By Betty Berry, Dec. 27, 2011

Q: I have been attending the Senior Concerns seminars for caregivers. The last presentation was in November, and we were told the series would continue in January. Do you have particulars on the next presentation?

A: Solving the Aging Puzzle’s third presentation in the Caregiving Rollercoaster series — “Who Can Help Me?” — will be from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Jan. 10 at Senior Concerns Day Care Center, 401 Hodencamp Road in Thousand Oaks.

It will be facilitated by Christy Cantrell, information and assistance specialist for the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging, and Lori Bliss, Senior Concerns case management coordinator.

They will discuss caregiver support, what to look for when selecting in-home care and financial aid resources.

The presentation also will provide information about legal resources, types of long-term care and how to pay for it.

There will be time at the end of the presentation for audience questions.

Reservations are suggested and can be made by calling Senior Concerns at 497-0189. Walk-ins are welcome if seats are open.

If you need respite care for a special-needs senior to attend, you can make arrangements at the center when making your reservation. Reservations for respite care are required.

Other talks in the series will be February’s “The Loneliness of a Caregiver,” March’s “Caregiving for the Caregiver,” “Balancing Family, Work and Caregiving” in April and “When it’s All Said and Done” in May.

Q: At the start of each year, I get confused about the Medicare Part B deductible. I see several doctors and never know which one I should pay. There must be a simple explanation. Can you provide one?

A: The key to understanding the puzzle appears in the Medicare Summary Notice.

The Medicare Part D deductible is applied on a “first claim received, first claim applied to the deductible” basis. In other words, when the new year begins, Medicare will apply your first claim or claims received to your deductible until the full deductible has been satisfied. The first claim Medicare receives may or may not be from the first doctor you saw in the year.

Your summary notice will show you which provider’s services Medicare applied to the deductible, the amount of the deductible owed to that provider and how much of the deductible has been met for the year. The provider will bill you for the amount owed.

Once the deductible has been satisfied, the next summary notices will state that your deductible has been met for the year and Medicare will start to pay its portion of new claims.

Your provider has the option to request the deductible amount at the time of your visit because the status of your deductible may not be known at the time of your appointment. I suggest you wait until you get your summary notice before making any payment. Better still, wait for a doctor’s bill.

Final thought

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of my readers a very happy and safe new year.

Betty Berry is a senior advocate for Senior Concerns. The advocates are at the Goebel Senior Adult Center, 1385 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362; phone 495-6250 or email (Please include your telephone number.) You are invited to submit questions on senior issues.

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