Annual Salute To Seniors Has The AnswersBy: Eileen Doherty
Older adults and their caregivers frequently face a great deal of challenges as they adjust to retirement and aging. From Medicare and Medicaid, to picking a senior living facility that is right for their needs, older adults can often become overwhelmed with navigating the complex systems and making the difficult decisions that come with aging. Caregivers also face a great deal of frustration as they struggle to assist a loved one through these processes. Both older adults and their caregivers frequently have many questions, and some may not have ready access to the information they need to make the most informed decision. Often, it can seem like the answers are difficult to find and even more difficult to understand.
One of the highest concerns for older adults is healthcare. When seniors become eligible for Medicare at 65, the arrival of their Medicare card often prompts several questions. What coverage am I entitled to? What are my out of pocket costs? What is the best option for me as far as secondary insurance? What drug company should I use? What is the coverage gap and what should I do if I should go into it? Low income seniors who are applying for or receiving Medicaid must navigate an extensive application. Between spend downs, qualifying trusts, Medicaid liens and functional assessments, applying for Medicaid can often be a daunting and complicated task for seniors and their caregivers. While working to understand the healthcare benefits available to older adults, the seniors and their caregivers often face difficulty finding a place to turn with their questions.
Seniors must also face several adjustments in their living arrangements as they grow older. As an older couple becomes less able to maintain the four bedroom house in which they raised children, they may want to downsize to a smaller home or a retirement community, In order to maintain independence, seniors may need to modify their current home by installing adaptive equipment such as a grab bar, a ramp, or a handicap accessible bathtub. To remain in their homes, seniors may need to hire a home health agency to assist them in the upkeep of their home and with day to day tasks. As an older adult requires more care, they must often move either temporarily or permanently into a senior facility, where they must then adjust to a new living situation and new people. Additionally, finding the most appropriate living arrangement for the senior’s individual needs and preferences can also be difficult. Where can we find a grab bar, and how much will it cost? Is home health care going to feasibly enable dad to stay at home? Will my mom have to apply for Medicaid? Would I prefer to live in a small facility or a large one? Apart from the process of adjusting to the changes and emotions around moving to a facility, accessing the resources necessary to answer these questions or make an educated decision can be difficult.
It can also be difficult for seniors to adapt to their retirement financially. Older adults who are no longer working must adjust to receiving a fixed income from Social Security and pensions, which often requires more careful budgeting to be able to pay for rent or property taxes, utilities and food. Low income seniors may apply for an income subsidy, and for food stamps, which requires careful management of their assets. Some seniors may sign a reverse mortgage, or work with a senior employment program to supplement their current income. When it comes to finances during retirement, seniors have a variety of options at which to look, and many factors to consider. What is a reverse mortgage, and how does it work? How can I get a refund on my rent? Am I eligible for SSI? If I get a part time job, will I lose my Old Age Pension? Should I take early retirement from Social Security, or wait until I have attained full retirement? It is important that seniors receive quality and detailed advice regarding all of their financial options, yet figuring out the best avenue to choose is difficult.
Retirement in and of itself is a tremendous lifestyle change; in addition to the fixed income, new health insurance, and housing adjustments, seniors must restructure their daily routine and find new activities in which to engage themselves. In order to remain active, seniors may choose to visit senior centers, which offer a variety of activities, classes and programs, or also volunteer their time. A connection to the community is vital to a senior’s mental, emotional, and physical well-being. In the search for activities, there are many factors to consider. What volunteer opportunities are there close to my house? What kind of work do I really enjoy doing? Will the center provide transportation to and from, or will I be able to make other arrangements? What activities do they offer, and are these activities something I would be interested in? Are there meals provided? Are there any costs associated with this? A reliable resource goes a long way in providing a senior with quality activity options.
Fortunately, the 20th Annual Salute to Seniors slated for June 3 from 8:30 to 4 p.m. at the Colorado Convention Center has the experts on these subjects and many more. With over 130 exhibitors, the Salute is the place to get in touch with the resources seniors and their caregivers need. Whether you are looking for advice on health insurance, information about powers of attorney, an adult day care, or for a wheelchair for mom, the Salute to Seniors has it all.
Cost of attendance is $7 for the first ticket and $3.50 for a second ticket. Groups of 10 or more can attend for $5 apiece.
If you are not able to make it to the Salute to Seniors, call the Colorado Gerontological Society at 303-333-3482 to place an order for your Senior Resource Guidebook. The cost of shipping one book is $7, with a bundle of thirty for $75. Free copies of the Senior Resource Guidebook is one of many valuable resources that will be distributed at the 20th Annual Salute to Seniors.
Editor’s note: Eileen Doherty, MS is the Executive Director of Senior Answers and Services and the Colorado Gerontological Society. She has more than 30 years of experience in education and training, clinical practice, research, and public policy in gerontology. You may reach her at 303-333-3482 or Doherty001@att.net.