Posts Tagged ‘hospital’

Affordable housing is more important than ever for low income seniors and low income families.

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Affordable housing is more important than ever for low income seniors and low income families.

A recent Appellate Division’s decision provides an important opportunity for municipalities to utilize much-needed housing trust funds to address the chronic shortage of affordable housing for low-income seniors across the state in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Many of these funds were specifically designated for the development of senior housing in the nine counties hardest hit by the storm. This includes 131 senior units in Monmouth County, 6 special needs unit for the elderly by Cerebral Palsy of North Jersey in Livingston, Essex County; and 5 senior rental by Catholic Charities in Harrison, Hudson County.

The court’s decision comes at a critical time in this state’s history with the high demand for affordable senior housing and the rising cost of living. In just three short years, the cost of living for seniors living in a one bedroom apartment on a fixed income in New Jersey has increased 8 percent, according to data released in 2012 by the New Jersey Foundation for Aging (NJFA).

The cost of living for a single renter over the age of 65 was $25,941 in 2009. That same renter, living in the same one-bedroom apartment, saw her cost of living quickly climb more than $2,000 to $27,960, by 2012. However, there was not a comparable rise in income or Social Security.  Seniors on fixed incomes have been plagued in recent years with rising expenses for housing, transportation and health care. In many cases this has resulted in a rise in senior hunger and even homelessness. Their highest cost is their housing expenses.

Twenty five percent of all seniors in our state rely on Social Security as their only income. So NJ seniors can least afford the trend in rising expenses. The result is a widening of the gap between basic living expenses and their income. The NJ Elder Economic Index details these costs for seniors in each of the 21 NJ counties. These details indicate how seniors are faring in the slow economy. The latest data shows that 250,000 seniors over the age of 65 in New Jersey – representing 42 percent of single and elderly couples living in the community – do not have the money to cover their basic costs. Sixty-four percent of people in this group are women.

The report, known as the NJ Elder Economic Index, indicates that the average Social Security for a woman being $14,848. But average living expenses for a one-bedroom apartment in New Jersey has reached the $27,960 mark. So how can we expect to call these the golden years if elders must choose between food, heat, shelter or prescriptions? Even if a person worked and saved for retirement this rise in costs are unprecedented and these elders are one step from their own ‘fiscal cliff’. The New Jersey Foundation for Aging wants to alert and connect elders to resources in their community that might ease the financial strain they may be feeling each day. 

A woman receiving $14,848 from Social Security as her sole income with the average costs of a one bedroom apartment at $27,960 is only 53% economically secure.  At this income level she would be eligible for several food and nutrition programs, as well utility assistance programs. These programs would improve her quality of life and enable her to use her income to cover more of her basic living costs, but she would still fall short of meeting her costs by 21%. The only public benefit program that would help her to close the gap is affordable housing. 

The most costly portion of an elder’s monthly expenses is their housing. More than 46 percent of their income must go towards their housing, taxes and utilities.  This highlights the need for more affordable housing. The state’s housing shortage has been documented for several decades. And the need for affordable housing in the community for people of all ages has only been further stressed by the recent storms and floods across the state. Public awareness is a key component to help local advocates, state policy makers, municipal leaders and planners address current and future needs. Where you live at age 65 or 70?  Persons over age 75 and older have even fewer income assets. Where will your parents live at age 85?

If these funds are not protected and utilized, Otherwise low-income seniors and low-income families will continue to be displaced by Sandy and homeless for many years to come. Each municipality’s affordable housing trust funds are needed now more than ever for the development of new housing because of the impact of hurricane Sandy. We cannot afford to be silent on this issue. Elders who have been active in their community who want to downsize need affordable housing options; working families who want good schools and safe streets need affordable housing; health care workers who want to be close to their work and patients need affordable housing. A healthy blend of housing types is crucial to nurture a community’s cultural and social vitality as well as its economic base. “NJ Strong” must include affordable housing options to serve it residents and to build back the local economy.

*this was submitted and printed as an op-ed in the Asbury Park Press on 6/19/13 by Grace Egan, Executive Director, NJFA

Building on Wisdom: NJFA’s 15th Annual Conference

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Press Release

For Immediate Release                                                                      Contact:  Grace Egan

April 11, 2013                                                                                                  Melissa Chalker

                                                                                                                         609-421-0206

Building on Wisdom: NJFA’s 15th Annual Conference!

NJFA will hold its 15th Annual Conference on Wednesday, June 12th at the Crowne Plaza Monroe. This year’s conference, titled, Building on Wisdom will feature two nationally recognized keynote speakers.

The morning keynote presentation will be given by Dr. Mike Magee, President of Positive Medicine, Inc. Dr. Magee is committed to transforming powerful health visions into action. Recognized as a visionary leader of the home-centered health care movement and lifespan planning records, he has advised the Institute of Medicine on these topics. Dr. Magee is the author of 10 books including, Home Centered Health Care, Positive Leadership and Healthy Waters.

The luncheon keynote address will be given by reporter and editor, Patricia Cohen, who has worked for the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsday and Rolling Stone Magazine. Ms. Cohen published, In Our Prime: The Fascinating History and Surprising Future of Middle Age, a New York Times notable book.

The day will also include breakout sessions with great topics like, Financial Literacy, Sex and Aging, POSLT and End of Life decisions, as well as an update on the Comprehensive Medicaid Waiver. We hope you can join us for this informative, day-long conference!

Participants may register by email, by mail or by fax.  For more information about the conference visit: www.njfoundationforaging.org/events.html or call us at 609-421-0206.

  To learn more about the work of the Foundation visit www.njfoundationforaging.org or call 609-421-0206. The New Jersey Foundation for Aging was established in 1998, its mission is promote approaches in the delivery of services that enable older adults to live in the community with independence and dignity.

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Go Direct

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Go Direct

NJFA has done a number of blogs about Go Direct, a campaign alerting those who receive Federal Benefits (such as Social Security) that they must sign up for Direct Deposit for those benefits by March 1, 2013 as US Treasury will no longer issue paper checks after that date.

There are two options, direct deposit into your bank account or you may chose to receive your benefits on a pre-paid debit card. You can learn more at www.ssa.gov/deposit/

Today, we want to tell you that in this age of technology, scammers are finding more ways to target seniors. The Social Security Administration (SSA) reports that they have been receiving reports from identity theft victims that their monthly Social Security benefits had been sent to a different bank account or pre-paid debt card, without their knowledge or permission.

SSA and the Office of the Inspector General continue to investigate and track these cases. The incidents are related to widespread schemes, the same kind of fraudulent phone calls or emails targeting seniors that have been going on for years. Now, the scammers are using this personal information to re-direct direct deposit of Social Security benefits.

David Vinokurov of the Social Security Administration states, “to protect your identity, be wary of any calls or emails from people asking for personal information.” No legitimate company will make an unsolicited call asking for personal information like your Social Security number (SSN) or bank account. Mr. Vinokurov adds, “The Social Security Administration will never ask for your SSN, we have it.”

The SSA does not want anyone to fear signing up for Direct Deposit, they know it is a safe and convenient way for people to receive benefits. Unfortunately, scammers will always find a way to take advantage, so the best thing you can do is to closely guard your personal information. If you receive a call or email asking you for your bank account number, Social Security Number or other personal information, do not give it out. “Always pay attention to your bank statements and your credit reports” warns Mr. Vinokurov. You can receive a free credit report once a year, visit www.annualcreditreport.com to learn more.

Another safeguard through the SSA is that you can tell them that no changes may be made to your account unless you appear in person with ID, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/blockaccess

If you fear that your benefits may have been changed due to identity theft contact SSA immediately. For example, if you have not received your benefits and it is 3 to 4 days past your scheduled payment or if you receive a letter confirming a change to your direct deposit however you did not authorize this change, you should report the problem immediately to SSA.

To learn more about this type of fraud and how to report it, visit http://oig.ssa.gov/report-fraud-waste-or-abuse

 

 

 

The Social Security Administration Encourages You to be on the Look Out for Scams

Friday, November 30th, 2012

The Social Security Administration Encourages You to be on the Look Out for Scams

Disaster scams are still out there. The Social Security Administration (SSA) issued another warning last week. The scammers are making phone calls and sending emails, posing as FEMA or SSA employees. They ask  for your Social Security number  and bank information, stating that they need it to make sure you get your benefits. These are the same type of scammers that call or send emails claiming that you won a prize and asking you to provide information so they may send you the winnings or even asking you to pay a fee upfront.  Once the thieves have your personal information, they can use it to open credit accounts, buy homes, claim tax refunds, and commit other types of fraud. Most recently, some identity thieves have redirected Social Security beneficiaries’ monthly benefit payments, so the money goes to a different bank account, sometimes repeatedly.

To help prevent this type of fraud, the Inspector General recommends that you:

  • never provide your personal information when receiving unsolicited calls or contacts
  • never agree to accept pre-paid debit cards or credit cards in another person‚Äôs name
  • never agree to send or wire money to an unknown person
  • always contact your local SSA office if you receive a call from a person claiming to be from SSA, and that person asks you to provide your Social Security number or other information.

To verify the legitimacy of a caller who claims to be an SSA employee, call your local Social Security office, or Social Security’s toll-free customer service number at 1-800-772-1213. Deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals can call Social Security’s TTY number at 1-800-325-0778.

If you find that someone has stolen or is using your personal information, you should report that to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/idtheft or 1-877-ID-THEFT.  You can report suspicious activity involving Social Security programs and operations to the Social Security Fraud Hotline, or by phone at 1-800-269-0271. Deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals can call OIG’s TTY number at 1-866-501-2101.

Flu Season 2012

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Seasonal (or common) influenza is a respiratory illness that can be spread from person to person and is caused by human influenza viruses. 

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF THE FLU?

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore Throat
  • Body Aches
  • Headache

Flu season usually runs from October until May. The CDC recommends that you get a flu shot before the virus starts circulating. That’s why you see all the drugstores have already had signs up to get your flu shot there.

HOW CAN THE FLU BE PREVENTED?

  • ¬†Get the flu vaccine
  • ¬†Cover coughs and sneezes
  • ¬†Wash hands frequently
  • ¬†Avoid sick people
  • ¬†Clean commonly shared or frequently touched items

 

WHEN SHOULD I GET THE FLU VACCINE?

You should get vaccinated as soon as vaccine is available (ideally by October-November) and as long as flu is present in the community.

 An annual flu shot is suggested for anyone age 6 months and over. Seniors are encouraged to get a shot as soon as they can, as each year people age 65 and over have the highest rates of influenza-related deaths and hospitalizations.

The influenza virus changes every year, so the vaccine changes too in order to combat the virus.

If you need assistance finding a place to get the flu shot visit:

http://www.state.nj.us/health/flu/findflushot.shtml

Medicare Billing Issues- Be Informed

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Medicare Billing Issues

 In the August/September issue of Renaissance magazine (http://www.njfoundationforaging.org/Ren_AugSep_WEBa.pdf), NJFA featured an article on observation status at the hospital versus being admitted. The article talked about how this can not only mean that seniors would see a bill for the time spent at the hospital, but that it also affected Medicare’s coverage of post hospital treatment at a rehab facility.

Medicare Part A is your hospital insurance and covers inpatient admissions to the hospital. There have been a few articles and news stories about these instances where a hospital changes a patient to observation status and therefore Medicare A does not cover the stay consequently, the patient is left with a bill. Furthermore, if that patient might benefit from a stay in a Skilled Nursing Facility for rehabilitation, then Medicare will not cover that either as a 3 day inpatient hospital admission is required in order for Medicare to cover an inpatient rehab stay.

Another issue recently cited in a New York Times article is that the Federal Government is concerned with inaccurate billing and coding by hospitals due to the new electronic record system. They feel there may be “upcoding”- increasing the severity of a patient’s condition or treatment as a means of profit. The Federal Government is also concerned about “cloning”- where information about one patient is repeated in other records.

Certainly there are many advantages to electronic medical records, both in cost and efficiency. However there needs to be tight guidelines and monitoring of these practices to make sure that fraud or abuse are not taking place in the system. The Federal Government issued a letter to several National hospital associations indicating that they are concerned about accurate billing in use of the electronic medical records system.

What does this mean for Medicare recipients? Make sure you talk to your doctor and anyone treating you in the hospital. Being an educated patient is your best defense; asking the hospital staff what you are being tested for; having open communication about your status and asking if they’ve communicated with your primary physician. It is also important to review your Medicare statements when they come and if you see anything that you feel  is incorrect to report it.

Know your resources. You can contact the following organizations with assistance understanding or navigating your Medicare coverage, as well as report possible fraud or abuse or other concerns, such as appeals.

Medicare- http://www.medicare.gov or 1-800-MEDICARE

Medicare Rights Center- http://www.medicarerights.org/ or 1-800-333-4114

SHIP (Statewide Health Insurance Assistance Program) 1-800-792-8820

Senior Medicare Patrol- 887-SMP-4359

County Office on Aging- 1-800-222-3737

NJFA 14th Annual Conference- Hot Topics- June 14, 2012

Monday, April 16th, 2012

NJFA is proud to be hosting our annual conference for the 14th year. We work hard every year to bring new and pertinent topics to the professionals who attend. And this year is no different.

We will feature a session about hoarding that is going to look at the ethical and clinical aspects of the condition. Our panel includes Steven Majewski and Mary Anne Ross of COPSA, Barbara Goodman a moving specialist and Kelli Dixon at the Ocean County Board of Social Services. Together they’ll inform the audience as to what hoarding is, what is looks like, how it affects different aspects of a client’s life and they’ll also share real life stories and possible solutions.

We’ll also be exploring some legal issues that are currently affecting seniors. Gwen Orlowski of Legal Services of NJ, Elizabeth Speidel of the Office of the Institutionalized Elderly and Judy Millner of Jewish Family and Children Services will take the audience through some examples of legal issues that seniors are facing in the area of health care. We know Medicare can be a complex web to untangle, these presenters will give the attendees new information to help guide their clients through the system.

These are just two sessions that will be offered at our day-long conference on Thursday June 14, 2012. The day will also feature two keynote speakers, one discussing affordable housing over breakfast and they second discussing “second adulthood” over lunch. Stay tuned to this blog for more details.

Visit our website at www.njfoundationforaging.org/events.html to view the online brochure and register. Questions? Call us at 609-421-0206 or email questions to [email protected]

Tips for Caregivers

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Tips for Caregivers

A critical part an older adult remaining in the community is support from family and friends. Some of that support comes in the form of a family caregiver. We know that many sons, daughter, grandchildren, nieces/nephews or siblings are taking on the role of a caregiver to a loved one.

A recent report from AARP about the value of caregivers states that in 2009 42 million Americans provided care to an older adult family member with limited daily abilities. Furthermore, they found that 65% of those caregivers were female and many worked a job in addition to providing care. The report also states that the typical caregivers provides approximately 20 hours a week of unpaid care.

While, caregiving is a job and does require the caregiver to make sacrifices, many report that they appreciate the relationship between themselves and the care recipient. Providing care for a loved one can be a rewarding activity, even if it is challenging at times. Some say the bond they make with the care recipient enhances their life, such as a daughter caring for her mother may bring them closer and allow them to share thoughts and feelings that they did not before.

The relationship between the caregiver and the care recipient can become stressful, in most cases the family member is providing care that may be uncomfortable for one or both parties. Not to mention, the older adult care recipient may also be having difficulty with the change in their abilities and routine. Parents may be reluctant to share financial or personal information with children, which could make assisting with bill paying difficult.

Not only are there aspects of caregiving that stressful, but also time consuming. Tasks such as shopping, food preparation, laundry, transportation and physical care for another individual leaves little time to care for oneself.

There are of course many resources available, below are some tips we’ve found that may be helpful, as well as a list of resources.

Tips:

  1. Ask questions. To avoid an argument with the care recipient, make sure you ask specific questions about situations or decisions that need to be made. Ask their advice before making a decision for them, perhaps it is something they’ve already thought about or made arrangements for.
  2. Organize documents. Keeping important documents all in one place is a practical strategy. Create categories like personal, medical, financial, and keep them all in a binder or file. Also, keeping a list of medications and doctors can be helpful too.
  3. Take time for yourself. Utilize other family members, neighbors or local community services to provide care so you can take a break. Caregivers should not feel guilty about needing a break, taking an exercise class, reading a book or just taking care of you is necessary to assure you are taking good care of your loved one.
  4. Take advantage of local services. Contact the Eldercare Locator, a service offered by the US Administration on Aging, which helps people find services for older adults. There you can find adult day centers, rehab and nursing services in your own town, as well as, your county and municipal aging programs.

A list of County Office on Aging can be found at http://www.njfoundationforaging.org/services.html

To find a Senior Center in your area visit:

http://web.doh.state.nj.us/apps2/seniorcenter/scSearch.aspx

To get more information from NJ Division of Aging and Community Services visit http://www.nj.gov/health/senior/index.shtml or call 1-800-792-8820.

Eldercare Locator:             http://www.eldercare.gov/eldercare.NET/Public/index.aspx

Affordable Care Act: Fact 4

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

Affordable Care Act (ACA) Facts: Follow this Series

This is part 4 of our ongoing series, so please see Fact # 1 in a post dated, Feb 8, 2011, Fact # 2 in the post dated 2/24/11 and Fact # 3 in a post dated 3/8/11.

There is a lot of speculation and discussion about what affect health care reform legislation, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), will have on seniors and their families.

Fact # 4: The law will improve care for older adults in other ways besides changes to Medicare.

There are improvements beyond Medicare that will help you and your family.  In a previous blog post we discussed the long term care changes that will improve for older adults such as changes to Medicaid that will allow people the choice of home and community based care and regulations that will prevent a spouse from becoming impoverished if their spouse is receiving home and community based care through the Medicaid Program.

There are also measures written in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that will help early retirees. To help offset the cost of employer-based retiree health plans, the new law creates a program to preserve those plans and help people who retire before age 65 get the affordable care they need. By providing financial relief to businesses that provide health coverage to early retirees, health reform will make it easier for early retirees to obtain health care coverage. Health insurance reform will guarantee that you will always have choices of quality, affordable health insurance even if you retire early and lose access to employer-sponsored insurance. It will create a health insurance exchange so you can compare prices and health plans and decide which quality affordable option is right for you.

The ACA also sets up protections for people with pre-existing conditions. The new law provides affordable health insurance through a transitional high-risk pool program for people without insurance due to a pre-existing condition. The Dept. of Banking and Insurance in NJ as already begun working on the high-risk pool program. Insurance companies will be prohibited from denying coverage due to a pre-existing condition for children starting in September, and for adults in 2014. Insurance companies will be banned from establishing lifetime limits on your coverage, and use of annual limits will be limited starting in September.

And if you are concerned for the young people in your life who may be struggling to find a job in this economy, the ACA didn’t forget them either. According to the Law, young people up to age 26 can remain on their parents’ health insurance policy starting in September of 2011.

Information in this blog was gathered from the Affordable Care Act, Centers for Medicaid and Medicare and the National Council on Aging.

Healthcare Reform information from

The White House:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/assets/documents/Pages_from_Health_Insurance_Reform_PDF-4.pdf

Medicare

http://www.medicare.gov/Publications/Pubs/pdf/11467.pdf

National Council on Aging

http://www.ncoa.org/public-policy/health-care-reform/straight-talk-for-seniors-on.html

Affordable Care Act (ACA) Facts: Fact # 3

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

Affordable Care Act (ACA) Facts: Follow this Series

There is a lot of speculation and discussion about what affect health care reform legislation, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), will have on seniors and more specifically, Medicare. We decided to do a series of blog posts about the facts; this is part of our ongoing posts, so please see Fact # 1 in a post dated, Feb 8, 2011 and Fact # 2 in the post dated 2/24/11.

Fact: The law will make it easier to receive and pay for long-term care at home.

As we covered in our Medicare Myths post, Medicare does not cover long term care costs. Long term care in a facility or at home is often an out of pocket expense. The Affordable Care Act has some provisions (Section 2401-2403) that allow States to apply for Federal Funding to provide in home services. Some of these programs already exist in NJ and are open to those who have or are eligible for Medicaid. Starting in 2011, the Law allows States to apply for additional funding for these Medicaid programs, often referred to as, Waiver programs.

You may have heard about the new national long-term care insurance program called CLASS (Community Living Assistance Services and Supports). According to the ACA this will become available in 2013. Full and part-time workers with salaries of at least $1,200 per year will be eligible to participate in CLASS and may choose to have the premiums deducted from their paychecks. Non-working retirees are not eligible for the program. After you have participated in CLASS for at least five years and you can no longer perform basic activities (such as eating, dressing, or bathing, or if you have Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia), you are eligible to receive a daily cash benefit. This cash benefit is expected to average $50 per day and can be used to pay for anything that will help you stay at home. Examples of things it will pay for include, home care services and equipment.

Beginning in 2014 the ACA specifies that more regulations be put in place to protect spouses of those who are receiving home care services. Sometimes referred to as, “Spousal Impoverishment” rules, some states, including NJ already have these in place for those who have a spouse living in a nursing home who needs to apply for Medicaid. What the regulations do is protect the money that the other spouse needs to remain living in the community, the ACA states that this should be extended to spouses that have an ill husband or wife at home who is in need of Medicaid services.

Information in this blog was gathered from the Affordable Care Act, Centers for Medicaid and Medicare and the National Council on Aging.

For more information:

A brochure from Medicare:

http://www.medicare.gov/Publications/Pubs/pdf/11467.pdf

Webpage from the National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities (NASUAD):

http://www.nasuad.org/affordable_care_act/nasuad_materials.html

Answers from the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a):

http://www.n4a.org/advocacy/health-care-reform/

Straight Talk for Seniors from the National Council on Aging:

http://www.ncoa.org/public-policy/health-care-reform/straight-talk/

Details about the law at Heathcare.gov

http://www.healthcare.gov/law/about/index.html