Find the latest news and information on Medicare plans, costs, changes, eligibility, enrollment and comparisons from the experts at PlanPrescriber.

Assisted Living: Observations, Surprises, and Caveats

Do you know what to expect when it comes to deciding on an assisted living facility for seniors?

Some of our kids say we should move out of the house. Isn’t this what we said to them when they grew up? But now it’s different: they’re telling us to move out of our own homes. This blog post gives you one woman’s experience when it comes to senior assisted living and some tips on what to look out for.

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Older adult browsing the internet.

When you think of a “tech-savvy” person, who comes to mind? An image of Grandma expertly tweeting, posing for Snapchat, or skyping on her iPad might not jump out – but maybe it should. 

A recent Pew study on older adults and technology use found that some subsets of the senior population use the internet at levels equal to – and even surpassing – the general population.

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Quitting Smoking for Seniors: Is It Too Late?If you’ve been smoking for many years, it’s such an ingrained habit that it can seem impossible to stop. Quitting smoking is tough. Is it really worth it, especially late in life?

Sometimes it seems there are as many reasons to keep smoking as there are to quit. It’s really hard to do. Maybe you’ve tried it before and it didn’t work. Smoking curbs your appetite so you don’t overeat. It gives you something to do with your hands. Perhaps your friends smoke and you’d feel odd hanging out with them and not smoking.

But the arguments for quitting are hugely powerful. It’s not just that your kids and grandkids, not to mention your doctor, are forever pestering you to give it up. It’s more than the money you spend on cigarettes. It’s a fact that smoking contributes to a myriad of serious health conditions. The risk shoots up for many types of cancer if you smoke.

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Healthy Recipe: Basil Quinoa CakesSome circles refer to quinoa as “the supergrain of the future,” which may seem a bit odd for a seed that dates back thousands of years. Quinoa was first enjoyed by the Incas, who realized it was an edible grain seed. What they perhaps did not know then was just how beneficial its ingestion could be.

According to Forbes, quinoa offers several health-related benefits. It is rich in protein, offering all nine essential amino acids. It also contains double the fiber amount as most other grains, which could help prevent heart disease and constipation. Eating quinoa ensures an iron dosage to keep red blood cells healthy and functioning, and the inclusion of lysine means you’re getting an amino acid fix to help with tissue repair. Quinoa also includes magnesium (to help relax blood vessels), manganese (an antioxidant to protect red blood cells), and riboflavin (improves energy metabolism).

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Can a Waning Sense of Smell Be an Early Indication of Alzheimer’s?Deterioration in one’s sense of smell could be an early indication of Alzheimer’s. This data is theorized from a relatively new study, and dementia researchers believe that it could one day function as an early warning sign for Alzheimer’s onset.

The sense of smell can often trigger old memories, or partner with the human tongue to create the reception of flavors (during exhalation). It is unique among the human senses because it is the only one that bypasses the thalamus entirely, connecting instead to the forebrain. Since loss of this sense is an effect of Alzheimer’s, it is unsurprising to read that scientists are researching whether or not it can accurately forecast the arrival of that disease.

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Do Caregivers View The Experience Positively?A recent study on long-term care shows that while most caregivers viewed the experience positively, the caregiver’s relationship with the recipient had a strong impact on how they viewed the experience.

Even though the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 70% of Americans will need long-term care in their lives, most individuals are not prepared for the financial costs of long-term care. With limited Medicare coverage for caregivers and nursing home care,  many opt to receive long-term care through family members and close friends.

A study conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research was released this month, tracking public opinions of long-term care among Americans age 40 and older. According to results, six in 10 respondents have provided, financed, or been the recipient of ongoing living assistance. The study underscored the significant impact of long-term care in the United States, as large numbers of baby boomers retire and increasingly need long-term assistance, often from their children. Caregiving is an experience that will affect most Americans at some point in their lives – either as a caregiver or recipient.

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Medicare prescription drugsBeneficiaries will enter the Medicare coverage gap more quickly in 2014, but be better covered once they are in it.

Medicare prescription drug costs were a mixed bag this year. The 2014 annual deductible for prescription drug coverage dropped to $310 (down from $325 in 2013), meaning that Medicare will begin paying its share of costs sooner.

At the same time, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services lowered the Medicare coverage gap threshold by $120 from the previous year. Also known as the “donut hole,” the coverage gap refers to the period that begins after beneficiaries and their insurance plans have spent a certain combined amount on covered prescription drugs, after which patients must pay the full cost of their drugs out-of-pocket.

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carepondWho cares for the caregivers? A Family Caregiver Alliance statistic says that up to 70% of family caregivers struggle with depression while 17% of all caregivers have seen their health deteriorate as a result of their responsibilities.

Enter the CarePond social network, a site dedicated to alleviating stress and depression among caregivers. It creates an outlet for them to connect with other caregivers, share information and experiences, and receive emotional support for their positions.

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Mail-order prescriptionsRemembering to go to the pharmacy for prescription refills can be a hassle. Wouldn’t it be nice if your medications showed up at your doorstep every three months, right when you need them, after a quick phone call or email? Instead of waiting in drugstore lines and spending too much on copayments and coinsurance, you may be able to save time and money with a little advance planning. Mail-order prescription services through your Medicare Part D coverage can take a chore out of the way.

Mail-order prescriptions are not only convenient, they can save you money. You typically get a 90-day supply of medications at a lower price, per dosage, than the cost of a 30-day supply at a retail pharmacy. Even postage to deliver medications is usually a small charge or free (and, in the long run, it can be comparable to the cost of driving back and forth to a drugstore).

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May is ALS Awareness MonthWith approximately 30,000 Americans living with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), the month of May is dedicated to increasing awareness of this disease.

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a neurodegenerative disease that impacts motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. Cells are crippled as the brain’s ability to function is impaired. The result is a loss of muscle movement that may provoke complete paralysis in severe instances. Life expectancy is two to five years at diagnosis, although some with ALS have lived more than double that time.

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