Understanding Medicare Benefits Made Easy

Let’s face it: Medicare can be confusing. Enrollees encounter a lot of tough decisions when it comes to choosing the right coverage plan and sorting through all of the different benefit options. The process sometimes feels plastered with red tape and laden with unfamiliar jargon. And who can keep track of all the different policies and benefits for Medicare Parts A, B, and D, let alone all the private supplemental options that are out there? To make matters worse, people face harsh penalties if they fail to register properly, and confused enrollees risk missing out on discounts and financial assistance. Some even end up paying for coverage they don’t want or missing out on coverage options that they need.

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2017 Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program Begins

It’s time to enjoy the great fresh produce, remember proper storage by September 29, 2017 and used fruits and vegetables locally grown and available at our area farmers’ markets. Blair Senior Services, Inc. is pleased to once again be administering the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) in Blair County for 2017. The program began on June 1 and issues vouchers for income-eligible older adults to exchange for fruits and vegetables at local farmers’ markets.

Including fruit and vegetables in your daily diet is important. They contain vitamins and minerals that can help keep you healthy and feeling energized. They can also help protect against some diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers.

Be sure to buy the right produce by selecting ones that are not bruised or damaged. When buying pre-cut, bagged or packaged produce, choose only items that are refrigerated or stored by ice. After purchasing your fresh is also important for both quality and safety. Store perishable fresh fruits and vegetables in a clean refrigerator at a temperature of 40 degrees or below.

Prior to eating or preparing your fresh produce remember to wash it thoroughly under running water. After washing, dry the produce with a clean cloth towel or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present on the surface.

Farmers’ Market vouchers are distributed at the Central Blair Senior Center, located at 1320 Twelfth Avenue in Altoona, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. while supplies last. Throughout June, vouchers will also be available at the Northern Blair, Southern Blair and Williamsburg Senior Centers on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Each eligible individual receives four vouchers worth ve dollars each. Vouchers must be picked up by November 30, 2017. Please be aware that vouchers will be distributed until the supply is depleted and you are encouraged to pick up your vouchers at your earliest convenience.

To be eligible to receive the vouchers, you must be 60 years of age or over and a resident of Blair County. Eligibility is also determined by your total 2016 household income. Proof of age and residency, such as a driver’s license or photo ID, are required.

This summer, plan on visiting our area framers’ markets and enjoy the wide variety of nutritious fresh fruits and vegetables. Not only will it be good for your diet, it will make for a great outing. For more information regarding the program’s guidelines and distribution centers, please call Blair Senior Services, Inc. at 814- 946-1235.

“No Place Like Home”

A common saying is “there is no place like home!” For many people, this is true because as they view their home as their own personal safe haven. However, there are some people in our community who cannot relate to this statement because they do not have a place to call home. Most people are familiar with the foster care system available to children without adequate housing and supervision. But what happens when an adult is unable to care for themselves independently, but does NOT require skilled nursing care? An option that many people are not aware of is Domiciliary Care.

Domiciliary Care (Dom Care for short) is a home-like living arrangement in the community for adults ages 18 and older who are not able to live independently. These individuals require assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing and grooming, and are dependent upon the provider for three meals a day, supervision, medication management, and money management when necessary. Unlike larger personal care homes, Dom Care homes are much more intimate as they are within the provider’s actual home. All certified Dom Care homes are inspected annually to ensure that they continue to meet all health and safety standards.

Due to the intimate nature of Dom Care, it is very important that Dom Care consumers are matched to homes that best meet their special needs, preferences, and interests. In Blair County, there is a wide range of Dom Care consumers. Some consumers are high functioning and independent in most areas and require limited supervision, while others may be lower functioning and totally dependent upon the provider to meet their everyday needs. Most Dom Care consumers have a mental health or intellectual disability diagnosis, but this is not always the case. It is up to both parties (consumer and provider) to determine if they feel they would be a good match for each other. New potential consumers are always introduced to the provider and allowed to tour the home to make sure both parties are comfortable with each other before move in day. Just like the consumers, there is also a wide range of providers. In Blair County, there are providers ranging in age from their early 20’s to late 80’s. There are both male and female providers. The providers come from all different social, religious and economic backgrounds.

They have all held different careers throughout their lives. The one thing they all have in common is that they have a desire to help others and have made the choice to invite others into their home.

An example of such a provider is Wanda McCarron. She has been a Dom Care provider for over 20 years, and has opened her home to six consumers over those years. She has three that live with her at this time (Sandy, Barb and Mary). Sandy has lived with Wanda for 20 years; Barb for 18 years; and Mary for 17 years. Wanda reported that when she rst became a provider, it was mutually beneficial because she needed a source of income at the time and the ladies needed someone to take care of them. But over the years, Wanda has proven herself to be someone who goes the ‘extra mile’ for her consumers. They are more than just Dom Care provider and Dom Care consumers. They have become a family. Some of the ladies’ favorite memories with Wanda throughout the years include going swimming, shopping, renting a cabin, visiting Jellystone, going to Knoebel’s Amusement Park, attending a dinner cruise on the Proud Mary, visiting Delgrosso’s Amusement Park, and going to Living Treasures Zoo. The ladies consider Wanda to be like a “mom” to them. During an interview with the consumers, Barb stated that she would “be lost without Wanda” and that living in the Dom Care home is “worth more than a million dollars.” When asked about her favorite part of Dom Care, Mary, who grew up an orphan, stated “It is nice to have a family.” Wanda simply stated that she feels this is her contribution to society. She reported that she loves the women and promised to never let them “go without” because they deserve the best life has to offer. All four women agreed “there is no place like home.”

Blair County is currently experiencing a shortage of Dom Care homes. With that being said, are you someone who would be interested in opening your home to provide a room, meals and supervision to individuals in our community who require a structured living arrangement? Interested Dom Care provider applicants should have room in their homes and time to provide assistance with daily living activities to individuals who have difficulties performing these activities independently. Home providers may assist with medications and grooming as well as provide meals, laundry, and transportation to doctor’s appointments. Dom Care homes are approved by the certifying agency, Blair Senior Services, Inc., after meeting strict re, safety and health standards. Providers are paid a standard monthly fee for each person residing in their home. The current rate is $979 a month per consumer and providers can have up to three consumers living in their home at a time. If this is something you might consider, please contact the Domiciliary Care Coordinator, Stephanie Sanford, at Blair Senior Services, Inc. to start the process!