Medicare Open Enrollment Advice for Adult Children

Medicare Open Enrollment Advice for Adult Children

Dear Donna:

For the first time this year I will be helping my father with his Medicare Open Enrollment. My mother passed away unexpectedly last year and it is something she always did for both of them. I know it is an important process, but I’m not quite sure how to help him. I’m not yet eligible for Medicare myself so I don’t really understand what is covered, what isn’t and why he might need to make changes.

Can you help?

Doris in Holland, Michigan

Dear Doris:

First off, please accept my condolences. I’m sure this has been a tough year for you and your Dad.

It isn’t uncommon for adult children to find themselves struggling to help a parent with Medicare Open Enrollment. Like you, many have not yet reached the age when they are eligible for the benefit. So the alphabet soup of Medicare A, B, C and D can be very confusing. Here is just a quick overview of what each part of Medicare covers:

  • Medicare Part A:
    • Inpatient hospital care
    • Short-term skilled nursing and rehab (if qualifying conditions are met)
    • Hospice care
    • Home health care (if qualifying conditions are met)
  • Medicare Part B:
    • Physicians & other health care providers
    • Outpatient rehab (up to a pre-determined limit)
    • Some medical equipment
    • Ambulance services for an emergency
    • Some preventative services and screenings
  • Medicare Part D:
    • Prescription medications

Equally important is understanding what is NOT covered by your father’s Medicare benefit:

  • Long-term care in a nursing home or assisted living
  • Routine dental care and eye care
  • Hearing aids & exams
  • Routine foot care
  • In-home care

Medicare has a brochure you may find helpful in getting started. Yearly Medicare Plan Review is a free download that has important dates and resources to assist you with Medicare Open Enrollment.

I hope this information makes the process go more smoothly for you and your father, Doris!



Heritage Senior Communities is pleased to announce that our newest community is opening soon in Holland, Michigan. The Village at Appledorn West will offer adults over the age of 55 one- and two-bedroom independent living apartments. The campus will also be expanded to include assisted living in the spring of 2015.

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Alzheimer’s Awareness Month in Michigan

Alzheimer’s Awareness Month in Michigan

November is designated as National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. As our population grows older, the number of people in the state of Michigan living with Alzheimer’s climbs higher. So while a person living in the U.S. has a lower chance of developing Alzheimer’s than they would have 30 years ago, the sheer number of older adults in our country is what is driving the increase in the number of people with the disease.

According to the Greater Michigan Chapter of The Alzheimer’s Association, an estimated 130,000 people in Michigan live with Alzheimer’s disease.

The Statistics on Alzheimer’s Disease

As one of the leading providers of Alzheimer’s care in Michigan, we thought it was important to share some of the statistics on this growing epidemic.

  • Someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s every 68 seconds. By 2050, estimates are that number will increase to every 33 seconds.
  • More than 5.2 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease. 200,000 of those people are considered to have early onset Alzheimer’s because they are under the age of 65.
  • Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.
  • One in three older adults in the U.S. dies from Alzheimer’s disease or a related form of dementia.
  • This year alone 450,000 people will die from Alzheimer’s disease.
  • In this last decade, the number of deaths caused by Alzheimer’s disease has increased by 68%. This is in stark contrast to a decrease in deaths for nearly every other major disease in the U.S.
  • 4 million people provide for a family member or a friend with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia.
  • Unpaid family caregivers provide 17.5 billion hours of unpaid care each year. If families had to pay for that care, it would total more than $216 billion a year.
  • By 2050, the U.S. will spend an estimated $1.2 trillion providing care for Alzheimer’s patients.
  • The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that Medicare paid $107 billion for care for people with Alzheimer’s disease and Medicaid paid $35 billion in 2013.
  • Almost 15% of caregivers provide care long distance. Their expenses for caregiving are two times higher than those of local caregivers.

We hope you will share this information with leaders in your local Michigan communities who can help in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.


Heritage Senior Communities is pleased to announce that our newest community in Holland, Michigan. The Village at Appledorn West offers adults over the age of 55 one- and two-bedroom independent living apartments. The campus will also be expanded to include assisted living in the spring of 2015.


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Shoo the Flu: Holiday Advice for Michigan Caregivers

Shoo the Flu: Holiday Advice for Michigan Caregivers

If you’ve watched the evening news anytime in the past few months, you know that the flu virus made its way across Michigan early this year. Some areas of the state have been especially hard hit. As is always the case, children, seniors and those living with chronic health conditions and weakened immune systems are at increased risk for contracting the virus. Now that the busy holiday season is upon us, we thought it was important to take a few minutes to remind Michigan’s family caregivers how they can best avoid getting bitten by the bug this year.

6 Ways to Avoid the Flu over the Holidays

Most of us spend more time interacting with others during the holidays than almost any other time of year. From holiday shopping to office parties, it isn’t easy to avoid coming in to contact with people who may have the flu. But there are a few things you can do to keep from getting it.

  1. Get your flu shot. The vaccine is the best way to shoo the flu. If you haven’t had yours for the year, make it a priority.
  2. Care for the caregiver. During the holidays, already busy caregivers feel even more overwhelmed. A lack of sleep and poor diet are often the result. Both lead to a rundown immune system that makes you more susceptible to the virus. Try to increase the amount of foods you eat that are rich in vitamins A, E, and C, and to take at least a 20 to 30 minute walk each day.
  3. No hugs or handshakes in public. While avoiding friendly contact can be difficult during the holidays, it can help prevent you from getting the flu. The virus is highly contagious and easily transmitted. Getting a hug or a handshake from a friend or colleague who may not be aware they have the flu can expose you to it.
  4. Soap and warm water. Washing your hands with warm, soapy water can help kill any viruses you may have been exposed to at work or when you are out in public. Health experts say you should wash your hands long enough to be able to sing a chorus of Yankee Doodle Dandy. Keep hand sanitizers with you for the times you won’t have access to soap and water.
  5. Stay home when you are ill. Calling in sick to work is something most people hesitate to do. But it is the fastest way for you to rest and recover, and the best way to prevent the virus from spreading.
  6. Antiviral medications help. If you are one of the unlucky ones who come down with the flu, call your doctor for an appointment as soon as you notice the first symptom. Experts from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) say prescription antiviral medications can keep the flu from progressing and shorten the length of time you are sick.

To help consumers learn more about this year’s influenza virus and provide more prevention tips, The Department of Health and Human Services has developed Topics range from flu shot questions to risk factors.


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8 Ways to Honor Michigan’s Veterans and Soldiers on Veteran’s Day

8 Ways to Honor Michigan’s Veterans and Soldiers on Veteran’s Day

As we make plans to honor and celebrate both our veterans and our active duty military members on November 11th, we thought it would be a good time to share ways you can get involved. We have pulled together a list of organizations that serve those who serve and need your support to continue their mission.

Military Service Organizations You Can Support

  1. Homes for Our Troops. If you are looking for a project for your group or service organization to work on together, this is one to consider. They build homes for injured veterans to help them rebuild their lives.
  2. Wounded Warrior Project. This organization works to raise awareness about the needs of our wounded soldiers and their families. They help by providing programs ranging from combat stress recovery to health and wellness.
  3. Military Pets Foster Project. This might be a good organization to support if you are an animal lover. You can become a foster “parent” for the pet of a deployed military service person. The organization helps find temporary caregivers a variety of animals including dogs, cats, horses and birds.
  4. Honor Flight Network. At no cost to the veteran, this non-profit organization arranges trips to Washington, D.C. to visit the memorials dedicated to their service.
  5. Operation Gratitude. The mission of this organization is to send care packages to troops deployed in hostile regions. Care packages typically include letters, snacks, books, DVDs and more. Another arm of this organization is Battalion Buddies. They send toys to children of deployed military personnel.
  6. Operation Paperback. Another non-profit dedicated to our military, this organization collects new and gently used paperback books to send to American troops around the world.
  7. Operation Homefront. When a family member is deployed, it sometimes creates a financial burden for loved ones left behind. This organization helps provide food, home repair support, moving assistance, car repair, travel help and more to military families.

We hope this list gives your family, youth group or service organization a few ideas for supporting our veterans and military service members.

Have we missed a worthwhile organization you know needs help? Please share their information in the Comments section below!


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Fire Prevention Awareness & Hearing Loss

Fire Prevention Awareness & Hearing Loss

Dear Donna:

My father’s hearing loss has gotten very bad over the past few years. While I want him to be able to stay independent for as long as possible, I worry a lot about his ability to be safe. I’m especially concerned because, despite our best efforts to convince him to stop, he still smokes. I was at his house one day when the smoke alarm in the dining room went off while he was cooking and he didn’t even hear it! I’m not sure what to do with him.

Alysha in Holland, Michigan

Dear Alysha:

You are right. Smoking and hearing loss are a tough combination. I’m sure it is does create a lot of anxiety for you.

There are definitely smoke detectors and alert systems that can help with your father’s situation. They are specifically designed for those living with a hearing impairment. I’m sure they can help to ease some of the fears you have about your father’s safety. Most of the major smoke detector manufacturers make them. What is different about these products is that they flash a strobe light and/or send out a strong vibration to alert those living with a hearing impairment of the danger. Many also have an alert that will actually shake the bed in case the home’s resident is sleeping when the smoke detector goes off.

Thank you for sharing your concern with us, Alysha. It provides us with an opportunity to help raise awareness about National Fire Prevention Week which begins on October 4th. Seniors are twice as likely to be harmed or fatally injured in a fire. After the age of 85, that risk goes up to four times more likely.

There are a variety of ways you and other adult children in Michigan can to decrease a senior loved one’s fire safety risk. The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) has a library of resources that can help. They range from kitchen safety tips to escape planning.

I hope this information is helpful, Alysha!


“Dear Donna” is an aging expert from Heritage Senior Communities, a family-owned company serving seniors across the state of Michigan for 67 years. Older adults in the greater Holland area will soon have the opportunity to tour our nearly completed Village at Appledorn West community. It will be home to 88 independent senior living apartments. Construction is projected to be completed this month. An assisted living community will also open on the same campus in the late spring of 2015.


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