Category Archives: Senior Living

New Medicare cards offer greater protection to more than 57.7 million Americans

New cards will no longer contain Social Security numbers, to combat fraud and illegal use

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is readying a fraud prevention initiative that removes Social Security numbers from Medicare cards to help combat identity theft, and safeguard taxpayer dollars. The new cards will use a unique, randomly-assigned number called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI), to replace the Social Security-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) currently used on the Medicare card. CMS will begin mailing new cards in April 2018 and will meet the congressional deadline for replacing all Medicare cards by April 2019. Today, CMS kicks-off a multi-faceted outreach campaign to help providers get ready for the new MBI.

“We’re taking this step to protect our seniors from fraudulent use of Social Security numbers which can lead to identity theft and illegal use of Medicare benefits,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “We want to be sure that Medicare beneficiaries and healthcare providers know about these changes well in advance and have the information they need to make a seamless transition.”

Providers and beneficiaries will both be able to use secure look up tools that will support quick access to MBIs when they need them. There will also be a 21-month transition period where providers will be able to use either the MBI or the HICN further easing the transition

CMS testified on Tuesday, May 23rd before the U.S. House Committee on Ways & Means Subcommittee on Social Security and U.S. House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform Subcommittee on Information Technology, addressing CMS’s comprehensive plan for the removal of Social Security numbers and transition to MBIs.

Personal identity theft affects a large and growing number of seniors. People age 65 or older are increasingly the victims of this type of crime. Incidents among seniors increased to 2.6 million from 2.1 million between 2012 and 2014, according to the most current statistics from the Department of Justice. Identity theft can take not only an emotional toll on those who experience it, but also a financial one: two-thirds of all identity theft victims reported a direct financial loss. It can also disrupt lives, damage credit ratings and result in inaccuracies in medical records and costly false claims.

Work on this important initiative began many years ago, and was accelerated following passage of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). CMS will assign all Medicare beneficiaries a new, unique MBI number which will contain a combination of numbers and uppercase letters. Beneficiaries will be instructed to safely and securely destroy their current Medicare cards and keep the new MBI confidential. Issuance of the new MBI will not change the benefits a Medicare beneficiary receives.

CMS is committed to a successful transition to the MBI for people with Medicare and for the health care provider community. CMS has a website dedicated to the Social Security Removal Initiative (SSNRI) where providers can find the latest information and sign-up for newsletters. CMS is also planning regular calls as a way to share updates and answer provider questions before and after new cards are mailed beginning in April 2018.

For more information, please visit: https://www.cms.gov/medicare/ssnri/index.html

Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association serving the community

Dr. Lanyard K. Dial, President awarded Champion in Underserved Care.

by Lori Harasta

The focus of this year’s Pacific Coast Business Times’ Champions in Health Care was on aging and elder care. Among those recognized for excellence was Dr. Lanyard Dial, President/CEO and Medical Director for Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association, who was awarded Champion in Underserved Care.

Livingston is a critical safety net in Ventura County, serving 90% of the underinsured and indigent patients needing quality home health, compassionate hospice care, and essential personal care. It is a vital part of Livingston’s mission to ensure that everyone receives care, regardless of their financial situation. During 2016 Livingston provided subsidized care to 636 patients at a cost of $750,777.

In 2017, Livingston expects to deliver subsidized care, services and programs to 300 unduplicated seniors through Home Health, Hospice programs and Care Giver programs. An estimated total of 2,600 seniors will be served.

Since 2014, Livingston has provided nurses for a program serving the underserved called COPD Access to Community Health (CATCH) Program. In its last few months of funding, CATCH is a free-of-charge program designed to improve health outcomes for people with respiratory disease. As a result of the program, according to Ventura County Health Care Agency data, there has been a 36% reduction in COPD-related emergency room visits over baseline.

In addition to these programs, Livingston is partnering with Ventura County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in a program intended to prevent unnecessary transport of hospice patients to a hospital emergency room; instead treating them in their homes, according to their wishes. Livingston has participated by training first responders to assess patients, talk with family members, and determine whether the patient needs a hospital visit or if the emergency can be managed in the comfort of one’s home. This has reduced the rates of ambulance transports from 80% to just 36% of hospice patients (August 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016).

These are just a few ways Livingston, under the leadership of Dr. Dial, has been serving the underserved in Ventura County for the past 31 years. This year, Livingston celebrates 70 years of service in Ventura County.

As part of their services, they host free monthly education classes throughout the county which include the following in Ventura:

Adult Bereavement Support Group Wednesdays, August 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30, from 6:30-8:00 pm. These groups are open to individuals who have experienced loss and are free of charge.

Newly Bereaved Support Group Thursday, August 10th from 6-7:30 PM. This monthly group is designed for adults who have recently experienced the loss of a loved one and is free. These groups meet every 2nd Thursday of each month.

Diabetes Classes Tuesday, August 1st from 1-2:30pm. These meetings are held on 1st Tuesday of each month. General information is provided about Type 2 Diabetes including prediabetes, with emphasis on meal planning, medication, exercise, blood sugar monitoring, and new developments in diabetes.

Joint Replacement Classes Thursday, August 3rd from 1:00-2:00pm. You will learn what to expect before, during and after knee or hip replacement surgery and how to be an active participant in your care. These meetings are 1st Thursday of each month.

Monday, August 14th for both English and Spanish speaking. English 4:00-5:00 pm and Spanish 5:30-6:30 pm. You will learn what to expect before, during and after knee or hip replacement surgery and how to be an active participant in your care.

All classes at Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association office, 1996 Eastman Ave., Suite 109. Call 642-0239 for more information.

The two met when they both worked for Shell Oil

Norman and Joan George with their senior 14 year old dog Nellie. Photo by Michael Gordon

by Jennifer Tipton

Norman and Joan George are a dynamic Ventura senior couple, in fact, they are my neighbors. Not a day goes by that I don’t notice their car is in the driveway, and then it’s gone, and then it’s back, and then it’s gone …

Norman is 85 years young and Joan is 83. “Norm” (as Joan calls him) can’t get around as well as he used to, he needs the assist of a power chair for any distance, but that certainly doesn’t keep him down! He volunteers at Catholic Charities to feed the homeless, and has done so for the last 24 years. Joan belongs to a women’s retiree group, and between them they have been active with many other organizations.

Married for 35 years, this is the second marriage for both. They have 6 children, 15 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren between them. “We put two families together with no problems”, says Norm. Together the blended family enjoyed activities such as camping and houseboating in the Delta.

The two met when they both worked for Shell Oil, Norman in the field and Joan in the office. Although they spoke on the phone often, Joan always thought he was still married and would have nothing to do with THAT! Then one day when Joan was coming out of the office, (the Shell offices were by Plaza Park at that time) and Norman was going in, Norman told a co-worker, “I’m going to ask her to join me for a cocktail”, and the co-worker responded, “take her out to dinner!”

It’s been a great 35 years”, says Joan. They’ve lived several places such as Bakersfield and Sacramento but returned to Ventura in 1989 when Norman retired from Shell because according to Norm, “we wanted to see if the ocean was still there” and according to Joan, “I don’t think you can find a better place to live than Ventura -the weather, the beaches, the mountains – it’s just beautiful!”

When they first retired, the couple became active with the Elderhostel, a non-for-profit organization established in 1975 which offers travel and educational programs in the United States and around the world.

Joan reports their adventures included China, Italy, The Bahamas, France, London and The Panama Canal on Al Capone’s whiskey boat. Often staying in college dorms while traveling, the Elderhostel provides guides as well to accompany the senior adventure seekers. Norman tells me that one time, while in China, a Chinese guide asked him where he got his big tennis shoes, so he reached down and pulled off the tag that read, “made in China.”

Both Norman and Joan like to play games on the computer although she does more Facebook and internet stuff but he likes Solitaire and Mahjong, they even have a computer room with His and Her computers that are positioned side by side and the walls are lined with many years of family photos.

They’ve been known to play tricks on each other, he held a surprise 50th birthday party for her and she gave him a surprise 70th. Joan says, “it took me 20 years to get even!”

Norman George will be 86 on July 20.

Memory and thinking

Many older people worry about their memory and other thinking abilities. For example, they might be concerned about taking longer than before to learn new things, or they might sometimes forget to pay a bill. These changes are usually signs of mild forgetfulness—often a normal part of aging—not serious memory problems.

Talk with your doctor to determine if memory and other thinking problems are normal or not, and what is causing them.

What’s Normal and What’s Not?

What’s the difference between normal, age-related forgetfulness and a serious memory problem? Serious memory problems make it hard to do everyday things like driving and shopping. Signs may include:

  • asking the same questions over and over again
  • getting lost in familiar places
  • not being able to follow instructions
  • becoming confused about time, people, and places
  • Mild Cognitive Impairment

Some older adults have a condition called mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, in which they have more memory or other thinking problems than other people their age. People with MCI can take care of themselves and do their normal activities. MCI may be an early sign of Alzheimer’s, but not everyone with MCI will develop Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Signs of MCI include:
  • losing things often
  • forgetting to go to important events and appointments
  • having more trouble coming up with desired words than other people of the same age

If you have MCI, visit your doctor every 6 to 12 months to see if you have any changes in memory or thinking skills over time. There may be things you can do to maintain your memory and mental skills. No medications have been approved to treat MCI.

Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning—thinking, remembering, learning and reasoning—and behavioral abilities to such an extent that it interferes with daily life and activities. Memory loss, though common, is not the only sign. A person may also have problems with language skills, visual perception, or paying attention. Some people have personality changes. Dementia is not a normal part of aging.

There are different forms of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form in people over age 65.

Tips for having the difficult end-of-life conversation with your parents

by Marie Villeza

Sometimes the hardest things to talk about with your loved ones are the most important, and when it comes to their end-of-life wishes, this certainly holds true. There are many reasons why this conversation is difficult. For one, you don’t want to think about your parents dying. Your parents may also be reticent, making it a painful process to attempt to draw out their true feelings. Difficult as it may be, it must be done. There are few things worse than not knowing your parents’ true wishes for their end of life care and what should happen after their death, and being blindsided by it all. Here are some tips to help.

Emotions can run high when you get in the moment, so like most things where this is the case, you should go into the end-of-life conversation with a plan – and some practice. Ask your friends about conversations they’ve had with their parents. What worked? What didn’t work? What were some of the things that caught them off guard? Do they have any advice? Once you figure out how you’re going to approach the conversation, practice with someone. If you need help knowing where to begin, The Conversation Project has a handy template and guide.

So hey mom, what do you want us to do if you’re dying? may not be the best way to ease into the conversation. As Daughterhood.org points out, having a “prop” story can help get the conversation started. It doesn’t even have to be a true story, but it may help if it is and your parents know the people involved. You can say something like I heard about Jane Doe and her family, and how their mom didn’t have end-of-life plans. Do you have those?

It may help to make it about you, your siblings, and the grandkids. We don’t want to have to go through that with you – it would be too painful. We need to get this figured out.

It’s a good idea to plan a time to begin the conversation that meets some criteria – first, it’s in a comfortable, non-threatening location. Next, you may want to make sure that you are not alone. If you have brothers and sisters, involve them in the process. You want to keep the participants small – the conversation can be tricky and you don’t want it to feel like some sort of ambush. But the core members of the family can help instill a sense of the gravity of the situation in your parents.

There’s more to the end-of-life conversation than simply asking what your parents want as funeral arrangements of what they want to happen if they end up on life support. There are many different aspects to the end of life process (legally and financially), and you’ll want to cover them all. You may not want to try to do it all at once, however. The conversation is actually not just the conversation. It’s a series of conversations.

In the end, talking to your parents about the end of their lives is your duty as a child. They may be hesitant to discuss it, or you may feel to awkward to broach the topic, but it has to be done. When it is done, both you and the rest of your family will feel a great sense of relief. Death is a part of life, and you must be prepared for it as you would for anything else.

Alzheimer’s Association legal and financial issues – free presentation

After receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia, the cost of future care may not immediately come to mind. Financial planning often gets pushed aside because of the stress and fear the topic evokes. Legal planning is especially vital for a person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. The sooner planning begins, the more likely it is that the person with the disease will be able to participate. Plan ahead to reduce stress and know you are following the wishes of those involved.

Tuesday, August 8th from 10 a.m. to noon for a free presentation by Attorney Craig Ploss at SCAN Health and Wellness located at 6633 Telephone Road. RSVP to 658.0365.

Senior Song Circle

July 11 (2nd Tues. of each month), 1:30 – 4 p.m. July 25 (4th Tues. of each month), 1:30 – 4 p.m at SCAN Health and Wellness Center, 6633 Telephone Rd., Ste., 100, led by Marty Capsuto. Center is for those 55+ and guests, but Marty will guest sponsor all Songmakers under 55. Located three blocks east of Ventura County Gov’t Center, corner of Partridge & Telephone. Plenty of parking behind building. Contact Marty at 658-0365 or mcapsuto@scanhealthplan.com.

July 28 (4th Friday of each month), 7:00 – 10:00 p.m. Like to play acoustic music? Songmakers.org welcomes all lovers of acoustic music—instrumentalists, singers, and singer/songwriters of all levels—to join in a free song circle at the Bell Arts Factory Community Room, 432 N. Ventura Ave. Listeners welcome! Mike Wittlin 750-8281.

Annual Golden Future 50+ Senior Expo at Fairgrounds July 8

Golden Future Expos is pleased to announce the 6th Annual Golden Future 50+ Senior Expo to be held on Saturday, July 8 at the Ventura County Fairgrounds inside the San Miguel Expo Hall from 10:00am – 2:30pm.

The event to be held in conjunction with the following sponsors: Not Born Yesterday Monthly Newspaper, New Lifestyles Magazine, Senior Alternatives, California Senior Guide, and the Ventura County Star.

The event will feature 60 vendors with products, services, and resources tailored for Baby Boomers, Seniors, Caregivers, and Friends/Family.

Highlights Include:

  • Free Admission and free parking at the Fairgrounds!
  • Free Health Screenings (Blood Pressure, Carotid Artery/Stroke, Blood Glucose, Vein Ultrasound Screening & More)
  • Free Resume Review & Career Consultation
  • Free Medicare and/or Financial Planning Advice
  • Live Comedy Show by Michael Sherman, “The Michael Sherman Comedy Hour)
  • Great Speakers & Workshops (Social Security, Medicare, Oral Health, Meditation Class, and More!)
  • Hourly Door Prize Drawings & Giveaways
  • Mini Job & Volunteer Fair
  • Food For Purchase
  • $250 Grand Prize Drawing
  • Golden Future Social Hour
  • Fitness Classes

“Baby Boomers and Seniors have redefined every stage of their life and are now redefining the aging process” says Toyia Moore, Event Producer at Golden Future Expos. “The Golden Future 50+ Senior Expo will be a Power-Up day for people to get out and socialize, access health resources, shop for products and services, and be entertained and informed. Our participating Sponsors and Exhibitors put a tremendous amount work into their expo presence; we are certain that attendees will really appreciate and enjoy it! These events are really a who’s who of those who offer goods and services to the 50+ market” said Moore.

For more information, visit www.goldenfutureseniorexpo.com or contact 424-772-6039.

Michael J. Fox Foundation For Parkinson’s

The Ventura Parkinson’s Support Group is delighted to be hosting Jocelyn Scherr, Associate Director, Advancement, of the Michael J. Fox Foundation For Parkinson’s Research on Wednesday, July 12, from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm.

Jocelyn will present an overview of the Michael J. Fox Foundation, an update on some promising Parkinson’s Disease Research in the pipeline, an update on the latest legislation passed that impacts the lives of people with Parkinson‘s Disease, priority areas for Parkinson’s policy work and information on how people can get involved through “Fox Trial Finder” and “Fox Insight”.

“The Michael J. Fox Foundation For Parkinson’s Research is dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease through an aggressively funded research agenda and to ensuring the development of improved therapies for those living with Parkinson’s today. Since its launch in 2000, The Michael J. Fox Foundation has funded more than $700 million to speed a cure for Parkinson’s disease. When we find a cure for Parkinson’s – and we will – it won’t be because of any single person. It will be because of all of us, working together. We won’t stop until a cure is found. We’re on it.” (michaeljfox.org)

Thanks to the generosity of the Lexington Assisted for donating space the Ventura Parkinson’s Disease Support Group is able to have meetings every second Wednesday of each month from 1-3pm on the 3rd floor of the Lexington Assisted Living; 5440 Ralston St.

Please check in at the front desk for directions and sign-in at the meeting. Extra parking is graciously available across the street from the Lexington in the Baptist Church parking lot. Call Patty at 766-6070 for further information. Reservations are not required. They are an independent and volunteer-organized group not affiliated with or a part of any other organization or group

Scam alerts

Buying a gift card for a graduate in your life? Choose wisely. In the store, thieves can remove gift cards from racks, copy the codes, and then dial the number on the back of the card to learn when they were activated and their value for online spending or to clone cards for in-store use. Purchase gift cards directly from a store cashier, customer service counter or the company’s website. The cashier should scan and activate the card in your presence. And get a receipt in case there’s a problem.

Don’t let scammers ruin your summer vacation. One way thieves prey on travelers is through front-desk fraud. Hotel guests receive a call in the middle of the night, supposedly from the front desk. There’s a problem with your payment, the caller says, asking you to confirm your credit card number. Only it’s not hotel staff calling (they’d wait until morning); it’s a scammer using a lobby phone. Never give your account numbers in unsolicited calls; contact the front desk yourself.

Getting calls from debt collectors? They might be fake if the person is trying to collect on a loan you don’t recognize, asks you for sensitive information, or uses threats to try to scare you into paying. Tell the caller you won’t discuss the debt unless they provide a written notice that includes the debt amount, the name of the creditor, and your rights under the federal Fair Debt Collections Practices Act. Never give out or confirm personal financial or other sensitive information unless you know who you’re talking to. If the debt is legitimate, but the collector may be a fake, contact your creditor about the calls.

Scammers are creating fake websites that look like known and trusted news sites to sell “brain booster” pills. They post bogus articles about the pills with endorsements from people like Stephen Hawking and Anderson Cooper (neither has endorsed any such product). The site then links you to the sales page for the pills where you can place an order with a credit or debit card. The scammers claim the pills will lead to an increase in concentration and memory recall, but there is no evidence to support these claims, according to the Federal Trade Commission. It’s always a good idea to consult with your doctor before purchasing health products.

Be a fraud fighter! If you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam.

Report scams to local law enforcement. Contact the AARP Fraud Watch Network at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork for more information on fraud prevention.