Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


Friday, November 13th, 2015


By Charles Clarkson, Esq.
Project Director, Senior Medicare Patrol of New Jersey

Every year Medicare beneficiaries have a choice. Between October 15 and December 7, a period known as “Open Enrollment,” Medicare beneficiaries can switch their current Medicare coverage.

Why make a change? If you are in Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and/or B), and have a prescription drug plan, Medicare Part D, or if you are in a Medicare Advantage Plan, Medicare Part C, your plan can change how much it costs and what it covers. Even if they remain the same, your health or finances may have changed. The Senior Medicare Patrol of New Jersey encourages all beneficiaries to re-visit their coverage and decide whether or not to make any changes during Open Enrollment. The choices beneficiaries have are as follows:

1. If you are enrolled in Original Medicare, you can join a Medicare Advantage plan with or without drug coverage. These plans are private companies approved by Medicare and give you the services of Original Medicare. If you join a Medicare Advantage plan, you do not need (and are not permitted) to have a Medicare supplement insurance plan (also known as a Medigap policy) and if your Medicare Advantage plan has drug coverage, you will not need a Part D plan.

2. If you are in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can switch to another Medicare Advantage plan or drop your Medicare Advantage Plan. If you decide to drop a plan and not switch to another plan, you will be enrolled in Original Medicare. You should then consider enrolling in a Medicare supplement insurance plan to cover the costs that Original Medicare does not pay for and enroll in a Part D plan for drug coverage.

3. If you are in Original Medicare with a Part D plan, you can stay in Original Medicare and switch your Part D plan.

4. If you are in Original Medicare and do not have a Part D plan, you can enroll in a Part D plan. If you join a Part D plan because you did not do so when you were first eligible for Part D and you did not have other coverage that was, on average, at least as good as standard Medicare drug coverage (known as creditable coverage), your premium cost will be penalized 1% for every month that you did not enroll. You will have to pay this penalty for as long as you have a drug plan. The penalty is based on the national average of monthly premiums multiplied by the number of months you are without coverage and this amount can increase every year. If you qualify for extra help (low income subsidy), you don’t be charged a penalty.

Why change Part D plans? Beneficiaries may want to change Part D prescription drug plans (PDPs) for a number of reasons: (i) the PDP has notified the beneficiary that it plans to drop one or more of their drugs from their formulary (list of available medications); (ii) the beneficiary is reaching the coverage gap (donut hole) sooner than anticipated and may want to purchase a PDP with coverage through the coverage gap, if one is available; (iii) the PDP has notified the beneficiary that it will no longer participate in the Medicare Part D program; (iv) the PDP will increase its premium or co-pays higher than the beneficiary wants to pay and a less expensive plan may be available and (v) a beneficiary is not happy with the PDP’s quality of service or the plan has received low rankings for a number of years. For 2016 beneficiaries in New Jersey they can expect to choose from a number of PDPs. A list of plans can be found online at the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) website:

More information can also be found in the 2016 Medicare & You booklet

Compare plans each year. Beneficiaries should remember that PDPs will change every year and it is recommended that beneficiaries compare plans to insure that they are in the plan that best suits their needs. When comparing plans, keep in mind to look at the “estimated annual drug costs,” i.e. what it will cost you out of pocket for the entire year, from January 1 through December 31 of each year. Plans can be compared at the Medicare web site: If you do not have access to a computer, call Medicare at 1-800-Medicare to assist in researching and enrolling in a new plan. Medicare can enroll a beneficiary over the telephone. When you call, make sure you have a list of all your medications, including dosages. Another resource for beneficiaries on Medicare eligibility and enrollment is the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) at 1-800-792-8820. SHIP counselors provide one-on-one counseling, free of charge. You can also call the Senior Medicare Patrol of New Jersey at 732-777-1940. In addition, remember that using generic drugs whenever possible will save you money and usually you can save even more money if you buy your medication by mail if your plan has a mail order option. Some plans will deliver tier 1 generic medications free of charge.




NJFA Founding Trustee Given National Recognition

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

NJFA Founding Trustee Given National Recognition

Trenton— The New Jersey Foundation for Aging (NJFA) is pleased to announce that founding trustee, Carl West was recently recognized by the National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities (NASUAD). In honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Older American’s Act, NASUAD honored more than 50 advocates who are dedicated to Aging and Disability Services. Carl West, who is a Founding Trustee and first Board Chair of NJFA, is also the former Executive Director of the Mercer County Office on Aging.

The honorees that were selected are featured in a publication from NASUAD titled, Celebrating 50 Years with 50+ Fabulous Older People, which is available online at Carl was recognized for his advocacy both in New Jersey and nationally. At the time of his retirement, Carl was the longest serving area agency on aging director in the country. In addition to being a founding member of NJFA, Carl has also been involved with and founding member of numerous other organizations. Locally, Carl was an integral part of the NJ Association of Area Agencies on Aging, serving as founding director, legislative chair and president. Nationally, Carl has been a long-standing board member of the National Caucus and Center on Black Aged, where he served as the Chairman of their National Board.

Even in his retirement, Carl continues to be involved, following important proceedings, such as the recent White House Conference on Aging. NJFA joins, NASUAD in saluting Carl for his dedication to the aging network, older adults and caregivers.

Carl West_picture

Prescription Drug Disposal Day- Don’t Crush or Flush!

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

Prescription Drug Disposal Day- Don’t Crush or Flush!

When you open your medicine cabinet, are you confronted by outdated prescriptions that you are no longer taken but haven’t gotten rid of either? Do you wonder how you can safely dispose of them?

Perhaps you have painkiller from a previous injury or surgery. Maybe your doctor changed a routine medication and you don’t know what to do with the old one. Well, there is help.

Saturday, September 26, 2015 is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. Programs will be hosted across the country, including here in NJ. Local authorities will partner with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to bring the programs to local communities.

At these events residents will be able to bring unused and expired medications for proper disposal. This will ensure responsible disposal of the medication and also serves to educate the community about potential abuse of medications. If you have unused medications lying around children or young adults could get into them or if you just put them in your regular garbage, they could fall into the wrong hands. Also, flushing them in a sink or toilet will result in contamination of the water supply.

To find out about an event in your area visit this website–

Local law enforcement agencies will run the local event so you can also call the non-emergency number for your local law enforcement agency to inquire about the location and time of any events in your community.



Social Security Facts

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

Social Security Facts

Recently, NJFA Deputy Director, Melissa Chalker sat down with two representatives from the Social Security Administration for a taping of our half hour TV program Aging Insights.

Given all of the extensive information they shared, we thought it was time to do a blog about Social Security benefits and what you need to know. Be sure to tune into the show in September, in the meantime, here are some facts.

Social Security is a family insurance program. It is meant to be additional income for those who are retired, disabled, widowed, etc. Eligibility for retirement benefits is based on your work history (the # of credits you earned while working and paying into the Social Security system) and your age. Depending on the year you were born, your retirement age could be anywhere between 65 and 67 years of age. You can receive your benefits starting at age 62, however it will be a reduced benefit because you are choosing to receive it early. Reduction amounts are calculated based on when your official retirement age should be.

All of this information and more is available at or by calling 1-800-772-1213. You can start a my social security account online, look up information about Social Security and/or Medicare benefits and even apply for benefits online. A my social security account is available for anyone over 18 who is working, it helps you to track your Social Security record, estimate your benefit and much more. Social Security’s website is safe and secure, be sure to sign up for your account and create your own user name and password to protect your identity.

Many people don’t know that Social Security benefits are also for family members of a retired person. If a retired individual has minor children, disabled children and/or a spouse caring for a minor child, those family members may also be eligible for a monthly benefit. More information about those benefits are available by contacting Social Security or creating a my social security account to see what benefits you and your family could receive.

Information about benefits for spouses, survivors, disabled individuals and more is available at or by calling 1-800-772-1213 (Mon- Fri).


NJ seniors and providers have their say!

Friday, August 7th, 2015

NJ seniors and providers have their say!

The NJ Foundation for Aging (NJFA) seldom works alone. A recent example of this joint learning and teamwork resulted in the three regional forums in NJ to address the themes of the 2015 White House Conference on Aging. NJFA was joined by the NJ County Offices of Disability, NJ Association of Area Agencies on Aging, NJ Association of Senior Center Directors, Association of Jewish Family Service Agencies, NJ State Association of Jewish Federations and AARP. This steering committee coordinated three regional forums to gather consumer and provider input on this year’s themes. The four themes of the 2015 WHCoA are

  • Retirement and Economic Security: Protecting Social Security, Work & Employment, Public Benefits
  • Healthy Aging: Age-Friendly Communities, Preventive Care & Chronic Disease Management, Housing
  • Long-Term Services & Supports: Caregiver Supports, Workforce Capacity, Managed Long-Term Services & Supports
  • Elder Justice: Fraud Protections, Scams, Family Exploitation and Neglect.

More than 218 people registered to join the conversation throughout May and June. Providers, caregivers and seniors alike affiliated with our partners on the steering committee were well positioned to generate recommendations to these important topics.

Advocates’ and stakeholders’ experiences inspired the final recommendations. These included the need for more affordable housing, preservation of Social Security Benefits and the need to promote education on other savings tools, the importance of community transportation to reduce isolation and the key role of more towns age-friendly communities for all. Participants discussed the impact of elder abuse and exploitation which can occur in community settings as well as in facilities.

Recommendations stressed the need to better educate the public as well as first responders to recognize signs of abuse and let them know where to report these crimes.

The first White House Conference on Aging (WHCoA) was held in 1961, with subsequent conferences in 1971, 1981, 1995, and 2005. These conferences have been viewed as catalysts for development of national aging policy over the past 50 years. The conferences generated ideas and momentum prompting the establishment of and/or key improvements in many of the programs that represent America’s commitment to older adults and caregivers.

To see the full set of NJ’s recommendations go to

The WHCoA has a website where policy briefings, comments and archive sessions may be viewed. To learn more go to

The New Jersey Foundation for Aging (NJFA) is a public charity with the primary goal to empower elders to live in the community with independence and dignity.

Elder Index Data Sheets Available

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

Since 2008 the New Jersey Foundation for Aging (NJFA) has been working on the NJ Elder Index. With the first official release in 2009 the Elder Index tells us what it cost a person over 65 to live in NJ. And not just statewide average, but a cost of living index for all 21 counties. The Index incorporates the costs for housing, food, transportation and healthcare.

Subsequent reports in 2012 and 2014 have been done and include not only the cost of living index, but also a demographic study to give us a profile of which seniors are living below the index in all 21 counties.

This has given us an understanding of the plight of seniors in NJ. For instance we know that 30% of NJ’s elders rely solely on Social Security for their income and that 43% of seniors in a one or two person household live below the index. We also now know that from 2009 to 2014 a single elder renter’s cost rose 13.5%, meaning her cost of living went from $25,941 to $29,436- an almost $4,000 increase! Yet, that renter likely did not see a rise in income.

The NJ Elder Index is a valuable tool for helping seniors. Service providers and policy makers can use the data to plan for serving NJ’s seniors, older adults, boomers and their families can use it to plan for retirement. It also helps community agencies and government to measure how public supports are helping seniors. To that end, NJFA would like you to know that Fact Sheets are available on our website for all 21 counties. This includes the cost of living data and the demographic study.

You can find this information at


Robo-Call Scams

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

Robo-Call Scams

Here at NJFA, both Grace and I (Melissa) have received calls on our cell phones claiming to be from “Cardholder Services”. The recorded voice does not specify the credit card company but urges you to contact them about your account.

We’ve also heard recently from others who have received similar calls, as well as calls from people posing as the IRS. The most recent call I received even came from a local phone number and not a 1-800 number. Apparently there is technology that allows the scammer to change how the # they are calling from appears on your caller ID, so it may look legitimate.

I checked the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website and found that the call I got is a well known scam. The voice on the recording identified herself as “Rachel from cardholder services”. The article on the BBB’s website was from 2014 and indicated that this scam had already been going on for years.

The concept of this scam is no different from the others, the caller wants you to either pay for a “service”, or provide personal information (like account numbers or Social Security Numbers). You should not do either. If the caller claims to be from your bank or credit card company, hang up, look up the correct contact information for your bank or credit card company and call that # to verify any account concerns.

It is also important to remember that the IRS, Social Security, and most government agencies are not going to call you. The IRS specifically will always send you a letter first about any money owed. The current IRS scam involves a caller identifying themselves as an IRS employee and demanding immediate payment via a wire transfer or pre-paid debit card. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.

With any scam, the request for a pre-paid debit card should be a red flag. This is the scammers preferred way of getting your money. The IRS, and most likely any legitimate entity will not demand payment via a specific method, such as pre-paid debt cards or wire transfers.

You should report all incidents to your local authorities, in addition you may find these helpful as well:

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or 1-800-366-4484.

Better Business Bureau at

Federal Trade Commission

NJ Division of Consumer Affairs 1-800-242-5846 or

Announcing NJFA’s 17th Annual Conference!

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Announcing NJFA’s 17th Annual Conference!

NJFA will hold its 17th Annual Conference on Wednesday, June 3rd at the Crowne Plaza Monroe. The 2015 Keynote Speakers are James Firman, CEO of NCOA and Nora Dowd Eisenhower, Assistant Director of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau Office of Financial Protection for Older Americans. Jim Firman will address the crowd in the morning. Heis recognized leader and advocate in the field of aging. Mr. Firman will discuss a variety of topics including key aspects of the political and legislative landscape, such as the White House Conference on Aging and the Affordable Care Act. He will also talk about NCOA’s work on Elder Justice, Economic Security, Benefits Check-up, Senior Hunger and evidence based programs.

Ms. Dowd Eisenhower will be the luncheon keynote speaker and will discuss the mission and structure of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the specific role of the Office for Older Americans. She will also talk about CFPB tools/guides on financial decisions such as reverse mortgages or choosing a financial advisor. This will include two programs from CFPB that look at preventing elder financial exploitation and guides created for powers of attorney, etc.

The 2015 conference workshop speakers will include policy makers, direct care & clinical practice specialists. Topics include Dental Health and Oral Cancer Screenings, Addiction and Gambling in Older Adults, New Models of Care, Elder Bullying and more.

More information and registration can be found on NJFA’s website at Limited vendor space and sponsorships remain, call us at 609-421-0206, email at or check out the website for details.

The New Jersey Foundation for Aging (NJFA) is a public charity with the primary goal to empower elders to live in the community with independence and dignity.slide_01


Federally Qualified Health Centers Providing Quality Health Care to New Jersey’s Aging Adults

Monday, March 9th, 2015
In the Winter 2015 issue of Renaissance magazine we featured an article about Federally Qualified Health Centers. The full article is below.

Federally Qualified Health Centers Providing Quality Health Care to New Jersey’s Aging Adults
Linda Whitfield-Spinner,  DMH, LCSW, PCMH CCE
Quality Program Director
New Jersey Primary Care Association, Inc.

Twentieth-century advances in medicine have enabled people today to live longer, healthier and more productive lives. However, “more than a quarter of all Americans and two out of every three older Americans have multiple chronic conditions, and treatment for this population accounts for 66% of the country’s health care budget.”1
According to The State of Aging in America 2013 report, mobility should be considered fundamental to everyday life and central to an understanding of health and well-being among older Americans. “Impaired mobility is associated with a variety of adverse health outcomes.”2
Many private health care providers have moved out of urban settings to the suburbs, making it difficult for seniors and their caregivers with limited transportation options to continue their care with these practices. Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) are readily available resources for seniors and caregivers. These comprehensive health care centers are often underutilized by seniors who may not think to go to a FQHC. FQHCs are community-based, nonprofit or public organizations that provide services to people who lack access to health care, including those without insurance, residents of rural and underserved areas. FQHCs provide comprehensive primary health care services as well as supportive services (education, translation and transportation, etc.) that promote access to health care. These comprehensive services vary from health center to health center and may include General Primary Medical Care, Prenatal and Perinatal Care, Preventive Dental Care, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment/Counseling, Vision, and Pharmacy. FQHCs provide these services to people of all ages, whether or not they have health insurance. For those who do not have insurance, services are provided on a sliding fee scale, based on their ability to pay.
FQHCs also focus on prevention and disease management which can help avoid emergency department visits and hospitalizations for chronic conditions like diabetes and asthma.
Oral health is a vital part of overall health throughout the life cycle. According to Juris Svarcbergs, D.M.D., M.P.H., Dental Director, at CAMcare Health Corporation, “Most people know that regular medical and dental check-ups are important. Yet many seniors cannot afford routine dental care because of fixed incomes or limited access to care.” Poor oral health impacts overall health and increases the risk for chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease. Other challenges may include problems chewing, pain, limiting food choices and low self-esteem due to an unattractive physical appearance.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one quarter of adults over the age of 65 have lost all of their teeth. Major barriers for the elderly obtaining proper dental services include lack of access to dental care and high costs.3
Dental care is part of the comprehensive services available at many of the FQHCs in New Jersey. For example, CAMcare Health Corporation (CAMcare), a FQHC that serves communities in Camden and Gloucester Counties, in New Jersey, began providing Senior Dental Services targeted to outlying townships in Camden County in May of 1995. One program sponsored by the Camden County Board of Chosen Freeholders (Dept. HHS, Division of Senior Services-ADRC) in partnership with Camcare Health Corporation, provides dental services for Camden County residents.
“As a trusted provider of comprehensive medical and dental care, Zufall Health Center has successfully implemented access to oral health care to seniors living in public housing,” says Rina Ramirez, MD FACP, Chief Medical Officer at Zufall Health Center. Through the use of their mobile van, dentists at Zufall regularly visit seniors where they live to provide much needed dental services.
In addition, Zufall provides patient navigation services and programs to Morris County’s most vulnerable older adults for over 7 years. The health center’s patient navigators are trained, culturally sensitive health care workers who serve as liaisons between the patients/families and the treating physicians and other health care systems. Navigation spans a range of needs including enrollment and eligibility assistance, translation and interpretation services during a visit to a health care provider or social service agency, assistance with compliance with medical advice such as getting needed tests, obtaining appointments for subspecialty referrals, scheduling follow up appointments and completing medical forms, and transportation to and from appointments.
Zufall’s Intergenerational Program, or ZIP for short, joins together preschoolers and seniors to actively engage with health topics. The program runs for five weeks, covering topics such as healthy eating, going to the doctor, what to expect on a dental visit, and safety. Throughout the course of the program, seniors (also known as Grandfriends) help their very own preschooler to master health topics while reinforcing their own knowledge as well. It is the active, engaging, and hands-on format of the series which makes the program so valuable for seniors and the kids alike.
Programs such as improving access to dental services to seniors, patient navigation services and ZIP are an integral part of Zufall Health Center, and provide individualized attention and support to patients in this older age group.
There are 20 FQHCs in New Jersey with satellite sites in every county, totaling 120 sites. All New Jersey FQHCs, are working to meet the health care needs of everyone in the communities they serve. To learn more about New Jersey FQHCs and to find a health center near you, please visit the New Jersey Primary Care Association website at or click here.


1. (ii)

2. Ibid, page iii

3. Center for Disease Control and Prevention:


Job hunting over 50

Friday, February 20th, 2015

Job hunting over 50

Looking for a new job over 50 might not sound like an easy task, but it is possible. And there are some steps you can take to increase your success.

Keep busy. Be a self starter. You can remain active by consulting, writing articles or blogs. It’s a mistake to take too much of a break. Keeping in touch with colleagues is also great. Keep them up to date on what you are doing and ask what is going on in their field. Networking can be a very beneficial thing, you can even look into attending networking meetings.

Be up to date. Email accounts with aol or yahoo are considered out dated. You may want to look into creating a gmail account (google) or using outlook. You want your email address to look professional and convey who you are, so no cute nicknames. Your email address should be your name and maybe something to indicate your profession or field of interest. For example,

It’s good to be careful about your online persona, but being completely unable to find is not good either. An online job search expert, Susan P Joyce said, “the biggest mistake I see is older job seekers confusing privacy with invisibility”. You can create a Facebook account and/or a Linkedin profile where you can share information about yourself or things relevant to your line of work. Remember to keep it professional, no pictures of you getting drunk at a party or inappropriate posts like off-collar jokes.

You may be able to negotiate a few perks when offered a job for less money than you were hoping. Holding out for a job that pays more is not always the best move, that job may not be out there. It may be necessary to accept a job that is below your asking salary. However, you may be able to ask for more flextime, vacation days or another perk. Do some research on what jobs in your field of interest are paying, this will help you be prepared when asked what salary you are looking for.

It’s also good to be prepared in regard to your resume. It’s a good idea to ask for help from friends or family, but you can also get professional resume assistance. And keep it short, no one wants to read a five page resume. Recruiters get a lot of resumes, keeping it short and sweet is key, limit your work history to your most recent jobs. Highlight your skills. And proofread, nothing turns people off more than typos.

And don’t forget to check your wardrobe. If you’ve been working in a business casual environment, you may have to spend some money updating. Make sure your clothing fits and is not obviously out of date.

Do your research on any company you are interviewing with. You want to sound knowledgeable when you meet with them and you also want to be able to say why you will be a good asset. And be prepared to ask the interviewer questions too. Don’t say no if you are asked if you have any questions, come prepared with a few to ask.

Apply for a job even if you don’t meet all of the “job requirements”. I think this is good advice for job seekers of any age. Employers aren’t necessarily looking for someone to have all of the skills they list in a job description, if you meet a number of skills on the list and have other good qualities like a good work history you might be just the person they are looking for!

You can find assistance at

NJ Dept of Labor


Workforce 50