Latest Blog Post

Read the latest article written by EPPIA members, published in the Eden Prairie News.

What’s Your Senior Services IQ?

How much do you know about housing and services for people over the age of 65? Take this quick quiz and see how you score!

1. Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs) now can provide all the same healthcare services as Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs). True or False
2. All Home Health Services accept Medicare. True or False
3. In order to quality for medical assistance at an ALF, you must live there a required period of time. True or False
4. Nursing home costs within the same area are pretty much the same. True or False
5. Most ALFs costs are pretty much the same. True or False
6. Most Adult Day Services accept medical assistance payments. True or False

Answers:

1. False. ALFs have a different state license than skilled nursing facilities and are not set up to provide 24/7 care for all residents. They may include certain medical cares in their list of services but these will come at an extra cost and may be provided by an outside agency. The number and training of nurses and nursing assistants is also different in an ALF.
2. False. Some Home Health agencies do accept Medicare but others are all private pay. Depending on the level of care you receive, costs can range from $30 to $40/hour.
3. False. Most ALFs reserve a certain number of apartments for residents whose healthcare or financial circumstances change over time and will qualify for Elderly Waiver (EW). Generally, preference will be given to current residents so you may be given an estimated time of how long a resident must live there before qualifying for EW. It is not a requirement, however, and some ALFs reserve more apartments than others for this purpose.
4. True. All nursing homes (SNF’s) are licensed by the state and consistency of care and cost is regulated. Costs are based on each individual’s care plan. There is no “base rent” and prices reflect daily care needs with no extra, hidden costs. Nursing homes in the Twin Cities will quote an estimated $6,000-$9,000/month but this varies in rural areas and smaller cities.
5. False. ALFs are licensed differently and are considered a senior housing option. Typically, residents are charged a monthly rental fee for an apartment similar to an independent senior living community. Then you pay for additional services on top of that amount. These may include laundry, housekeeping, meals and personal cares . Sometimes costs are bundled into packages to make pricing easier for residents. The cost for these services, the type of packages offered and the base rent vary widely so that it may be difficult to compare ALF costs on an “apples-to-apples” basis.
6. True. Adult Day continues to be one of the most affordable ways to provide qualified care to seniors needing additional daily assistance. It’s a great option for in-home caregivers to give them a break and know their family member is getting good care. Most will accept Elderly Waiver or CADI payments. Some accept VA payments as well.

Scoring:

All 6 Correct: You’re a pro! You’re either in the senior services industry or you’ve been doing this for a long time.

4-5 Correct: You’re a savvy senior shopper who looks closely at your options and the costs involved.

Less than 4 Correct: You’re still learning. The fact you took this quiz indicates you’d like to know more than you do. There’s a lot more to learn about senior services and costs and EPPIA is a great place to learn more. Visit our website at www.edenprairieaging.org

Anne Tabat is the Community Relations Manager at Walker Methodist Health Center whose introduction to the senior services industry was ignited by her adventurous mother who housing and care needs spanned the spectrum of options available.

EPPIA is a networking group whose members are committed to the welfare of seniors in our community. EPPIA members meet to learn, exchange information and discuss issues in the field of aging. For more information on EPPIA and local senior resources, please visit our website at www.edenprairieaging.org

The State of Health Insurance

Fresh from the Minnesota Association of Health Underwriters’ (MAHU) 75th Annual Convention the news continues to be the same: changes, challenges and uncertainties. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is still the law of the land at this writing but continues to be challenged. While the current Administration and Congress have touted Repeal and Replace but have so far fallen short in the Senate, where it seems to remain deadlock with a hard Sept 30th deadline to revive. Regardless of the semantics used to describe the process, the most likely option is to pass changes to parts of the ACA – most likely through the National Budget process in the form of waivers or addendums to sections of the current law.

The main area which MAHU/NAHU is addressing is the need for a reinsurance program, a very successful program Minnesota had prior to the ACA, which would create premium stability against excessive losses due to claims for carriers in the individual health insurance marketplace. Minnesota has made this request and is waiting for Congressional review and decision.

Other important areas being discussed surround employee mandates. A proposed bill sponsored by Bill Cassidy (R) and Lindsey Graham (R) which was heard September 18 and focuses on making the ACA mandates apply only to employers with 500+ employees. Another area of impact would be changes to the definition of a full time employee. Currently that definition is any employee who works 30 hours or more. The proposed change would define it as a person working 40 hours or more. This would decrease the burden and cost for many small businesses allowing them to offer alternate health plans and programs not as strictly regulated by the ACA. Businesses with large part time and seasonal employees, for example the service industry, would see greater plan and carrier options to offer their employees. Finally, there is heated discussion surrounding the repeal of the Medical Device Tax. In theory eliminating this tax would decrease the cost of care by lowering the price of claims. According to some advocates this ultimately would allow carriers to keep premiums lower each year. Open Enrollment for individual health care plans begin November 15 and end December 15, 2017.

In the Medicare world, Minnesotans need to begin to brace for certain change on January 1, 2019. This change has nothing to do with the health care debate in Washington related to the Affordable Care Act. These are changes implemented by Medicare that will be taking effect in the future. Approximately 260,000 Minnesotans enrolled in Medicare Cost Plans could be affected when Cost Plans face discontinuation in many counties across Minnesota. This rule change in Medicare also affects populations in MD, VA, and Washington DC. All of the carriers have reacted with changes to their existing plans or introduced new plans for 2018 to make the 2019 transition easier. Finally, announced changes to Medicare starting January 1, 2020 will affect individuals with Medigap plans. All newly purchased 2020 Medigap plans will require individuals to pay the Part B deductible. Those enrolled in Medigap prior to 2020 will not be subject to this change. 2020 will also usher in the loss of several Medigap, both High Deductible options. It is still only 2017 so let’s not get too far ahead of this – a lot can change in a few years! Once again, it is very important to reach out annually to your Medicare or health insurance professional this Annual Election Period starting October 15 – December 7 to ensure that your coverage best meets your current and anticipated healthcare needs. You can also visit Medicare and MNSure for additional information.

Peter Hallberg
The Medicare Shoppe
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

EPPIA is a networking group whose members are committed to the welfare of seniors in our community. EPPIA members meet to learn, exchange information and discuss issues in the field of aging. For more information on EPPIA and local senior resources, please visit our website at www.edenprairieaging.org

Must Love Dogs!

Depression, anxiety and loneliness are mental health issues for many older adults. Living the credo from a 2005 movie, Must Love Dogs, can help keep us active, provide companionship, and give meaning and purpose to our lives at any age.

As we get older, we often lose some of the relationships that keep us grounded, be it a spouse, friends or a career. While seniors in relationships experience these issues of loss, they may have a larger impact for those who live alone. I suggest that not only can a dog help us with these issues, they can also help us find new human companions.

How can our relationship with man’s (and woman’s) best friend be this special? There is scientific evidence to back up the positive benefits of dog ownership. A Japanese study published in Science (April 2015) found that staring into a dog’s eyes generates the hormone oxytocin in both the dog and the human. This is the hormone helps generate emotional bonds in humans. We too bond by staring into each other’s eyes. A more recent genetic study shows some canines have genes which correspond to human genes that make us more outgoing and friendly.

Beyond the science, if you’ve ever had a dog as a pet, you have experienced unconditional love. The wagging tail. The happy expression. The dog’s need to be touched by humans and to touch its owner, express this special bond between our two species. We too have a need for physical touch. Exercising a dog and caring for their needs is a positive and affirming activity. Most dogs crave attention. They will show you one way or another that they want to be walked, petted and played with. Yes, they are a responsibility. They need to be fed, exercised and loved. But that connection adds purpose to our life.

Walking a dog gives both of you exercise, a chance to get out and be with nature (another healing activity) and the chance to connect with people. If you don’t get out of the house, how are you going to meet new people? A walk in the neighborhood, or going to a dog park are fine ideas. Being in the moment while walking the dog can be akin to a meditation. It’s a calming, restorative activity. Practice focused breathing, shut off the mind chatter and be aware of what you and your pet see and sense while getting out and about.

Just like human relationships, if we put the work into the relationship with our dog(s), we’ll reap the rewards. Just be informed about what kind of dog you choose. Many breeds were developed for specific functions. These tendencies may make one sort of canine a better fit for your needs. Still young and athletic? Some dogs will love to run with you. Concerned about safety at home? Some dogs are more protective than others. But whatever pure, or mixed breed you choose, make sure sociability is high on their skill list. And, make sure you are willing and able to spend the time training a pet to be the kind of companion you desire.

If you choose wisely and care for them well, a dog will be an endless source of love, joy and companionship and truly will help make your golden years more golden.

Richard Jensen is an estate planning attorney (952) 944-0406, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Reine, his constant companion, is a 10-year-old English Cocker Spaniel.

EPPIA is a networking group whose members are committed to the welfare of seniors in our community. EPPIA members meet to learn, exchange information and discuss issues in the field of aging. For more information on EPPIA and local senior resources, please visit our website at www.edenprairieaging.org

Simplify Your Move

Moving is stressful enough at any time in life, but it is the most stressful for older adults. Why? Older adults have accumulated more things in their lifetimes, they often haven’t moved for decades, and they are often less mobile and able to perform packing and other tasks associated with moving. Additionally, there may be family dynamics that can be more or less helpful which include adult children who live out of town, lead busy lives, or have differing viewpoints on what and how things should be done and who should do it. These types of factors can leave the older adult feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and powerless regarding their own life choices and ability to move forward.

One mistake people sometimes make in moving is doing things out of order, which creates unnecessary stress and confusion. Here are a few simple steps that may help ease your mind and your move.

Step 1: Assess your needs including what area you want to live in, what amenities you would like, how much you want to pay for rent, etc.

Step 2: Tour several senior communities to get a first-hand feel for what feels good to you and make a decision about where you will live.

Step 3: Decide what you want to take to your new home (furniture, household items, etc.)

Step 4: Pack your household and personal items you want to move with you.

Step 5: Move your furniture and other belongings to your new home.

Step 6: Unpack your belongings and set up your new home.

Step 7: Sell, donate, recycle, and dispose of excess items you do not move to your new home.

Step 8: Put your current home on the market.

Tips To Know and Use:  There are companies that will help guide you through the process of assessing your needs and taking you on tours to senior communities at no cost to you. Their costs are covered by the senior community. Also, move management companies exist that will help you downsize, develop a floor plan, pack, move, and unpack you quickly and easily. Some of these companies will also help you downsize and get rid of items you no longer want. Other companies will sell desirable furniture and household items for you and charge only a percentage of the value of the sold items for their service. And, finally, there are realtors that will help you in a number of ways. Some recommend selling a house “as is” whereas others may recommend a few updates to improve the look of your home, and some prefer to have a home that is staged rather than vacant. Depending on the type of approach your realtor recommends, Step 8 (above) might be moved higher in the list and happen sooner rather than at the end of the move process.

Things To Avoid:  Do not overfill your new home in terms of furniture, kitchen items, etc. etc. This is the single largest mistake most people make. People often say that they will go through and sort/throw things once they get to their new home, but this seldom actually happens. If you are having a hard time parting with things you own, consider getting a storage space instead of overcrowding your new home. If you and/or your family decide to do your own packing, make sure you properly wrap items and label boxes. We have unpacked boxes that others have packed, even professionals, and I am amazed at how poorly organized and protected some packing jobs can be.

Final Advice:  Get help from the types of companies and services discussed in this article. It will make your move less stressful and ensure that you end up living where you want to live and greatly reduce the stress of moving. Visit the EPPIA website listed at the end of this article to learn about companies that can help you make the most out of the life-changing decision of moving.

Holly Hansen, Partner
Brilliant Moves This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
612-605-7303

EPPIA is a networking group whose members are committed to the welfare of seniors in our community. EPPIA members meet to learn, exchange information and discuss issues in the field of aging. For more information on EPPIA and local senior resources, please visit our website at www.edenprairieaging.org

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