Dear Donna:

I am the caregiver for my 71 year old mother who has Alzheimer’s disease. In the past she has been able to handle Medicare open enrollment on her own. This year, for the first time, I will be responsible for this task. I’m not yet eligible for Medicare myself so this is all new to me. Can you help me figure out where and how to get started? I know this is important and I don’t want to make a mistake.

Karen in Holland, Michigan

Dear Karen:

Thank you for this great question! The open enrollment period for Medicare runs from October 15th through December 7th every year. It is the time when Medicare recipients can make changes to their current plan. Because we do receive this question from the adult children of our residents quite often, we have put together this list to help you make the most of open enrollment.


  1. Review your mother’s Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) even if you are happy with her current coverage. Double check to be sure the benefits of her plan will be the same in 2014 and that her current health care partners will still be a part of the plan.
  2. Should you decide you want to investigate different options for her, the Medicare Plan Finder tool will allow you to search for plans in her area by zip code.
  3. If your mother is participating in a Medicare Advantage plan, the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP) is from January 1st through February 14th each year. If you are unhappy with her plan, you can dis-enroll then.
  4. Drug coverage is always an area where adult children have many questions. To learn more about this part of her Medicare benefit, you can visit the Medicare website drug coverage resources.
  5. Finally, Medicare developed a brochure Have You Done Your Yearly Medicare Review that you can download for free to help you conduct this annual audit of her Medicare coverage.

I hope this helps you get started! If you have specific questions about her Medicare coverage, you can call Medicare directly at 1-800-MEDICARE for help. I always recommend that caregivers take notes when they call Medicare including the date, time and name of the person they spoke with for advice.


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