

Medical Alert System with fall detection pendant
Remember, taking multiple prescription drugs can sometimes cause unintended side effects, including dizziness, disorientation and confusion.  A medical alert system with automatic fall detection built into the pendant can help reduce the risk of falling in the event of a prescription drug medication interaction.

For more information about prescription drug costs, and to read the full Health of America report, visit www.bcbs.com/healthofamerica.

Editors Note: Article courtesy of BPT.  All product names, logos, and brands are property of their respective owners and used for identification purposes only. Use of these names, logos, and brands does not imply endorsement.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Maintaining Your Independence with Home Health Services

Staying healthy and out of the hospital is a top priority for the majority of seniors. 

However, as you age, you may need additional care to meet your medical needs after an illness, injury or exacerbation of a chronic health problem. Fortunately, this doesn't necessarily mean a long hospital or rehab stay, thanks to home health service options.

For Yoko and Kenneth Gilbert, both age 84, home health services provided important care when they needed it the most. After an injury caused by a fall Yoko needed nursing care for her wounds. She also needed physical therapy to regain her ability to get around. Her husband's help could only go so far, but he could not provide the professional care that she required, so at her doctor's advice, she decided to get home health services.



What is home health care?


According to Medicare.gov, "Home health care is a wide range of health care services that can be given in your home for an illness or injury. Home health care is usually less expensive, more convenient and just as effective as care you get in a hospital or skilled nursing facility (SNF)."

Every home health plan of care is individualized based on the person's unique medical needs and abilities. The goal is to treat the person's medical condition at home so that he or she can enjoy a high quality of life while receiving professional services designed to restore health, self-sufficiency and independence.

For Yoko, this gave her important peace of mind. She decided to work with Brookdale Home Health for her specific needs. "They came every week, changed my dressing and catheter," she says. "Everything was just great."

When are home health services used?


For seniors residing at home or in a senior living community, both medical and non-medical home care are options. The people most likely to need home health services are those recently diagnosed with a new illness, those who have been injured in a fall or other event, and those who have experienced a major change in health condition such as the worsening of a chronic disease process.

To provide these services, a health care professional will come to your place of residence. This may include a nurse, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a speech therapist, a home health aide or a medical social worker. Because these professionals come to you, you're able to remain in the comfort and security of your own home. Receiving care at home enhances your physical and mental well-being and promotes dignity and independence.

For Yoko, part of her home health care services were provided by a physical therapist named Barbara. "Barbara was wonderful," she says. "She took care of me, she pushed me and because of her I can move around better."

Yoko's husband, Kenneth, says the services were more than just health care. "Brookdale Home Health helped her a lot. Her therapists really lifted her spirits," he adds.

How can you get home health services?


Before Yoko could receive home health care, she got a referral from her doctor. A doctor is in charge of determining whether you are a candidate for home health services. If you think you are a candidate, it's important to have an honest conversation with your physician to see if home health is the right option for you.

If your doctor decides that home health is right for you, begin to research options in your area. With a doctor's prescription, the Brookdale Home Health team of experts can provide care based upon your unique medical needs in the privacy of your home.

Is home health covered by insurance?


Home health services are often covered by health insurance, but you should verify the details with your particular plan provider. Many plans offer 100 percent coverage if certain conditions are met. For example, Brookdale Home Health services may be covered by 100 percent of your Medicare Part A benefit if your doctor determines that you are homebound and that home health services are medically necessary to treat your illness, injury or change in medical condition.

For those who have to pay out of pocket, home health services often start at around $20 an hour with a three hour minimum, depending on the level of service needed.  Many clients with medical alert systems enjoy having someone come by to do light cleaning and housekeeping, but keep their medical alert button in the event of an emergency.

Yoko saw great improvements in her condition through home health services. However, she eventually experienced additional medical complications that require 24 hour care. Her husband could not keep up with the demands and sought respite care in a Brookdale community. After receiving respite services, they have decided to move in to a Brookdale Senior Living community full-time.

"My wife got sick and there was no way I could take care of her," says Kenneth. "We moved into a Brookdale community on Valentine's Day and we've been here ever since."

Today they are permanent residents of Patriot Heights in San Antonio, Texas, where they receive the full-time care they need, enjoy a full social calendar and have made many new friends.

- Article Courtesy of BPT

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Over 60? How To Look Stylish and Fabulous!

60-plus? Try these smart fashion tips to keep yourself looking stylish and fabulous.


Muumuus and mom jeans or spangled capris and Aloha shirts - is this really all the fashion world has to offer women over the age of 60? Do mature women who desire to dress fashionably for summer really have to choose between "frumpy and fogey" or "too young and trendy?"

Not at all, says Catherine Brock, who blogs about style on thebudgetfashionista.com.

"Reaching a certain age doesn't mean you have to give up your love of fashion, or that you can't be stylish," Brock says. "In our youth-obsessed society, many fashion trends are geared for young women, but truly stylish clothing can work for women of any age."

Joyce Williams (name changed to protect her privacy), a resident of Brookdale Belle Meade Senior Living Community in Nashville, Tennessee, agrees. Williams didn't leave her lifelong love of fashion behind upon moving into the senior community. Instead, she remains an avid reader of fashion magazines, and designs and makes her own jewelry to accessorize her wardrobe. She happily shares fashion advice with other residents who seek to remain stylish after 60.

Here are some of Brock's and Williams' favorite tips and insights for senior ladies:


  • Senior women can have trouble finding fashion images that feature women who could be their peers, Brock says. Because most clothing is marketed with images of younger models, many older women may worry about their clothes being "age-appropriate." Don't be limited by that kind of thinking, she advises. The age of the model wearing the fashion is far less important than whether the style will work for you.


  • Look for garments that have a defined shape. You don't have to wear form-fitting clothing, but do avoid overalls or baggy, pull-on pants and maxi dresses with no waistline, Brock advises.


  • Find your colors, Williams suggests. Everyone has certain colors that complement their skin tone, hair and eyes, and others that are less flattering. Determine which ones are yours and emphasize those colors in your wardrobe. Brock also counsels against putting too many colors in a single outfit, and says avoid wild color patterns. Instead, pick one piece in an outfit to make a color statement and use muted, complementary colors in the rest of the outfit to create a backdrop for your statement color.


  • Just as important as knowing your best colors, you should also know the visual line that looks best for your body type, Williams says. For example, if you're pear-shaped, a line that draws attention to your shoulders can be flattering, Brock adds. Apple-shaped women may find an A-line skirt flattering since it creates an angle from the shoulder to the waist.  And don't forget about your shoes!


  • Stay true to your own personal style, regardless of your age. "If you had a well-established personal style when you were younger, it doesn't need to change just because you're older," Brock says. "If anything, as you age, you can pay more attention to your personal style and be less of a slave to the season's trends." Adapt your younger style to your more mature place in life by focusing on creating outfits that make only one statement at a time, she advises. For example, wear that big, chunky turquoise necklace that you've always loved and pair it with an outfit that's simple and straightforward like a pair of tailored jeans and a white blouse.


  • Some styles work particularly well for senior women, Brock says. Blazers and cardigans pair well with V-neck tops, sheath dresses, shift dresses and button-down shirts. "In warmer months, V-neck tops with elbow-length sleeves are the new T-shirt for seniors," she says. "Just add a necklace for a little sparkle." Plus, every senior woman should have wardrobe staples such as a black blazer, white button-down shirt, dark-wash jeans, straight-leg trousers, neutral-colored cardigans, a collection of dolman-sleeve tops and T-shirts with varying sleeve lengths and necklines.


  • Never underestimate the power of great accessories, Williams says. The right jewelry can turn an ordinary outfit into something stunning, and you can change the entire look of an outfit simply by switching around your accessories.  If your medical alert pendant clashes with your style, just tuck it inside your blouse.


"It's never too late to discover your personal style," Brock says. "Start by creating a Pinterest board and saving looks you love (get a fashion-minded younger friend to help if you're not tech-savvy). Then reacquaint yourself with your body type and go shopping with a friend. Try on different cuts of pants, skirts and dresses until you both agree on which are the most flattering. Find the cuts that look good on you and then start experimenting with colors and textures."

- Article courtesy of BPT.