By Betty Berry, Tuesday, August 2, 2011  Q: I have had several family members who were victims of Alzheimer’s disease and am most interested in any progress that is being developed to eliminate this disease. Do you know of any event that will be discussing this subject?

A: Yes, I do. Some information has just come across my desk. In January of this year, the National Alzheimer’s Project was created. This project was charged with developing a national plan to address the escalating public health crisis.

The California Central Coast Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association will hold a session to solicit views, comments and perspectives from those who have been affected by this devastating disease.

This public input session is scheduled for Aug. 18 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Senior Concerns Day Center, 401 Hodencamp Road, Thousand Oaks.

Those who are living with Alzheimer’s, their caregivers, representatives from state and local government, and those from the research community, health systems and long-term care facilities are invited to come out and share thoughts about what needs to be addressed.

For more information about this event and other events being held or to make reservations to attend, you can RSVP online at (click on “Attend Events”) or contact Andrew Peake at 892-4259

This is an opportunity to make your voice heard.

Q: It seems every time I pick up the newspaper, I read about another case of elder abuse. What is considered elder abuse and, if suspected, who can help?

A: Elder abuse is a growing concern for the many agencies and individuals serving the senior population. Abuse can be inflected in numerous ways. It can be physical, emotional or financial abuse or it can be a result of neglect or abandonment.

Physical abuse is any pain or injury inflicted by a person in charge of care or in a position of trust. It is probably the easiest form of abuse to recognize.

Emotional abuse is willful infliction of mental suffering.

Financial abuse is any theft or misuse of an elder’s assets by a person in a position of trust. Detection is sometimes made difficult by the way an elder has elected to hold title to assets.

Neglect can result from failure of a caregiver to provide reasonable personal hygiene care, medical care or protection from health and safety hazards.

Abandonment is considered the desertion of an elder by someone responsible for the care and custody when the senior cannot manage for himself or herself.

Suspicion of any type of elder abuse should be reported. Adult Protection Services can be reached at 654-3200. If the elder is residing in a long-term care facility, the contact is the long-term care ombudsman at 656-1986.

Q: The cost of placing someone in a nursing home is way beyond my means. If I need this type of care, how will the cost be covered?

A: Your concern is not unique. For most people, finding ways to finance nursing home care is a major concern.

The four basic ways in which nursing home costs may be financed are personal resources, private insurance, Medi-Cal and Medicare, but only in very specific and limited situations.

Many people entering a nursing home first pay for their care with personal resources. However, due to the high cost, many families use up their resources quickly and then must apply for assistance through the Medi-Cal program.

It is wise to know the eligibility requirements before entering a facility. This state and federal program is available to individuals with low incomes and limited resources. The nursing home used must be certified for Medi-Cal.

More and more families are considering the purchase of long-term care insurance to cover nursing home care. Because costs of long-term care policies vary greatly, even for similar policies, shopping and price comparison are important.

Under some very limited circumstances, Medicare hospital insurance (Part A) will pay for a short fixed period of skilled nursing facility care. The facility must be Medicare-certified and under no circumstances will Medicare pay if the services required are for custodial care only.

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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