Area Agencies on Aging Conference
The Area Agencies on Aging Association of Michigan is hosting its 26th annual conference Embracing Innovation on May 9-May 10 at the Kellog Center in East Lansing. Click here for more information.
Proposal Process Opens
Every three years an open proposal process takes place for Older Americans Act funding. During this time any incorporated entity has the opportunity to submit a proposal to provide one or more of the defined fundable services. If an agency is selected, their contract will remain in effect for three years, though funding amount may vary from year to year.
The proposal process will begin on April 8, 2013 with proposals due to the agency on May 13, 2013. Check back here for more information in April, such as proposal format.
For more information on the process, visit www.aaawm.org/providers/older_americans_act_providers
Volunteers Needed in Allegan
The Michigan Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program (MMAP) is looking for volunteers in Allegan to help older adults navigate the Medicare and Medicaid system.
Volunteers must be patient and enjoy learning. They also need internet, phone and problem solving skills and a desire to work with older adults and individuals with disabilities.
“Our MMAP Counselors play an important role in helping people understand their coverage and walking them through complex situations,” says Karen Rozelle, Regional MMAP Coordinator. “Medicare and Medicaid can be confusing and individuals come to us to help sort out these problems so we need volunteers who like to problem solve and find the answers, but who can also communicate well with our clients.”
Volunteers are required to attend an orientation and 36 hours of training in April in Grand Rapids, but will be stationed at the Allegan County Resource Development Committee (ACRDC) at 323 Water Street.
“MMAP is a statewide organization with offices throughout Michigan,” says Rozelle. “Our Allegan volunteers have done a wonderful job of serving their community and we are looking for more dedicated individuals to take on this important role.”
For more information on this volunteer opportunity, contact Karen Rozelle at (616) 456-5664.
The Michigan Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program (MMAP) is a non-profit organization that helps those 65 and older and those who are disabled with their Medicare and Medicaid concerns. MMAP relies on volunteers to provide education to help people make informed decisions about their health care coverage. MMAP is a state-wide program that is operated in West Michigan by the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan (AAAWM), 1279 Cedar, NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503. Offices are located throughout the nine county region served by AAAWM. Click here for more information on MMAP.
A special thank you to Magna Mirrors for their generous donation to our agency. These funds will go to address emergency one time needs for older adults throughout our nine county region.
If you would like to donate to help with emergency one time needs, visit www.aaawm.org/donate
Access to Senior Dental Care a Growing Concern
Low income older adults have limited options when looking for dental care. Only about 20% of dentists accept Medicaid and those that do are rarely accepting new patients. This forces many older adults to avoid dental care, which can cause and compound other diseases.
AAAWM has teamed up with volunteer dentists, hygienists and now students through Grand Rapids Community College Dental Clinic to provide Senior Dental Days.
Working with non-profit agencies, clients re identified based on need. Those identified receive a free dental cleaning, any necessary x-rays, screening examination and a referral if needed (efforts will be made to find a dentist to adopt them for future dental care at a free or reduced cost).
Local organizations estimated that over 1,000 seniors are in need to affordable dental care. One agency in West Michigan has a year- long waiting list and sees people line up at 4 a.m. to try and get an appointment.
AAAWM would like to expand Senior Dental Days but we need volunteer dentists, hygienists and community members to help make this a reality. If you would like to volunteer, contact the agency at (616) 456-5664 and ask for Senior Dental Days.
How Adult Day Services (ADS) Can Help Someone with Dementia
A dementia diagnosis doesn’t automatically mean packing your loved one’s bags and moving them into a nursing facility. Many older adults are being cared for at home and having dementia doesn’t have to change that decision. In fact, an Adult Day Services (ADS) program can help make this a reality while benefiting both the care recipient and the family caregiver.
What are Adult Day Services (ADS)?
ADS are offered at a location that is typically open during daytime hours and provides activities for older adults and those with developmental disabilities who are unable to be left alone without some type of supervision. Programs provide a structured environment that includes activities and social interaction. Some programs have music therapy, craft projects and social groups as well as offering a noon meal and transportation. They also provide a break for the caregiver with the confidence that their loved one is in good hands.
Benefits to the Caregiver
ADS programs offer numerous benefits for both the caregiver and care recipient. Providing care for someone can be very stressful. Often a family caregiver is also working and/or raising children while caring for an older adult. An ADS program is a safe environment for the senior and it allows both the caregiver and recipient to get a break from one another. The caregiver can use this time to simply relax, run errands or do something for themselves.
Many caregivers use an Adult Day Program while they are at work. Different programs even offer bathing services and/or other personal care options, which can be a benefit to both the caregiver and the care recipient.
“We had an elderly wife who was caring for her husband. She enjoyed the respite the adult day provided, but seriously began to think about placement in a nursing home because she could not get him to take a shower,” said Kendra Schumaker, Executive Director at SarahCare Adult Day Services. “Our staff offered to shower him while he was here during the day, but his wife was reluctant, thinking that he would not be agreeable. She agreed to let us give it a try, and when she came to pick him up she had tears of joy because he was clean and they would not have to fight about it at home.”
“Part of what adult day does is let people return to their previous life roles. In other words the wife can now be the wife and not the nursemaid, caregiver, etc. They can go home, have dinner, and she can be assured that her husband is not only clean, but he did not fall in the shower at home.”
Benefits to the Care Recipient
While at an Adult Day Program, the care recipient is able to enjoy a wide variety of structured activities that they may not be able to do while at home. Participants benefit from additional socialization and often form strong relationships with other participants and staff.
“We have an amazing staff that really bonds with our seniors,” says Teresa Schlump, Director at Side by Side Adult Day Services. “This helps the older adult feel more confident because coming to the center is like spending time with friends. It also makes it easier for the caregiver because it’s an enjoyable experience for their loved one.”
Sign Me Up! What do I do?
The best way to get started is to take time to visit an ADS program. Schedule a tour and talk with the Director or other staff. Some ADS programs even allow interested families to try the service out for a day (at little or no cost) to make sure it’s a good fit.
Because each location offers different activities and services, individuals need to contact the organization directly to find out about costs and qualifications. The Kent County Senior Millage may help offset the cost for families with lower incomes. For more information, including costs and how to qualify under the Kent County Senior Millage, contact one of the Adult Day Centers listed below.
Who to Contact:
- CareTree Adult Day Services (operated by Gerontology Network) (616) 464-3665
- Side by Side Adult Day Services (operated by Hope Network) (616) 235-2910
SarahCare Adult Day Services (616) 530-6700
November Family Caregiver Series a Success
The Caregiver Resource Network’s Family Caregiver Series was a “great success,” says Anne Ellermets, Contract Coordinator at Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan and staff liaison to the group. The Caregiver Resource Network (CRN) provided a month long list of complimentary activities geared towards family caregivers. Events included everything from a pie contest to local experts, authors and family portraits. Topics included financial and legal concerns, end of life issues as well as caregiver stress and Alzheimer ’s disease. Most of all the CRN feels they were able to reach a variety of family caregivers through the series.
“Caregivers often have hectic schedules and may not feel they have the time to get additional information or take time for themselves,” says Ellermets. “The fact that we had nearly 500 people attend events over the month speaks not only to the volume of family caregivers, but to the fact that information like this is needed and wanted. The organizations involved did a great job of providing interesting, engaging and entertaining events for the caregivers to attend.”
The CRN is a collaboration of over 110 community organizations helping serve caregivers throughout West Michigan. For more information on their programs and resources, visits www.caregiverresource.net.
Senior Advocacy in Action Alert
There are a number of issues that are being considered by Congress and the state legislature before the end of the year that will have a huge impact on seniors. Below is urgent information on three of them, and what you can do right now.
Sequestration ( the fiscal cliff)
- Threatens federal funding for older adult programs which help seniors stay in their own homes.
- The Super Committee, comprised of 3 Republicans and 3 Democrats from both the House and Senate, failed to come to a budget agreement, resulting in the automatic budget cuts required by the Budget Control Act of 2011. This is a package of spending cuts and tax hikes that will come into effect on Jan. 2, the first business day of 2013, if President Barack Obama and Congress cannot agree to an alternative measure to cut the deficit. $109 billion will come out of the federal budget every year for the next 10 years. Half, or about $54.7 billion, comes from defense spending, half will come from domestic programs, including Medicare, the federal health care program for the elderly, which will see an $11 billion cut. The sequester cuts roughly 8 percent from all federal discretionary programs, from military spending to food safety to education.
- Click here for sequestration advocacy
Personal Property Tax Exemption
- State level bills that will reduce funding to local senior millages and state municipalities.
- Lt. Governor Calley has been working with the House of Representatives on an alternative plan to replace revenue lost to local entities from the exemption of industrial and commercial personal property tax. This differs from the earlier Senate passed version in that instead of relying on the annual appropriation process to replace the funds with expiring tax credits it proposes to shift funds from the state USE tax out of the general fund to the “Personal Property Tax Reimbursement Fund”. It would require a statewide vote to do so. Funds lost to the general fund would be made up in time from the expiring tax credits, with no indication of where general fund reductions would come from in the meantime.
- Of greater immediate concern to senior programs with millage funding is that the provisions for protecting “Voter-Approved” millages that were in the Senate bills are absent from the new proposal. The exemptions would begin in tax year 2014, and projected replacement revenue would not be available until 2016, and projected at only at 80% replacement, if voters approve the shift of funds from the USE tax.
- The new proposal allows local units of government to have a special assessment on industrial real property for police, fire, and ambulance services, that could help replace lost revenue up to 100%, but have no mechanism for other entities to make up lost funds.
- Click here for Personal Property Tax advocacy
Blue Cross Bills
- These bills will change how Blue Cross Blue Shield is structured and will put seniors and those with disabilities in jeopardy of losing affordable insurance coverage.
- Blue Cross Legacy Medigap policies are the most accessible and affordable policies in the state and must be maintained by keeping current statutory protections in place. If Legacy policies are discontinued, some beneficiaries will be forced to drop coverage altogether, or go on Medicare Advantage. Both have high out-of-pocket costs when you need health care. Some will spend their income and assets on health care bills and be forced to enroll in Medicaid.
- Younger people with disabilities going on Medicare have no legal protections in purchasing Medigap and rely on Blue Cross Legacy policies to supplement Medicare. People with End Stage Renal Disease, ALS, MS, and many other conditions depend on Blue Cross to sell them insurance.
- Click here for Blue Cross Bills Advocacy
Healthy Aging Video Now Available
Healthy Aging classes are a fun way to get fit and meet new friends. Designed specifically for older adults, classes are available throughout West Michigan. Watch the video below to see classes in action, and then find a class in your area!
Medicare Part D Open Enrollment Ends December 7
Navigating through the Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage can be confusing and choosing the wrong plan can be a costly mistake with high out of pocket expenses. So, how do you find the right option? Where do you turn if you simply don’t know where to start?
The Michigan Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program (MMAP) is a statewide program run by a team of volunteers that have gone through an extensive training on Medicare and Medicaid. MMAP can help individuals determine which plans cover their medications and narrow down their options to see what will work best for them. The decision on which plan to choose is still made by the individual, but they are armed with the information they need to make the decision.
“The options can be a lot to sort through, especially if you are taking multiple medications and need to search for plans that cover specific prescriptions,” says Karen Rozelle, Regional MMAP Coordinator at the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan. “So much of the research into which plan is right for you is completed online now, which can be intimidating to some older adults. Our volunteers are trained in how to use the system and they are ready to help.”
This year there are 34 available drug plans in Michigan. Some of the plans that were popular in West Michigan in 2012 have been discontinued for 2013 while other ones have changed portions of the coverage. Experts advise beneficiaries to review their plan each year to make sure it still works for their current needs.
“Plans can change from year to year and if you don’t do the research, you may end up with surprises that are very costly. By doing the research, you can determine if that plan still fits your needs,” says Rozelle. “It’s also possible that someone’s health and /or their health care needs have changed during the year and they will want to take that into consideration. For example, are they going to the doctor more often or are they taking more medications now than before. All of these need to be considered in order to make the most cost effective choice.”
To contact a MMAP counselor in your area, call 1-800-803-7174. To search plans online go to www.medicare.gov