Posts Tagged ‘cost of living’

WINTER HEALTH 101, BY: HELEN HUNTER, ACSW, LSW

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

soupHelen Hunter is a Social Worker and Geriatric Case Manager who often writes for Renaissance Magazine (NJFA’s online magazine for seniors, boomers and caregivers!) which you can view at http://www.njfoundationforaging.org/renaissance-magazine/

Here is a piece she has agreed to share with us on the blog, which is very appropriate for the season. Be sure to read to the end for a quick recipe.

WINTER HEALTH 101

With all of this bitter cold and bone-chilling wind we have had recently, I thought I’d share some information to help you stay healthy this winter (and for the rest of the year, too!)

Colds and the flu are caused by viruses, NOT from being outside or due to the abrupt change in weather temperature. Rhinovirus (the virus that causes the common cold) actually survives from the late spring through to the early fall months, when the humidity is high. Since we are more apt to be outside during these months, exposure is less likely. Cold and flu viruses spread more in the winter due to close contact with people indoors.

You CANNOT get the flu from a flu shot! Flu is spread through direct transfer of the virus from an infected person when they sneeze, cough, kiss or shake hands with someone else.

You lose heat from any part of your body that is exposed to the cold and not covered with clothing. If you’re wearing warm clothing, but your head is uncovered, then the only place you can lose body heat is your head. So, in addition to wearing warm clothing, you need to also wear warm socks, gloves and earmuffs and/or hats to protect yourself. Protecting your extremities is crucial, since those areas are most vulnerable to frostbite.

The sun’s rays are not as strong in winter as they are in the summer. However, you can STILL get sunburn, even if it’s cold and cloudy, and when the sun’s rays reflect off snow! Protect your skin by using a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and UVA/UVB blocker year round.

Pollen or ragweed allergies improve somewhat in the winter. If you are sensitive, however, to indoor allergens such as pet dander, mold or dust mites, your allergies may actually worsen! Sneezing or stuffy nose symptoms may be more problematic than usual during the winter season, so keep your home as clean and germ free as possible.

Eating chicken soup CAN fight a cold! Chicken soup may have a positive effect on the immune system and can bring white cells together, which help fight off infection in your body and help you recover faster if you become sick. So, ALWAYS have a stockpile of chicken soup (preferably homemade) in your refrigerator or freezer! In addition, hot liquids can also help reduce the symptoms of a cold or flu virus, relieving sinus and throat pain.

Hope this information is helpful to you in making sure that you go through the winter season and throughout the year as healthy as possible! Let’s all strive for a healthy body, mind and spirit EVERY day!

Want to make homemade soup? Here’s a quick recipe:

Chicken soup

Boil down all the bones with onions, garlic, carrots, celery and spices for a couple hours until all the meat that was left on the bones falls off and the bones have released their collagen (the gelatinous protein) and you’ve got homemade chicken stock. Strain it, pick out the chunks of chicken, add more ingredients like noodles or rice and new vegetables and you’ve got a pot of chicken whatever soup.

Encore Presentation!

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

 Encore Presentation!

 NJFA is pleased to announce that we will be hosting an Encore Presentation of two sessions offered at our June conference. If you were unable to attend in June or if you did attend and did not get to these sessions, now is your chance!

 Also, please send this along to any colleagues who may have missed out on our June conference.

 Space is limited! Register today!

 NJFA Fall Seminar Series

Monday, November 10th

8:30 am to 12 pm

Crowne Plaza Monroe

Aging in Place for All

Land Use and Complete Streets- Considerations for age friendly communities.

Karen Alexander, MPA, Managing Director, NJTIP @ Rutgers

Tim Evans, MS, MCRP from NJ Future

Recognizing and Adjusting Attitudes to Serve LGBT Seniors

Carolyn Bradley, Ph.D, LCSW, LCADC, Associate Professor Monmouth University.

 2 CEUS for Social Workers, LNHA/CALA, Activity/Recreation Professionals

 8:30 am        Registration and Continental Breakfast

9:00 am        Welcome

9:30 am        Program Begins

 Registration: $45

Please RSVP by November 3rd.

Name:______________________________ Organization:________________________________

Email:_______________________   Phone#:___________________

Payment:

?Check

Please make check payable to NJ Foundation for Aging, 145 W. Hanover St. Trenton, NJ 08618

?Credit Card

(Visa/Mastercard/Discover Only)

Name (as appears on Card) _____________________

CC #________________________________________

Security Code(3 digit # on back of card)___ Exp Date___

Billing Zip Code ____________

This program has been sponsored by The Reinvestment Fund

Questions? For more information, contact the New Jersey Foundation for Aging at 609-421-0206 or email [email protected]

Please return this form by November 3, 2014 to the email above or fax to 609-421-2006

Space is limited, register early!

 

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http://www.njfoundationforaging.org/

Medicare Open Enrollment Starts Today (Oct. 15th)

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Medicare Open Enrollment Starts Today (Oct. 15th)

Open Enrollment is happening now. From October 15th to December 7th you can make changes to your Medicare coverage.

What changes can you make?

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

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 supplement plan to cover the costs that Original Medicare does not pay for and enroll in a Part D plan for drug coverage.

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

If you are in Original Medicare and do not have a Part D plan, you can enroll in a Part D plan.

Why You Should Review Your Coverage

It’s important to review your coverage before making a decision. And remember just because your doctor and medications are covered in your Medicare Advantage plan, supplemental plan or drug plan this year doesn’t automatically mean they will be covered in the coming year. Research studies show that Medicare recipients can save money if they review their Part D coverage. Make sure to confirm cost, copays, coinsurance, covered providers, and prescription drugs. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Has your health changed in the last year?
  • Is your current plan still meeting all of your health needs?
  • How much have you paid out-of-pocket in the last year‚Äîand for what?
  • How is your plan changing for the coming year? How will that affect your out-of-pocket ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† costs?
  • Are there better options available to you now?

There are many ways you can get assistance with this process. You can contact Medicare directly at 1-800-MEDICARE or at www.medicare.gov

You can also contact your County SHIP (State Health Insurance Program) by calling 1-800-792-8820 or visit http://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/doas/services/ship/

NCOA (National Council on Aging) also has some useful information and tools. Like Medicare Quick Check, where you can answer some questions and you’ll get advice on choosing a new plan. Find it at https://medicarequickcheck.benefitscheckup.org/medicare-quick-check/?SID=543e7baa3cc91

In November, tune into Aging Insights to hear from the Senior Medicare Patrol of NJ, including Open Enrollment.

News-Open-enrollment-Oct-15th

EyeCare America

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

You never know where you are going to find good information. This time we have to thank Abigail Van Buren, also known as, Dear Abby. A reader wrote in on the topic of eye care and how some people put off exams and tests due to insurance issues. Either lack of insurance or high out of pocket costs even with insurance; many of these people are seniors. The reader just happened to be an eye doctor and wanted to share information about a program that can help, EyeCare America. And luckily being the smart lady she is, Ms. Van Buren shared it in her column. So, we here at NJFA looked a little further into EyeCare America so we could share it with you.

EyeCare America is a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Their mission is to preserve sight by raising awareness about eye disease and providing access to medical eye care.

By age 65, one in three Americans has some form of vision-limiting eye disease. To help address this growing need, EyeCare America provides eye care to US citizens and legal residents through volunteer ophthalmologists (Eye Doctor) at no cost to those who qualify. The exam is focused on eye disease and will not cover eye glasses, please see below for more details on what is covered in this program or visit the EyeCare America Website

EyeCare America facilitates eye care for U.S. citizens or legal residents who are without an Eye doctor. and who do not belong to an HMO or do not have eye care coverage through the Veterans Administration.

So, who qualifies for this help?

  • Those who are age 65 or older and who have not seen an eye doctor in three or more years may be eligible to receive a comprehensive, medical eye exam and up to one year of care at no out-of-pocket cost for any disease diagnosed during the initial exam. Volunteer ophthalmologists will waive co-payments, accepting Medicare and /or other insurance reimbursement as payment in full: patients without insurance receive this care at no charge.
  • Those who are determined to be at increased risk for glaucoma (by age, race and family history) and have not had an eye exam in 12 months or more may be eligible to receive a free glaucoma eye exam if they are uninsured. Those with insurance will be billed for the exam and are responsible for any co-payments. The initiation of treatment is provided, if deemed necessary by the doctor during the exam.

SERVICES THAT ARE NOT COVERED:

  • Additional services necessary for your care such as, hospitals, surgical facilities, anesthesiologists and medications, are beyond the scope of EyeCare America services. The ophthalmologist is a volunteer who agrees to provide only services within these program guidelines.

EYEGLASSES ARE NOT COVERED:

  • Some eye conditions may affect vision as though eyeglasses are needed, when what is actually needed is the medical care of an ophthalmologist, and not eyeglasses. EyeCare America provides this medical eye care, only. The program does not provide eyeglass prescriptions, eyeglass/refraction exams (the prescription part of exam) or cover the cost of glasses. If you are concerned about the cost of these items, please discuss this with the doctor BEFORE the examination.

For more information or to see if you qualify, visit the EyeCare America website at eyecareamerica.org

 

Heat and Eat Programs are Vital for our most Vulnerable Residents

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Heat and Eat Programs are Vital for our most Vulnerable Residents    

The New Jersey Foundation for Aging (NJFA) works with a variety of partners to highlight the essential safety net programs for low income seniors. These programs make the difference when seniors are faced with the daily challenge of paying the rent or buying food, paying for utilities or needed prescriptions.  SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program- formerly Food Stamps) and LIHEAP (a subsidy program for utility assistance) are two such programs. 

The NJ Elder Index and related data presents the basic costs of living for single elder and elder couple households in NJ. The NJ Foundation for Aging developed this report in partnership with the national organization Wider Opportunities for Women. The NJ data indicates that 43 percent of NJ single elders and elder couples living the community do not have sufficient income or assets to cover their basic living expenses. The average statewide costs for a single elder renter living in a one bedroom apartment are nearly $28,000 annually but the average Social Security benefit for a woman in NJ is around $14,800 and slightly higher for a man at around 19,000.

However, many seniors actually receive significantly less than the average. This point was clearly illustrated in a recent letter to our office from a single 84 year old elder whose sole income is $761 a month from Social Security.  After her rent she only has $104 to cover her monthly expenses.  Her monthly SNAP benefit is crucial to her quality of life and wellness. Many NJ seniors who have worked and saved find they face a similar challenge with the widening gap between their costs and income. SNAP and LIHEAP benefits make the difference for thousands of our neighbors across NJ.

Cuts for both of these programs are now in place which will disproportionately hurt seniors and persons with disabilities. As advocates, we need to raise our voices to urge the restoration of these cuts by considering administrative changes for the LIHEAP, along with budgetary resolutions to assure that $3.2 million is available so that food stamps are available for about 177,000 families. It is also important to note that while these programs help low income seniors and low income families they also dramatically impact the local economy since it is estimated that every one SNAP dollar actually results in $1.70 that is actually spent locally.

These are essential programs for New Jersey’s low income residents and our economy.

NJFA’s 16th Annual Conference

Monday, April 14th, 2014

NJFA will hold its 16th Annual Conference on Wednesday, June 11th at the Crowne Plaza Monroe. The 2014 Keynote Speaker Jo Ivey Boufford, MD President of  The New York Academy of Medicine. Dr. Boufford will talk about the Age-friendly NYC initiative. 

Age-friendly NYC has consulted with thousands of older adults and enacted hundreds of low-cost improvements throughout the city including: the redesign of 600 intersections, commitments made by 1,000 local retail businesses, increased access to museums and universities and new creative transit options. In 2013, Age-friendly NYC was named the ‚ÄúBest Existing Age-friendly Initiative in the World‚Äù by the International Federation on Aging. The New York Academy of Medicine serves as the World Health Organization’s Collaborating Center on Aging, Urbanization and Globalization and advises cities and communities around the world on how to take on similar initiatives customized to the needs and strengths of their communities. Age-friendly Communities aim to complement essential health and social services by testing and spreading innovations to make the environment more accessible, affordable and welcoming to older people.

The 2014 conference workshop speakers will include policy makers, direct care & clinical practice specialists.

More details and registration information is available on our website, www.njfoundationforaging.org. Some sponsorships¬†are still¬†available, however, vendor space is sold out.¬† Questions? Please give us a call at 609-421-0206 or email at [email protected]

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.

How to get your Credit Report

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

We’ve all seen those funny commercials for credit reports and have probably read articles in magazines urging us to get our yearly free credit report. However, have you ever wondered why you need it? Or how to go about getting it? And how to avoid scams posing as free credit report services? Well, let’s try to answer some of those questions.

Knowing your credit score can help guard against identity theft. Identity thieves may use your information to open a new credit card account in your name. Then, when they don’t pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report. Inaccurate information like that could affect your ability to get credit, insurance, or even a job. Since your credit report has information that affects whether you can get a loan — and how much you will have to pay to borrow money, you should check it annually to make sure it is accurate

The Federal Trade Commission enforces The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) which requires each of the nationwide credit reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. A credit report includes information on where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued or have filed for bankruptcy. Nationwide credit reporting companies sell the information in your report to creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that use it to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, or renting a home. You can see why it is important to receive your credit report to monitor these things yourself before applying for a loan, credit card, mortgage or even a new job.

To order your free credit report, visit annualcreditreport.com, call 1-877-322-8228. Or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. Do not contact the three nationwide credit reporting companies individually. They are providing free annual credit reports only through annualcreditreport.com, 1-877-322-8228 or mailing to Annual Credit Report Request Service.

Here’s an important piece to rememberРThe law allows you to order one free copy of your report from each of the nationwide credit reporting companies every 12 months.

You may order your reports from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies at the same time, or you can order your report from each of the companies one at a time.

Okay, so here is the part to make a note of to protect yourself from scams. Use only annualcreditreport.com to order your free credit report. That is the only site under the law- FCRA that is mandated to provide your credit report for free. Other websites that claim to offer “free credit reports,” “free credit scores,” or “free credit monitoring” are not part of the legally mandated free annual credit report program. In some cases, the “free” product comes with strings attached. For example, some sites sign you up for a supposedly “free” service that converts to one you have to pay for after a trial period. If you don’t cancel during the trial period, you may be unwittingly agreeing to let the company start charging fees to your credit card.

Some “imposter” sites use terms like “free report” in their names; others have URLs that purposely misspell annualcreditreport.com in the hope that you will mistype the name of the official site. Some of these “imposter” sites direct you to other sites that try to sell you something or collect your personal information. So make sure you type the url correctly and don’t enter your credit card information, exit the site if they ask for this information and then attempt to connect with annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.

The only information that you’ll be asked for to process your credit report is your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth. If you have moved in the last two years, you may have to provide your previous address. To maintain the security of your file, each nationwide credit reporting company may ask you for some information that only you would know, like the amount of your monthly mortgage payment. Each company may ask you for different information because the information each has in your file may come from different sources.

While your credit report helps determine your credit score, these reports will not give you your credit score. For more information about your credit score visit- http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0152-how-credit-scores-affect-price-credit-and-insurance#credit

For more details and to learn what steps to take if you do find inaccurate information on your credit report, please visit the Federal Trade Commission and read the article on Free Credit Reports http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0155-free-credit-reports or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357)

Medicare Open Enrollment ends December 7th

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Medicare Open Enrollment ends December 7th

Open Enrollment is coming to a close soon. Every year Medicare gives you the opportunity to review your coverage and make changes. This year the Open Enrollment period is October 15 to December 7.

This is when people with Medicare can change their Medicare health plan and prescription drug coverage for 2014. Information on 2014 plans has been available since the beginning of October. People with Medicare can call 1-800-MEDICARE or visit www.medicare.gov for plan information. If a person is satisfied that their current plan will meet their needs for next year, they don’t need to do anything.

What can you do during Open Enrollment?

From October 15 to December 7 you can

  • Join or switch a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan
  • Join or switch a Medicare Advantage Plan

During this period you should take time to review health and drug plan choices and choose the plan that fits your needs. Coverage begins on January 1, 2014.

Each year, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Drug Plans can change costs and coverage. Plans will mail an Evidence of Coverage/Annual Notice of Change to you. This notice gives details about plan coverage, costs, etc for the next year. Some plans may choose to leave Medicare and no longer offer the plan you have, meaning you’ll have to find a new plan during Open Enrollment. If this is the case your plan would have mailed you a notice of non-renewal.

To learn more about available plans visit- Medicare Plan Finder on Medicare.gov

You can also:

  • Visit your plan‚Äôs website
  • Refer to the Medicare & You handbook
  • Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227)
  • Or contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP)¬† at 1-800-792-8820 or http://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/doas/home/sashipsite.html

More Money Tips

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

More Money Tips

Fraud and Abuse

If you have not done so already, adding yourself to the Do Not Call Registry can limit the number of mail and phone calls you receive from marketers. Contact the Do Not Call Registry at 1-888-382-1222 or visit www.donotcall.gov

For more information on stopping unwanted mail and phone calls visit the Federal Trade Commission online at www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0260-stopping-unsolicited-mail-phone-calls-and-email

You’ve seen many ads and articles stating that a Reverse Mortgage can help you, and for some people it is a wise choice. NJFA’s Renaissance magazine has published articles outlining what you should know when considering a Reverse mortgage. You must be 62 or over to qualify and a counseling session is required.  A reverse mortgage is borrowing against the equity of your home. You must stay current with your property taxes while you live in the home and the money will have to be paid back when you or your heirs sell the home. More information can be found at www.fdic.gov/

Always be on the lookout for fraud. Here are some warning signs to be aware of:

  • An unsolicited phone call, email or other request that you pay a large amount of money before receiving goods and services.
  • An unexpected email or call requesting your bank account number, perhaps one asking you for the information printed at the bottom of your checks.
  • An offer that seems too good to be true, like an investment, ‚Äúguaranteeing‚Äù a return that‚Äôs way above the competition.
  • Pressure to send funds quickly by wire transfer.

Protecting your important documents is important. Keeping them in a safe place should also include protecting them from water damage by keeping them in an airtight and waterproof container.

The NJ Division of Consumer Affairs provides valuable information and resources to protect you. Their website features information about cyber fraud, how to determine if an investment opportunity is real and also a way to check if a charity is legitimate and other consumer warnings. Visit them online at www.njconsumeraffairs.gov or call them at 1-800-242-5846.

NJ Elder Economic Security Index

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

In 2009 NJFA released the first NJ Elder Economic Security Index Report. This report provided the cost of living for people over 65 in NJ. Not only did it determine how much seniors need to meet their basic needs in NJ, but also broke down the data for all 21 counties in NJ.

 If you are not familiar with the Index, it breaks down the cost of living for NJ seniors in several categories- Housing, Transportation, Food, Healthcare and Misc. It also looks at these costs for both single elders and those living in a two person household. The Index goes even further to differentiate the costs for renters, homeowners with a mortgage and homeowners without a mortgage. With the release of the report in 2009 this opened the eyes of many policymakers and advocates as to the high cost of living for seniors. It also highlighted the issue of what senior’s income was compared to their cost of living. The accompanying Policy Brief also looked at the benefit programs and public supports that are available

In 2012 NJFA released an Index update. Not only did NJFA update the numbers but the new report also included a demographics study. The demographics study told us how many seniors in NJ were living below the Elder Index, not just in the state of NJ, but in each county as well.

Of single and two person households over 65 in NJ, 42.6% of them live below the Elder Index. Because the Elder Index is based on the costs for either a single elder or an elder living in a two person household, the demographic study misses those who are living in a household with 3 or more people.

If in 2012 42.6% of elderly single and two person households were living below the Index in NJ, what does that mean for 2013 and beyond? If we look at the change from 2009 (the first NJ Elder Index) and 2013, some seniors have seen more than a 30% increase in their cost of living. In 2009 the cost of living for a single senior renter in NJ was estimated to be $25,941. In 2013 its $28,860, that’s an 11.25% increase in costs without an increase in income. Some seniors may find it necessary to seek employment in retirement.

Not all seniors will be able to find employment or may not even be able to work. This is where benefit programs enter the picture. Programs like PAAD or Senior Gold can help cut the cost of prescription medications. Lifeline and LIHEAP can help them to pay their utilities bills. SNAP (formerly food stamps), Farmers Market Coupons and other nutrition programs will make it easier to access healthy foods. The highest cost for seniors is their housing. So naturally affordable housing would make the biggest impact for a senior who is below the index. However, affordable housing is difficult to come by. Many seniors are on multiple waiting lists, each kept separately without a way of sharing the information.

This is why NJFA continues to advocate for all services that may benefit seniors. In order to ensure that all of NJ’s seniors can live in the community of their choice, with independence and dignity.

To view the full Elder Index Report, please visit our website at www.njfoundationforaging.org/issues.html