QUESTION: I’ve been widowed for almost two years and am considering a move. My home and yard are more than I want to continue to take care of. I am active and independent and don’t need to be taken care of but at times am very lonely. I’m considering what they call retirement living. Can you provide some guidance about his subject?
ANSWER: I’d be delighted to tell you what I know about researching retirement living. You’ll find this type of living accommodation referred to as a retirement community, a retirement facility, independent living or congregate living.
These accommodations are designed for independent senior adults and provide apartment like living with 24-hour on-site staff available should a problem occur. Services usually include meals, housekeeping, laundry, social activities (entertainment and educational) and transportation.
Plan to visit all the retirement facilities available in your area so you can compare what is offered. Some facilities offer the opportunity to stay for two or three days so you can experience what it is like to live there. If you are offered such an opportunity I encourage you to take it.
QUESTION: A month or so ago you wrote about the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute known as OLLI at CSU Channel Islands. I would like to know if in addition to those classes there are any field trips to points of academic interest?
ANSWER: Yes. In addition to the many interesting classes this program makes available it also offers academic tours. local educational field trips and a book club.
These tours are by bus and usually have an instructor on board to add some information about what will be seen and to answer any questions.
These trips are open to OLLI students, however, those who are not enrolled in OLLI classes can purchase an annual membership for $25. The membership fee covers a fiscal year that runs from September through the following August. This membership makes the purchaser eligible to sign up for tours, receive e-mails and brochures on different activities and classes being offered.
QUESTION: I am a low income senior and have heard friends talk about assistance they are receiving from various programs. Do you have a contact I could call to see if I may be eligible for some type of help?
ANSWER: You have asked a question which may be of interest to many low income seniors.
The Ventura County Area Agency on Aging has a program that is administered through the Health Insurance Counseling Advocacy Program, known as HICAP, which is called Benefit Enrollment Check-Up.
The Benefit Enrollment Check-UP program has information about various programs that can provide assistance to eligible seniors. Many of these programs have income maximums and asset liabilities but the trained counselors can help determine which programs a senior may be eligible for.
QUESTION: If I remember correctly it is about this time of year that Medicare has its Annual Open Enrollment. Can you provide the dates?
ANSWER: Medicare Annual Open Enrollment will start on Thursday October 15th and run through Monday December 7th.
During this period you can change the coverage you have from Medicare-fee-for-service to a Senior Advantage Plan or from a Senior Advantage Plan to Medicare-fee-for-service or from one Senior Advantage Plan to another Senior Advantage Plan.
This is the time when you should also review your Medicare Part D – Prescription Drug Coverage. Each year insurance companies change, formularies change and co-pays, deductibles and monthly premiums change and your needs may also change. This annual open enrollment period is the time to review the coverage you currently have and compare it to what will be available in the coming year.
QUESTION: Lately it seems that my doctor and I aren’t communicating too well. Is there something I can do to help improve this situation?
ANSWER: Yes, there are some things you can do to help the doctor-patient relationship. Communication is a two-way street, speaking and listening, and both parties have a responsibility to make sure understanding takes place.
For years doctors have been given all the blame for not listening and for responding in medical terms not understood by the patient. However, the patient also must take more blame for not providing clear explanations and failing to really listen to what the doctor says.
To receive a correct diagnosis it is crucial that your doctor receive detailed, not vague, descriptions of your symptoms. The doctor needs the whole picture.