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Costs of Aging in Place are Emotional and Financial

(NewsUSA) - Many older adults would prefer to remain in their own homes as they age, but a lack of affordable options makes this plan a challenge for individuals and their families, according to results of a new survey of more than 1,700 caregivers and other respondents in two rural California counties.     

Older individuals may find themselves burning through savings to stay at home, or forced to move to a nursing home or long-term-care facility if they can’t afford to hire home-care help, according to the survey. The survey was sponsored by Legacy Health Endowment, a California-based nonprofit healthcare grant-making foundation.   

Often, adult children become caregivers, and they face financial and emotional hardships of their own. Nearly 80% of the survey respondents says that their caregiving responsibilities have affected their ability to pay their household expenses. Adult children may sacrifice saving for their own retirements, funding their children’s college education, or making down payments on a home to financially support and care for aging parents.     

In these situations, “caregivers shoulder the burden of rearranging their schedules, juggling doctors’ visits and prescriptions, squeezing in regular shopping trips and performing essential housekeeping chores, all while caring for a spouse or aging parent,” explains Jeffrey Lewis, President and CEO of Legacy Health Endowment.   

The burden is even heavier for women, says Lewis. “Women who leave the labor force early because of care-giving responsibilities cost themselves an average of $324,044 in lost salary and Social Security and pension contributions over their lifetimes,” he adds.     

Other key survey results related to women caregivers include the following:     

  • Approximately 90% think services that allow seniors and those who are disabled to live where they prefer are important.     
  • Approximately 72% say that caregiving responsibilities have impacted their physical, mental, and emotional health.     
  • Approximately 60% report decreasing their work time because of caregiving responsibilities.

The survey also found overwhelming support from respondents for respite care for primary caregivers, who often face fatigue and burnout. More than 91% say they support programs that provide resources for their own mental health as well as resources to help with caregiving.  

The survey was sponsored by Legacy Health Endowment and conducted by J. Wallin Opinion Research, and conducted in English and Spanish between March 25 and April 19, 2022, in Stanislaus and Merced counties. The data were collected by professional interviewers by calling cell phones and landline phones, as well as online interviews via text, e-mail and social media.     

For full survey results,visit legacyhealthendowment.org.

How to Maximize Your 2022 Medicare Advantage Plan

(By George Renaudin, SVP, Humana) - Now that we’re halfway through 2022, it’s important that people with Medicare re-evaluate what is included in the Medicare Advantage health plans they selected to ensure they’re maximizing their coverage throughout the year.

While it’s common for Medicare Advantage members to use benefits such as coverage for doctor’s appointments, preventive screenings and vaccines, many plans offer additional benefits so individuals should look to take advantage of the innovative options that might be included in their plan, such as:  

• Transportation Benefits: Several health plans cover non-emergency medical transportation to and from doctor’s appointments. If transportation has been a problem for you, or you’d prefer to not drive, inquire with your health plan about transportation benefits in your area.     

• Fitness Programs: The SilverSneakers health and fitness program is designed for individuals with Medicare. Members have access to 15,000 participating U.S. fitness locations which may have cardio equipment, pools, and free weights as well as fitness classes and social events. The program also includes yoga, walking groups and on-demand video classes.     

• COVID Care: In addition to the free tests offered by the government, some Medicare Advantage plans currently offer 14 days of home-delivered meals (up to 28 meals) as well as $0 copays for testing, treatment, and vaccinations.     

• Insulin Savings: The price of insulin can be a barrier for the 3.3 million people with Medicare who use it. Fortunately, many plans offer a benefit to help members save money on insulin costs. For example, some Humana members pay no more than $35 for a 30-day supply of select insulins at all in-network pharmacies.     

These are just some of the benefits included in Medicare Advantage plans. If you’re currently enrolled in a plan, reach out to your agent or health plan to confirm what you’re eligible for so you can take advantage of these resources, as the only opportunity to change your plan outside of the annual election period is if you encounter certain events, such as moving or losing other insurance coverage.

Humana is a Medicare Advantage HMO, HMO SNP, PPO, PPO SNP and PFFS organization and a stand-alone PDP prescription drug plan with a Medicare contract.  Enrollment in any Humana plan depends on contract renewal.

George Renaudin is a senior vice president at Humana.

 

How to Protect Your Aging Parents From Financial Fraud

(NewsUSA) - Today, many adults have elderly parents who live independently. As the number of digital scammers preying on the elderly increases, however, your aging parents are at higher risk of financial fraud.     

“You must be ready to safeguard your parents against the growing threat of digital scammers and become their trusted advocate,” says Laura J. LaTourette, CFP.® Not long ago, LaTourette had to come to the aid of her own mother, who had been targeted by scammers pretending to help upgrade her computer.     

Here are several tips LaTourette offers for protecting your parents’ finances as they age:     

• Talk it over. Sometimes talking about money is tricky, even with close family members. Older adults need to understand that they are at risk for fraud if they don’t have someone to help manage their money as they age. Ask about spending, saving and philanthropic habits, and know who has access to your parents’ account information.     

• Form a team. Enlist other family members if needed, and identify other trusted contacts with whom your parents feel comfortable discussing money matters. If your parents work with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, set up a meeting to talk about fraud protection and create an elder care plan for your parents.     

• Make safety simple. Set up online account information, and show your parents how they and you can monitor account activity. Set up automatic withdrawals for monthly bills. If your parents still like to review and balance their checking accounts each month, use that as an opportunity to identify anything that looks out of the ordinary.     

• Establish power of attorney. As parents age, they may need someone else to communicate with financial institutions or health care providers. Make sure your parents have an updated power of attorney that lists you and/or any other trusted contacts. The same goes for a medical power of attorney.     

• Shred what you can. Many older adults have financial documents that don’t need to be kept, but because of sensitive information cannot simply be thrown out or recycled. Once you identify old financial documents, either shred them yourself at home or gather boxes of material to take to a community shredding event, which occur periodically in most communities.     

• Check their credit. Be sure to monitor your parents’ credit reports at least once a year; this helps ensure that no one is opening any false accounts using their identities.     

Visit LetsMakeAPlan.org for more information on how to assist your parents in safeguarding their finances as they age.

Reissue: June 15, 2022

4 Different Ways Your Retirement Could Play Out

(NewsUSA) - 100.

That’s the age that 69 percent of Americans say they want to live till, according to a just-released “Longevity and the New Journey of Retirement” study conducted by financial services firm Edward Jones in partnership with Age Wave and The Harris Poll.  

If that seems surprising, it may be because most of us envision what used to be called our “golden years” unfolding far differently than they did for our parents and grandparents.  “Today’s retirees have a growing array of opportunities to stay engaged, possibly reinvent themselves, and enjoy the freedoms that stage of life affords,” said Edward Jones’ Ken Cella.

Ah, but, just how enjoyable your later years wind up being depends on which “path,” as Edward Jones calls it, you follow.

Purposeful Pathfinders

1.Purposeful Pathfinders

You’ve seen the photos of older couples hiking or happily sightseeing outside the Eiffel Tower, right?  Unless they inherited their wealth or hit the lottery – two things you don’t want to depend on – it’s likely because they began saving for retirement earlier (age 34, on average) than most of the more than 4,000 retirees surveyed and invested their money wisely along the way.  Ergo, with 78 percent of this group reporting that they’re in “great shape financially,” four words describe their retirement:  happy, engaged, productive and contributory.  

Relaxed Traditionalists

2.Relaxed Traditionalists

Rest, relaxation and generally enjoying life free from past responsibilities typify them.  They, too, have mainly heeded Edward Jones’ most important warning: “The value of financial foresight cannot be underestimated since the conventional three-legged stool for funding retirement – pensions, Social Security and personal savings – has become even more wobbly, and unexpected expenses like healthcare can arise.”  

The most open to relocating – including to an adult living community –moving was made easier for them since they’d been saving since age 37 and may even have used the sale of their house to finance it.    

Challenged Yet Hopefuls

3.Challenged Yet Hopefuls

Okay, here’s where things start to get a bit dicey.

Most of those surveyed said they should have started saving at age 29; this group, ruefully as they now admit, actually started at 45, which was seven years later than the average of those polled.  

Consequently, while they lead active lives and are doing the best with what they have, their retirement years are what you would call “constrained.”  

How constrained?  Half admitted to often worrying about outliving their money and 54 percent with retirement accounts have resorted to early withdrawals.

Regretful Strugglers

4.Regretful Strugglers

The name says it all.

The least prepared for retirement, they’re also unfortunately the largest group of retirees (31 percent) and have little if any savings.

They’re also the most unhappy, the most regretful about the choices they’ve made, and the most down on life in general.

Sounds bleak?  Wait, it gets worse.

A whopping two-thirds of them seriously worry about outliving their savings.  A fate you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy and one you can potentially avoid by consulting a financial advisor, like a trusted local one at Edward Jones, who can help bring you closer to the future you see for yourself.  Plus, one of the firm’s free online tools even lets you calculate whether you’re on track to save enough to retire when you want.    

Whether you live to be 100 or not is an entirely different story.

Reissue: June 15, 2022

Turning 65: What to Consider When Selecting a Medicare Plan

(NewsUSA) - Approaching age 65 can be an overwhelming time for many newly eligible Medicare beneficiaries. When can you begin to enroll? Which plans should you consider? What do you need to know?

Here's some information that can help.

You have a seven-month window called the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) to sign up for Medicare benefits, which begins three months prior to the month you'll turn 65. You are first eligible to receive Medicare coverage at the start of your birthday month. If your current benefits end once you turn 65, it's important to begin researching and comparing your Medicare options early to make sure there's no gap in your coverage.

There are several different types of Medicare plans available:

* Medicare Part A (hospital) and Medicare Part B (medical)

o Administered by the federal government, Original Medicare includes Parts A and B that provide hospital and medical coverage. For most people, Part A is free, so it's important to evaluate your options as soon as you become eligible for Medicare.

* Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage)

o Offered by Medicare-approved private insurance companies and can be considered an "all in one" alternative to Original Medicare. These plans include all the coverage provided by Medicare Part A and B, and some may include additional benefits like prescription drug coverage, routine dental, vision and hearing care, and innovative offerings such fitness programs, healthy food debit cards for those who qualify and transportation benefits to help you get to doctor's appointments.

* Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug Plans)

o Original Medicare doesn't cover most prescription drugs, so you'll need to sign-up for a stand-alone prescription drug plan (PDP) if enrolled in Original Medicare. These Part D plans are offered by Medicare-approved private insurers, like Humana.

* Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap)

o Like Medicare Advantage, these plans are offered by private insurance companies and may help pay some of the healthcare costs that Medicare Parts A and B don't, like coinsurance, copayments or deductibles.

When selecting a prescription drug plan, you'll want to make sure the medications you're currently taking are covered and compare their costs across different plans. Some plans also take steps to help save you money, like Humana for example. They suggest generic or lower-cost equivalent drugs to their members when they're available. And when it comes to costs, look beyond the monthly premium and consider the additional out-of-pocket costs. Always evaluate the full cost of the plan, including co-payments or co-insurance, and the deductible as well as which pharmacies are in network.

While the many plan options can seem overwhelming, there are resources available to help you choose Medicare coverage that best suits your needs. The Medicare Plan Finder on Medicare.gov allows you to easily compare the benefits and costs of different plans. Other resources on sites such as Humana.com include helpful information to consider in shopping for plans like Physician and Pharmacy finders to help you see if your providers are in a plan's network. While planning ahead is helpful, rest assured that, as your needs change, you can change your plan during the Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan Annual Enrollment Period, which goes from October 15th to December 7th each year.

Medicare-eligible individuals can visit www.Medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227), 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Additionally, you can learn about Humana Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans by going to www.Humana.com/Medicare, www.Humana.com/pdp or calling 1-800-213-5286 (TTY: 711) to speak with a licensed sales agent from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week. 

Humana is a Medicare Advantage HMO, PPO, PDP, and PFFS organization with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in any Humana plan depends on contract renewal.

Care at Home or in the Doctor's Office -- Seniors Have Options

(NewsUSA) - Medicare's annual enrollment period (October 15 - December 7) is an important time of year during which Medicare beneficiaries can review their current coverage and evaluate whether they want to remain with their current plan or switch to a new one that is a better fit for their health care needs. If you are interested in what Medicare Advantage plans have to offer, this is a good time to learn more and understand what's available to you.

While evaluating the various offerings, it is also a good time to consider what type of care works best for you and in what setting you feel most comfortable receiving health care. With many new options available, it is worth the time to learn more about what is available to you:

  • Senior-Focused Primary Care Centers. These are stand-alone, primary-care practices designed specifically for seniors, where a care team oversees your health care, including your physical, behavioral and social health needs. The care team at each center is typically led by a primary care physician and often includes access to a nurse, social worker, pharmacist, behavioral health specialist and community engagement team that can help with transportation, food and housing. Both CenterWell and Conviva provide senior-focused primary care, with locations in many regions of the country.
  • In-Home Primary Care. The pandemic has taught us that many things can be taken care of at home, including certain aspects of our health care. Telemedicine and -- in some cases -- home visits by a physician are increasingly popular choices for those who have routine issues that don't require a drive to the doctor's office. From the treatment of diabetes and high blood pressure to physicals and vaccines, organizations such as Heal provide health care from the comfort of your living room. For Medicare beneficiaries, some care providers may also offer medication review, fall-risk evaluation and home visits after a hospital stay.
  • Urgent In-Home Care. Ever feel really sick, when even a drive to the urgent care clinic seems daunting? Receiving urgent care in your home may be an option, so long as your needs are neither life- nor limb-threatening. Where available, companies such as Dispatch Health will assess your need and, within a few hours, if medically appropriate, send a medical team to your home, treat your condition when possible and even call in prescriptions if necessary. Typical urgent issues that can be treated at home include shingles, sinus infections, bronchitis, flu and even food poisoning.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, be sure to educate yourself about plan options safely by using digital resources, including virtual educational events and one-on-one virtual meetings with licensed sales agents. Beneficiaries can also visit www.Medicare.gov; call 1-800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; or go to www.Humana.com/Medicare to learn more about Humana plans. Other providers may be available in the Humana network. Providers may also contract with other plan sponsors. Licensed Humana sales agents are available 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week at 1-800-213-5286 (TTY: 711). With these resources, you'll be able to more confidently select a 2022 Medicare Advantage plan that suits your specific health care needs.

 

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