I remember growing up and watching my aging grandmother sit by her living room window, looking out, waiting for nothing in particular to happen – just watching her life pass her by.
That sad, helpless memory always stayed with me, but I was never able to take that sadness and transform it something productive, something that could help people.
Then, 20 years ago, I became involved with the New Jersey Advocates for Aging Well (formerly New Jersey Foundation for Aging).
I joined the organization and first served on an Advisory Council. I then ascended to the Board of Trustees, became its Chair for six years and after my term as Chair expired, I am serving as a Board member again.
Realizing a Wish
I wanted to do something that would make the lives of older adults more meaningful and enriched, so more grandmothers (and grandfathers) would not have to stare out of apartment windows. At the time, then-NJFA, with its emphasis/focus on facilitating seniors to live independently, actively and in their community, gave me the opportunity to realize this wish.
To me, it is the accomplishments and actualization of our vision that is most valuable, as it shows me that we aremaking a difference. Coupled with this is the engagement and dedication of our Board members, who seek to bring those things to life. This is all done in concert with the extremely hard work and devotion of our staff, who move our agenda forward every day. This is why this change in our name, New Jersey Advocates for Aging Well, more accurately describes who we are and what we do.
We tend to think that “getting older” is something that is going to happen in the future. However, it is happening every day, and educating yourself about what you and your loved ones are going to face as you live and age in New Jersey, is critical.
Everyone has a right to age well in the community of their choice. As the New Jersey Advocates for Aging Well, we will continue to provide leadership in public policy and education and work diligently to ensure that all New Jersey residents can do just that.
Included in NJAAW’s name change is an updated logo and this new website, which is a portal packed with reliable information on programs and services available in New Jersey to help you live life to the fullest.
NJAAW will present educational forums and its Annual Conference (online June 3 and 4) offering development opportunities and best practices for professionals entrusted with caring for seniors. Our award-winning monthly TV talk show, “Aging Insights,” features local and national experts and connects seniors, their families and caregivers to community-based services and resources. The program can be viewed on our YouTube channel at youtube.com/user/njaaw/ (where you can subscribe and get notified of upcoming topics), here on our website and more than 70 public-access TV channels throughout our state.
This is an historic moment! Nearly 23 years have passed since we were founded. Now, in 2021, we have a new name, a new logo, a new website. Our mission, however, never changes!
New Jersey Advocates for Aging Well. Join me in celebrating and spreading the word!
Mark Tabakman (MTabakman@foxrothschild.com) is a Partner, Labor & Employment Department, at Fox Rothschild, LLP, where he has practiced since 1987. He is conversant in all aspects of employment law and has expertise in wage-hour and overtime law, including defense of employers in numerous DOL audits and wage lawsuits.
The onset of the pandemic hit NJ’s Foster Grandparent Program hard. The novel coronavirus was particularly concerning to our program because according to public health officials, two of the most vulnerable groups at risk were seniors aged 65 and older and school-age children. Unfortunately, those also happen to be the core segments of our program’s demographics…
New Jersey’s Foster Grandparent Program (NJ/FGP), part of AmeriCorps Seniors, provides low-income senior residents, ages 55 and up, with the opportunity to work one-on-one as mentors and role models to children with special or exceptional needs.
Volunteers, who must be retired and/or receiving Social Security, do this work in classrooms or institutionalized settings throughout the state. Income eligibility (200% under the federal poverty line), criminal history and background checks are required for volunteers to serve, and they receive a tax-free stipend of $3 an hour. Travel reimbursement, free breakfast and lunch provisions, supplemental accident and liability insurance and an annual award-recognition event are some of the program benefits.
Foster Grandparents support schools and community needs related to children where traditional services are not available, such as encouraging socialization, modeling appropriate behaviors and skills, assisting in the development of motor and learning skills, tutoring, listening, talking, singing, walking and reading.
In March, the new reality of pandemic-related lockdowns, social distancing and limits on travel and gatherings were put in place as safety measures by Gov. Murphy’s executive orders. Such measures kept our Foster Grandparent volunteers at home and off duty.
Major fears for our volunteers escalated because many were afraid or not able to leave their homes, even to shop for food. And a few of our volunteers suffer from food insecurities and isolation.
HELP AND KEEPING CONNECTED
My colleagues and I made weekly phone checks to our volunteers, home visits to drop off food to those in need and ran errands as a courtesy to those who expressed a need. We also completed monthly conference calls to keep all of our volunteers connected to the program and each other.
Fortunately, the national office of AmeriCorps Seniors has made it possible to continue monthly stipends during this period by providing a COVID-19 allowance until December 31, 2020. Many of our volunteers have come to rely on these stipends.
BACK TO SERVICE
Now that some of the Governor’s executive orders, COVID curfews and closure restrictions are lifting, and some schools have re-opened, we are working to transition our volunteers back into service. A number of our volunteers remain concerned about the potential risks that COVID-19 may have on their health, and we’re concerned for them as well. Nonetheless, the majority cannot wait to go back to their sites. They love and miss working with the children.
Our pathway back to service includes practicing social distancing, using required personal protective equipment (PPE) and taking on new permissible service roles.
COVID-19 thrusted our senior volunteers into the virtual world. Many of our older adults were not very “tech-savvy” and nervous about all things web-related. Right away, we saw first-hand how Foster Grandparents were deeply affected by the digital divide. Our volunteers not only lacked the knowledge of how to use technology, but they also lacked the equipment and access to the internet.
As a team, we developed a few solutions to address this issue, starting with training. We now have a mandatory “Computing 101” course that includes setting up WiFi, how to log in and how to use Zoom. We have also teamed up with CyberSeniors, a national organization whose mission is to bridge the digital divide, and Rutgers Extension to provide online training content and services.
Besides virtual engagement with the students during the coronavirus, our volunteers have been packing and delivering lunches to students in local NJ communities and serving as School Greeters to walk students to their classrooms, because parents are no longer allowed in school buildings. Those volunteers who are more tech-savvy are helping as in-person guides and assistants to students learning virtually at home or in the classroom.
Foster Grandparents join the program to give back to communities and offer their time, wisdom and unique skills. We are so pleased that NJ FGP volunteers are able to continue to serve children and their families throughout this pandemic.
It is quite rewarding to see our volunteers in their “second act” of life learning new skills and becoming essential resources. “Volunteers add positivity, care, and warmth that the children in our center need to thrive,” Program Director Pat Staltari says. “The volunteers give that extra love and attention that many of our students are not receiving at home. We love our grannies!”
When you volunteer, you’re not just helping others — you’re also helping yourself. Volunteering leads to new discoveries and new friends. Additionally, in a two-year AmeriCorps Seniors study completed in 2018, 85% of participants said that volunteering helped stabilize or improve their health. Plus, 88% of the volunteers said that they felt less isolated and now have a new purpose in life. Other research shows that volunteering helps you live longer and promotes a positive outlook on life. Join us!
For more information on NJ’s Foster Grandparent Program, and to meet guest blogger Lauren Lamin and Grandma LuLu, one of her volunteers, watch Aging Insights, Episode 110 on NJFA’s YouTube channel.
Lauren Lamin (left) is a Program Coordinator with the New Jersey Foster Grandparent Program (NJ/FGP), an AmeriCorps Seniors program. NJ/FGP is sponsored by NJ Department of State, Governor’s Office of Volunteerism (GOV). Donna Teel is NJ/FGP Director and Rowena Madden is Executive Director GOV. For more information, visit https://nationalservice.gov/programs/senior-corps, follow @VolunteerNJ on Facebook, and email Lauren at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many families and loved ones across the nation are held together by the support of their caregivers. Day in and day out, these brave individuals are the ones making the sacrifice to ensure the well-being of so many.
According to “2020 Report: Caregiving in the U.S.,” a May 2020 research report from AARP, there are an estimated 63 million caregivers in the United States, and this community continues to grow. With aging generations needing more to support their healthcare, many people are finding themselves becoming caregivers.
An intimidating role to step into, being a caregiver is no easy task – especially during a global pandemic. There are many struggles and challenges to face. However, as a nation and as a caregiving community, we are united in resilience to meet them head-on.
Over the years, the caregiving community, healthcare community, government and so many others have come together to bring resources to our bravest individuals – our caregivers. Whether in our homes or on our frontlines, there is always help. Let us show you.
Getting Started The caregiver role can take many shapes. It could be someone caring for an aging parent, a loved one with a disability or even a young adult caring for a relative. You could be getting groceries, helping with physical therapy, arranging appointments, administering prescriptions/medical care and much more. No matter what role a caregiver has, there are several first steps that every caregiver should take:
• Get a solid diagnosis: Having an accurate distinction of the disability or medical condition your loved one is facing will help you become a better caregiver. You will have more of an understanding of what you can do and what you should research to provide the best standard of care.
• Research: The more you know about the condition/disability, the better. This will prepare you for the care you can provide and allow you to have deeper communication with medical staff. Additionally, you can find and connect with caregiving resources that are more central to the needs you find (see below).
• Talk with Family/Loved Ones: It is important to include those who are relevant to your loved one throughout this process. The treatment your loved one receives and how the process is handled can become very personal, and tough decisions may need to be made. Having open and honest discussions can create a better circle of support and understanding as you all go through this together.
• Finances: There should be clear outlines of a financial plan to care for your loved one. Again, this involves talking with those who are relevant to the person needing care, as well as medical providers and insurance. Creating a well-thought-out budget will help you focus on the more important parts of being a caregiver, which will minimize stress.
• Complete Legal Paperwork: This might include a Power of Attorney, Advance Medical Directives, POLST form, wills, etc. Having these documents completed ahead of time will provide answers to questions down the road if the condition worsens, and alleviate stress. It is always better to be prepared, even if these are difficult conversations to have.
Connect with your Local Community There are 63 million caregivers nationwide, and you are never far from help. All across the country, there are people just like you who have come together to create resources for the community. Doing some research to find out what is available in your area can be extremely helpful when it comes to answering questions, finding the best care or even just finding someone to listen to. Locating your closest caregiving coalition, such as Caregivers of New Jersey, can provide you with a more personal level of support and resources.
Caring for YOU Caring for someone 24/7 is no easy job. When you spend so much time caring for others, you may forget to take care of the most important part of caregiving – YOU!
According to a 2020 AARP survey, 26% percent of family caregivers described their situation as “highly stressful.” High levels of stress can take an immense toll on personal health. As AARP notes in their updated May 2020 article, titled “Caregiver Burnout: Steps for Coping with Stress,” 4 in 10 caregivers experience depression, mood swings and resentment due to their position.
There are many resources that can help you avoid this burnout. One of the main things caregivers need is simply time away. This is where respite care steps in. Respite care is short-term or temporary substitute care to relieve the primary caregiver. This can be found through Caregivers of New Jersey, some senior residential facilities, Veteran’s associations, local adult daycares, your local Area Agency on Aging, or even just family and friends.
Do not be afraid to ask for help! The help is there; you just need to speak up for yourself. You cannot be a good caregiver if you cannot care for yourself first. Practicing this “put-your-oxygen-mask-on-first” metaphor is not only better for you but better for your loved one.
Caregivers of New Jersey (CNJ) (njcaregivers.org) is dedicated to providing a central point of contact on caregiving issues, resulting in more effective information dissemination, increased support, awareness and advocacy. CNJ offers a wide array of resources for the caregiving community in counties across NJ, including support coordination, coalitions, and advocacy, as well as training and events. CNJ always puts the caregiver’s best interest at the heart of everything we do.
Caregivers of New Jersey was formed in response to the growing number of caregivers within the state. With more than 1.3 million caregivers in the state, CNJ will work to shed light on the mounting needs of caregivers and the increased need for support.
As we begin to think about the start of a new year, we also get ready to show the 100th episode of Aging Insights! In honor of this major achievement, we thought we’d take a few moments to familiarize you with Aging Insights (if you’re not already), and tell you a little about what’s in store for Aging Insights this year and beyond.
NJFA’s mission is to provide leadership in public policy and education to enable New Jersey older adults to live with independence and dignity in their communities. And one of our primary goals is to be an information source for older adults and those who care for them to gather information that helps them live independently.
Now that you know that, you might be asking how does NJFA accomplish that?
Well, for starters, right here at this blog and on our website where we provide informative articles and links to resources.
We also aim to connect you to programs, services and trending issues through our TV program, Aging Insights. Never heard of it? Hop on over to NJFA’s YouTube channel (after you finish reading this blog of course!). The show can also be seen on over 70 municipal based TV stations across our state, if your town isn’t airing the show- call and ask them about it.
Aging Insights began as Aging Today and was originally a production of the Middlesex County Department of Aging and was hosted by their former Executive Director Peg Chester (Peg is also a Founding Trustee of NJFA). NJFA took over production of the show in October 2011 and renamed it Aging Insights. Expanding the focus to a statewide audience.
We are about to celebrate an amazing milestone. Aging Insights’ 100th episode will air in January of 2020. The episode will feature clips from previous shows and commentary from staff, board members and partners. We hope you’ll join us in celebrating, but also stick around for more- as we are not done yet! We will continue to produce Aging Insights and bring you, our audience more interviews with leaders across our state, more important updates on Medicare, more details about helpful programs like SNAP, PAAD and more. So, won’t you keep watching?
Finally, we want to remind you that Aging Insights is brought to you by sponsorships and donations. If you are able to donate, please visit our website or mail your gift to NJFA 145 W. Hanover St. Trenton, NJ 08618.
Today we bring you a blog post from guest blogger and NJFA friend Charles Clarkson, Project Director of the Senior Medicare Patrol of New Jersey.
By Charles Clarkson, Project Director, Senior Medicare Patrol of NJ
Medicare fraud is estimated to cost American taxpayers $60 billion a year, monies that are siphoned off and are not available for legitimate Medicare services. At the Senior Medicare Patrol of NJ (SMP), which is a federally funded program, we want to educate Medicare beneficiaries so they do not become victims of Medicare fraud. There are steps Medicare beneficiaries can take to fight this fraud. The most important step is to protect your Medicare number. Even though Medicare issued new Medicare cards to all beneficiaries with randomly generated numbers and letters and removed the social security number from the cards, the Medicare number (now known as the Medicare Beneficiary Identifier) is still very valuable to fraudsters who can use it to bill Medicare. Beneficiaries should not give out their Medicare numbers to anyone they don’t trust. This is especially true for the many beneficiaries who receive robo calls on a constant basis. The rule of thumb is to never pick up the phone if you do not recognize the telephone number on your message machine. Let the message machine screen all of your calls and then you can decide to return the call or not. Most beneficiaries will find that no message is left and they can then ignore the call.
The next step is to always read your Medicare Summary Notice (MSN), the document a beneficiary receives from Medicare usually 3 months after seeing a Medicare provider. It is important for beneficiaries to review their MSN, not just because of fraud but because mistakes can also happen.
Step three is to keep a personal health care journal or calendar. Record every time you see a medical provider, take a test or have other services provided. When you get your MSN compare it with your journal or calendar. Make sure you are not being scammed. If you are not sure something is fraud or you have a question about the billing, call your provider and ask for an explanation.
Step four is to report any suspected fraud or error. This step is vitally important. Failure to report will translate into the provider getting away with any fraud or errors. Remember, this is your money. You pay Medicare premiums, co-pays, co-insurance, deductibles and other charges. If you need assistance in fighting Medicare fraud, as you were unable to resolve it yourself, call the SMP. Our telephone number is 732-777-1940 and our hot-line number if 877-SMP-4359. A beneficiary can also use our web-site to report a fraud on the form provided. Visit seniormedicarepatrolnj.org
Even if you are not sure if it is fraud but need questions answered, call us. We are a free service and we are here to help. Every beneficiary should feel empowered to help fight Medicare fraud. At the SMP we want to keep Medicare as a viable program that is there for every beneficiary.
As April rolls around we prepare for one of the few certainties in life: Taxes.
If you’ve already filed your annual income taxes, congratulations! If filing your taxes is still on your “to-do” list, we have some suggested resources to assist you in preparing and filing your taxes. (Please note that we’re not certified or trained tax professionals; if you have questions about your taxes or finances it’s always best to consult an expert.)
Whether or not you’re an older adult, New Jersey has many resources available to you for tax preparation assistance. To see if your town offers local tax preparation services, call your town’s municipal center, public library (if one is available in your town), or your county Office on Aging (if you don’t know the phone number for your county’s office, you can call the toll-free number 1-877-222-3737 and you will be directed to your local office). For those who prefer to file their taxes on paper (as opposed to digitally), tax forms are also often available at municipal buildings and libraries. If you prefer, you can also download and print tax forms at home through the first link below.
…Did you know that there are FREE tax preparation services available to you? If you’re a taxpayer and over age 60, you’re eligible for (the unfortunately named) Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE). If you’re not age 60 or older, but are low- to moderate-income, have a disability, or are non-English speaking, you can get tax preparation assistance though Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA). You can follow the link below to learn a little more about these services and how to find one near you.
…As you might know, there have been several changes in the past few years which have affected your annual income taxes. Depending on your individual situation, you may have been greatly affected or not at all; although there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer, the link below will provide you with some information regarding changes to your NJ state income tax filings.
…If you have some general questions about your taxes or filing, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has an FAQ section specifically for older adults and retirees. In addition, the IRS also has a guide of tips for older adults and retirees in preparing and filing their federal taxes. These may not answer more complex or idiosyncratic questions but can be a good place to start for general questions and help.
…If you still need help with your federal taxes, you can find ways to contact the IRS online and via phone through the link below, as well as helpful information, such as contacting the IRS on behalf of someone else and what information and identification you should have ready. You can also call the NJ Division of Taxation through the second link below.
…And, of course, you always need to be careful about tax collection scams. Just like we warned in our series on technology and scams, tax time is commonly used by scammers who claim to work with the IRS or other agencies. For more information on this and other tax collection scams you should watch out form, follow this link.
Tax season is at its height and the deadline to file your taxes on April 15th, 2019, is rapidly approaching. Don’t be late on your taxes!—Use the resources above to make sure you file your taxes correctly and on time. If you have questions about your taxes make sure to consult a tax expert or call the IRS or NJ Division of Taxation to seek help with your taxes and filing.
Mason Crane-Bolton is Communications Manager for the New Jersey Foundation for Aging. His writing has appeared in Epiphany, UU World, To Wake/To Rise,and others.
As November rolls along we continue to celebrate National Caregivers Month. With Thanksgiving only a week away, we know many people are preparing for gatherings of friends and family (both biological and ‚Äúfound‚Äù). We hope the holiday will be an enjoyable celebration filled with love and community, but we also recognize that the day will be difficult for many, not the least of whom are our caregivers.¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬†
Thanksgiving is often a time of gathering and telling stories as we give our thanks for the good things in our lives. In honor of this tradition and our caregivers we‚Äôd like to share the stories of some New Jersey caregivers. Thank you caregivers for all you do.
Some of our caregivers talked about their gratitude for being able to return the care that had been given to them over the years‚Ä¶ ¬†
‚ÄúIn my mom‚Äôs last years, she was living alone in her apartment at Seabrook Village. Her skin had become very thin, and she was prone to injuries that became much more major than for a younger person. On several occasions she injured a leg, producing large areas where her skin was largely rubbed away, in one case requiring a skin graft.¬† In addition to helping her with hospital and doctor visits, I came over to her home daily during one period to help clean wounds and change the dressing. As the geographically closest one of my siblings these duties fell to me, and I regarded it as an honor to be able to give back to someone who had given me so much.‚Äù‚ÄìTinton Falls
One caregiver wrote about the bonding moments that occur during caregiving‚Ä¶
‚ÄúTwo weeks ago, one of my Mom’s high school friends passed away. Mom wanted to go to the viewing and pay her respects. Since Mom had her shoulder surgery, she can only drive short distances, but this ride was going to take the better part of the day, so her driving wasn’t possible. Instead, I picked Mom up at the retirement complex where she and Dad live. We then drove back to New Jersey and up Route 1 to the Funeral Home. Mom is an accomplished map reader so she was an able co-pilot for this part of the trip.
This was a very difficult day for Mom emotionally. Marge was her last living high school buddy. During our ride, we talked about Mom’s memories of high school, Marge’s family, and Marge’s visits to my Grandparents’ home. When we got to the funeral home, we were greeted by Marge’s daughter, Nancy and son, John. It was comforting to meet and speak to them about their mother. Mom got the chance to bid farewell to her friend and we spent some time looking over the many photos of Marge and her family. It was helpful for Mom to see all these pictures, because she hadn’t seen Marge in many years‚Äîthey simply spoke on the phone. The ride home was peaceful. We talked about how welcome Nancy and John made us feel and what a lovely family Marge had.
Mostly, this was an unexpected day for bonding with Mom. Marge was from our hometown. The funeral home has seen our family on numerous occasions for the mourning of relatives and friends who have passed away. As stressful and annoying as the driving was that day, I know how much it meant to my Mom and I wanted to do it for her.‚Äù‚ÄìLawrenceville
Some caregivers told us about the challenges of watching parents grow older and increasing caregiving duties‚Ä¶
‚ÄúNearly every Thursday for the past several years I have been visiting my Mom and Dad in Pennsylvania. Dad just turned 90. Mom will be 88 in a few days. Eighteen months ago, Dad was diagnosed with bladder cancer. His treatment lasted for 6 weeks and I accompanied him for each office visit and the follow-up appointments with the doctor. Thankfully, the treatments were successful and Dad is cancer-free. Mom had shoulder replacement 12 months ago. I stayed with Mom and Dad after the surgery for a short while to ensure that Mom was able to get around on her own. As with Dad, I went to follow-up visits with Mom and she has recovered most of the use of her left arm. Often times, I take my Mom (and sometimes Dad) shopping and we run errands in the neighborhood. What has become more difficult, is watching how each of them is declining in what they can or can’t do and what they remember or don’t recall.‚Äù‚ÄìLawrenceville
Others talked about watching their own parents become caregivers for each other, both the trials and the lessons learned‚Ä¶
‚ÄúI am in awe watching my almost-92 year old mother caring for my Alzheimer’s stricken father. It is not only about the patience, compassion and love she extends him, but even about the occasional short-temper and impatience. She extends herself about as far as she can and forgives herself, mostly, when she comes up short of her goals.
And she not only takes care of him, but to the extent she can of herself: she has arranged for volunteers and paid aides and relatives to help her and gets herself out, whether it’s to attend meetings or just get errands done, in order to maintain her mental and emotional equilibrium. I do think that extending his care to others is not only a necessity for her, but even a boon and blessing to them in the sense of affirming our humanity‚Äîthat we are all in this together and that extending care and caring to others is a fundamental way of sharing that.
I know their current situation of my mom providing continued care in their home cannot last much longer, and has only been possible thus far because another daughter lives with them. And her children are all concerned about the effects of months of sleep deprivation and the curtailing of her activities (as well as watching your partner of 70+ years deteriorate in this horrible way), but she has managed so far with fortitude, help, a fair amount of grace, and a great deal of love.‚Äù‚ÄìCentral New Jersey, with parents in California
Ultimately, caregiving is one of the most selfless and loving acts a human being can perform for another. It is a life-changing experience, and it can be rewarding, painful, hopeful, and challenging. According to Pew Research Center, approximately 25% of Americans aged 45-64, and 17% of 65+ aged adults, are caring for an older adult. Whether you are a caregiver or anticipate becoming one in the future, caregiving dramatically affects the lives of everyone involved. As our nation and state continue to experience the ‚ÄúGraying of America,‚Äù we can expect the numbers of caregivers to rise alongside those who need care. So we recognize and thank you, caregivers, for all you‚Äôve done and all you continue to do. Happy National Caregivers Month to you, and thank you to our caregivers who were so willing to share their stories with us.
As a culture we tend to praise accomplishments as if there were an age limit. We like to focus on achievements made by people under a ‚Äúcertain age‚Äù as if we think ‚ÄúThe younger, the better!‚Äù But achievements, major accomplishments, even fame and fortune, don‚Äôt have a cut-off age.
There‚Äôs nothing wrong with celebrating accomplishments and great deeds done by a specific age, but we‚Äôd like to take time here to point out that major accomplishments are achieved regardless of age. Below is just a sampling of some of the amazing things done by older adults of all ages, arranged alphabetically and in no order of greatness.
Author Harry Bernstein publishes his first book, The Invisible Wall: A Love Story that Broke Barriers‚Äîage 96
Julia Child begins the long running The French Chef program on PBS‚Äîage 51
Jack Cover invents the Taser stun gun to create a nonlethal weapon‚Äîage 50
Benjamin Franklin signs the Declaration of Independence‚Äîage 70
Cancer survivor Barbara Hillary becomes one of the oldest people, and first black woman, to reach the North Pole‚Äîage 75
Edmond Hoyle begins recording the rules of various card games, publishing A Short Treatise on the Game of Whist in 1742‚Äîage 70
Kathryn Joosten, Emmy Award-winning actress of Family Matters, Desperate Housewives, and The West Wing, begins TV-acting‚Äîage 56
Mark Jordan sets the World Record in 2015 for most pull-ups in 24 hours‚Äîage 54
Ray Kroc begins the McDonald‚Äôs franchise‚Äîage 52
Nelson Mandela is elected president of South Africa‚Äîage 75
Famed American Folk painter Anna Mary Robertson Moses, aka ‚ÄúGrandma Moses,‚Äù begins painting‚Äîage 76
Frank McCourt publishes Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award-winning Angela‚Äôs Ashes‚Äîage 65
Taikichiro Mori leaves academia for second career in Tokyo real estate, where he would eventually become the most successful person in the Tokyo real estate market and twice become Forbes‚Äôs ‚Äúworld‚Äôs richest man‚Äù‚Äîage 55
Leslie Nielsen stars in comedy-hit Airplane!‚Äîage 54
Nola Ochs graduates from Fort Hays State University and becomes the oldest person in the world to become a college graduate‚Äîage 95
James Parkinson identifies what will later be named ‚ÄúParkinson‚Äôs disease‚Äù‚Äîage 62
John Pemberton invents Coca-Cola‚Äîage 55
Diana Nyad becomes the first confirmed person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage‚Äîage 64
Peter Mark Roget publishes first edition of Roget‚Äôs Thesaurus (originally titled, Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases Classified and Arranged so as to Facilitate the Expression of Ideas and Assist in Literary Composition)‚Äîage 73
Minoru Saito becomes the oldest person to do a solo circumnavigation of the globe without stopping at any port‚Äîage 77
Colonel Harland David Sanders begins the KFC franchise‚Äîage 65
Judge Judy Scheindlin begins the now longest-running courtroom TV show, Judy Judy‚Äîage 53
J.R.R. Tolkien publishes The Fellowship of the Ring, the first volume of the Lord of the Rings trilogy‚Äîage 62
Betty White becomes the first woman to win a Daytime Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Game Show Host‚Äîage 61
Laura Ingalls Wilder publishes Little House in the Big Woods, the first of the Little House books‚Äîage 64
Whose major achievement are you fascinated by? What are your own accomplishments? Leave us a comment below or send us an email if you’d like us to share them! Whether it‚Äôs breaking a record, fulfilling a lifelong dream, standing out in your industry, or just doing something you‚Äôre proud of, every day is an opportunity for your own achievement‚ÄîNo matter your age!
This week’s guest blog is provided by Charles Clarkson, Esq. This article, originally posted in issue #21 of the New Jersey Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) newsletter¬†Advocate, will cover Medicare Open Enrollment, your options, and information about Medicare scams.
By Charles Clarkson, Esq.
Jewish Family Services of Middlesex County
Project Director, Senior Medicare Patrol of New Jersey
Every year between October 15 and December 7, a period known as ‚ÄúOpen Enrollment,‚Äù Medicare beneficiaries can make changes in their Medicare coverage. The Senior Medicare Patrol of New Jersey (SMP), a Federally funded program of the U.S. Administration for Community Living, believes that if you know your options you can avoid being scammed and make the right choices, giving you the best coverage at the least cost.
Why make a change?¬† Whether you have Original Medicare (Part A and/or B), Part D (prescription drug plan), or a Part C (Medicare Advantage Plan,) your plan can change. Premiums, deductibles¬† and coverages can all change.¬† Even if they remain the same, your health or finances may have changed. SMP encourages all beneficiaries to re-visit their coverage and decide whether or not to change during Open Enrollment.
Beneficiaries have these choices:
If you are enrolled in Original Medicare, you can change to a Medicare Advantage plan with or without drug coverage. These plans are private companies approved by Medicare and give you the services of Original Medicare. If you join a Medicare Advantage plan, you do not need (and are not permitted) to have a Medicare supplement insurance plan (also known as a Medigap policy) and if your Medicare Advantage plan has drug coverage, you will not need a Part D plan.
If you are in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can switch to another Medicare Advantage plan or drop your Medicare Advantage Plan. If you decide to drop a plan and not switch to another plan, you will be enrolled in Original Medicare. You should then consider enrolling in a Medicare supplement insurance plan to cover the costs that Original Medicare does not pay for and enroll in a Part D plan for drug coverage.
If you are in Original Medicare with a Part D plan, you can stay in Original Medicare and switch your Part D plan. Medicare has a Plan Finder on Medicare.gov which allows beneficiaries to compare plans for next year. The new Part D plans should be announced in late September or early October.
If you are in Original Medicare and do not have a Part D plan, you can enroll in a Part D plan. If you join a Part D plan because you did not do so when you were first eligible for Part D and you did not have other coverage that was, on average, at least as good as standard Medicare drug coverage (known as creditable coverage), your premium cost will be penalized 1% for every month that you did not enroll in Part D. You will have to pay this penalty for as long as you have a drug plan. The penalty is based on the national average of monthly premiums multiplied by the number of months you are without coverage and this amount can increase every year. If you qualify for extra help (low income subsidy), you won‚Äôt be charged a penalty.
Why change Part D plans?
Beneficiaries may want to change Part D prescription drug plans (PDPs) for a number of reasons: (i) the PDP has notified the beneficiary that it plans to drop one or more of their drugs from their formulary (list of available medications); (ii) the beneficiary is reaching the coverage gap (donut hole) sooner than anticipated and may want to purchase a PDP with coverage through the coverage gap, if one is available; (iii) the PDP has notified the beneficiary that it will no longer participate in the Medicare Part D program; (iv) the PDP will increase its premium or co-pays higher than the beneficiary wants to pay and a less expensive plan may be available and (v) a beneficiary is not happy with the PDP‚Äôs quality of service or the plan has received low rankings for a number of years. For 2019 beneficiaries in New Jersey can expect to choose from a number of PDPs.
Compare plans each year.
Beneficiaries should remember that PDPs change every year and it is recommended that beneficiaries compare plans to insure that they are in the plan that best suits their needs. When comparing plans, keep in mind to look at the ‚Äúestimated annual drug costs,‚Äù i.e. what it will cost you out of pocket for the entire year, from January 1 through December 31 of each year. Plans can be compared at the Medicare web site:¬† www.medicare.gov. If you do not have access to a computer, call Medicare at 1-800-Medicare to assist in researching and enrolling in a new plan. Medicare can enroll a beneficiary over the telephone.¬† When you call, make sure you have a list of all your medications, including dosages. Another resource for Medicare beneficiaries is the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (known as SHIP), telephone 1-800-792-8820. SHIP is federally funded and can provide beneficiaries with unbiased advice.¬† Call SHIP to make an appointment with a counselor. You do not need to use a broker or agent who may not be looking out for your best interest. Brokers and agents are usually being paid to enroll you in certain plans. Beneficiaries can also call the Senior Medicare Patrol of New Jersey at 732-777-1940.
Medicare Open Enrollment can also be a time of fraudulent schemes that can cost you money. The SMP wants you to be on the alert for scams. A word of advice:
When you realize that a scammer is calling. Just hang up. Do not be polite and just hang up. Also, let your answering machine do all the work. Never answer any call unless you recognize the number. If no message is left, you know the call is probably a scam or an unwanted solicitation. For any questions about Medicare and to report any Medicare scams, call the Senior Medicare Patrol of New Jersey at 732-777-1940.
Did you know September is Go4Life month? Go4Life month is, ‚Äúan exercise and physical activity campaign from the National Institute on Aging at NIH‚Ä¶designed to help you fit exercise and physical activity into your daily life.‚Äù Inspired by Go4Life month, we‚Äôd like to share with you some of our tips for getting into (and sticking with) a regular exercise and physical activity regimen. Below are 4 common reasons people often don‚Äôt get enough physical activity, and how you can combat them. As always, you should consult a doctor before engaging in a new exercise program, especially if you have any health concerns or medical conditions.
1. Always Feeling Too Busy
Do you always feel like you have too much going on? Like you don‚Äôt have time to be physically active? Instead of trying to fit in longer exercise and physical activity periods, try working in smaller periods of activity or working physical activity into your already scheduled activities.
Exercising as little as 10-minutes at a time has real health benefits. Try to set aside a few 10-minute intervals throughout the day to exercise. To get the maximum benefits for your body, try varying your exercises throughout the day. For instance, take a brisk walk in the morning and then do some body weight strength training in the afternoon. In the evening you could do some balancing exercises and a few good stretches for flexibility before bedtime. If you still find yourself unable to squeeze in dedicated exercise time work with the time you do have. If you have only a few minutes, use that time to exercise.
In addition to exercise, recent studies show we also need to be more physically active throughout the day. Being inactive for lengthy periods risk the potential to undo many of exercise‚Äôs benefits and can contribute to heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, increased risk of falls, and feelings of depression and anxiety. There are many ways to get more physical activity into your daily life without disrupting your regular activities. Here are some to try:
‚Ä¢ Take the stairs instead of the escalator or take the escalator instead of the elevator and try to walk at least a few steps if you‚Äôre able to do so safely.
‚Ä¢ Clean your house
‚Ä¢ Set yourself an alarm to get up and move for at least 3 minutes every 30 minutes, or at least 5 minutes every hour.
‚Ä¢ Walk or bike ride to your errands or to work when possible.
‚Ä¢ Have walking meetings and walking lunches at work.
‚Ä¢ When meeting with friends and family, center things around some kind of physical activity, you‚Äôll be a great amount of physical activity while you create wonderful memories.
‚Ä¢ If you need to spend long periods of time sitting consider investing in a foot/hand elliptical machine that will keep you physically engaged while you sit
Whether it‚Äôs lack of interest or physical limits getting in the way, it‚Äôs not always easy to be motivated to exercise or be more active. There are, however, several ways you can work around this and increase your motivation and your physical activity.
Do What You Find Fun
Not into running? Try recreational swimming. Tennis doesn‚Äôt interest you? Sign up for some dancing lessons. You love team sports? Why not look into local baseball, basketball, and bowling leagues?
If you haven‚Äôt found an activity or exercise yet that really engages you, don‚Äôt give up! Keep trying new activities until you find the one that fits your needs and desires. Maybe your local park or community college has a tai chi or yoga class, you could start a neighborhood team sports or running league, and the internet is a great place to search for local groups looking to meetup for a variety of activities for all ages and abilities. And while you‚Äôre trying new things and finding the right activity for you you‚Äôll be doing yourself a double-service‚Äîlearning and trying new things keeps your body and brain active!
Use the Buddy System
Exercising alone can be hard. That‚Äôs where having an exercise friend(s) can come in handy! There are a variety of ways to make sure you have the social motivation to exercise‚Äîyou can have a regular meeting with a friend to exercise together, you can join a local league or group of exercisers, or you can sign up for a fitness class that gives you a standing commitment each week.
If you prefer to exercise alone, but still need the motivation of a friend, that‚Äôs no problem! Having an exercise partner to motivate you can be as simple as checking in with each other on a regular basis to make sure you‚Äôre meeting your exercise and activity goals. The best part about the ‚Äúbuddy system‚Äù is it not only motivates you, it motivates both of you.
Set a Reminder
For many people, getting into an exercise and activity routine is as simple as scheduling it. Download a fitness tracker on your phone or print an exercise calendar from online (you‚Äôll find hundreds for free if you search ‚Äúexercise calendar‚Äù or ‚Äúfitness calendar‚Äù). Decide what activities or exercise you‚Äôll do on which days and log them. Finally, set yourself reminders or put your calendar in a place where you‚Äôll see it often. You‚Äôll be surprised at how much more active you become!
It‚Äôs always important to be safe when being active. Whether you‚Äôre in perfect health, recovering from a setback, or dealing with a chronic condition, it‚Äôs crucial to be safe while still being active. Here are a few tips to keep you safe while you stay active:
Don‚Äôt Push Too Hard, Too Fast
If you‚Äôre new to exercise or if you‚Äôre coming back to an exercise regimen after a break, take it slow and be careful. Working out too vigorously can cause injury and further derail your fitness plans.
Listen to Your Body
Exercise is about finding the appropriate level of activity for your body, not pushing yourself to an extreme. Speak with a medical profession to talk about what activities are appropriate for you. Track improvements in your health and fitness and use those to judge whether or not your exercise and physical activity is too much. And if you‚Äôre experiencing pain due to your exercise routine stop and seek advice from a health professional.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings¬†
Whether you‚Äôre inside or outside, make sure you pay attention to your surroundings as you‚Äôre staying active. Check the weather before you go outside and pay attention to changes in weather, insect activity, and pollen levels.
If you‚Äôll be going outside, know the route you plan to take and how long you‚Äôll be gone. If you‚Äôre going alone tell someone else your plans (or carry a cell phone) so they can be alerted if you need to call for help. And if the weather is cold make sure to wear layers‚Äîsweat cools off a body rapidly and can chill you after your body cools down from exercising. Watch out for cracks in pavement, fallen branches, or holes that could trip you or cause you to lose your footing. If you‚Äôre exercising indoors make sure you clear enough space for the activity you‚Äôll be doing. Clean small objects off the floor you may trip over, and don‚Äôt exercise near furniture.
Money is a common concern and many people don‚Äôt have the money (or desire) to buy exercise equipment. They can‚Äôt afford monthly gym passes and may think they ‚Äúcan‚Äôt afford‚Äù to exercise. In reality, though, anyone can exercise, regardless of income! You may not be able to sign up for a membership at a fancy new gym, but there are ways to exercise and be active within any budget, including these:
Use Your Body
The freest and most available exercise equipment is your own body. You can take a walk or a run, practice yoga or tai chi, or strength train using your own body weight (think push-ups, squats, etc.). Of course, if you have equipment already, like a bicycle, go for a bike ride, or engage in other sports. If going outside isn‚Äôt a good option, walk around your house or engage in an activity like mall walking.
Cheaper Alternatives to Fancy Equipment
Another alternative is to look for cheaper equipment. Jumping rope is a very effective workout for your whole body, and jump ropes can be purchased for only a few dollars. You can also look at local used sporting goods stores and thrift stores or the web for used exercise equipment. You can even make your own weights out of soup cans and water bottles!
Less Expensive Ways to Learn
Check your local offices on aging, senior centers, and libraries to see what, if any, fitness programs they may provide and if any are available for free. If you have health insurance or Medicare check with your provider to see if you‚Äôre eligible for any free or reduced-cost gym memberships, fitness programs, or other health initiatives.
Other low-cost ways to learn an exercise are buying a fitness DVD or book, or checking one out from your local library. You can also look at websites like YouTube, which carries hundreds of fitness and exercise videos in a wide range of activities for people of all abilities, for free.
Increasing your physical activity and exercise isn‚Äôt always easy. There can be obstacles or setbacks, but the he benefits of physical activity and exercise are numerous: increased fitness and well-being, relief and improvement of many chronic conditions, improved mental health, social engagement, and beyond! Thank you for reading, now take a break from all this reading and get moving!
To find your local Area Office on Aging, call the toll-free number at: 1-877-222-3737