Health Insurance for seniors

Health insurance for seniors may be difficult to get above and beyond the standard Medicaid or Medicare coverage.  Medicare is the federal health insurance program that covers most people aged 65 and older while Medicaid is the federal insurance program used to cover those who are disabled no matter what their age.

There are some people who are younger than age 65 and who are disabled or who have end-stage renal disease who are also eligible for coverage under Medicare.  However, as with all other health insurance policies, Medicare does not cover everything.  Therefore many seniors look for other health insurance coverages that may cover the services which Medicare does not.

Medicare covers most acute medical conditions or conditions that the patient will recover from, but does not cover most care that is given at home, in assisted living facilities or in nursing homes.  That gap may be covered by Medicaid.

Medicare benefits are provided in four different parts called parts A, B, C and D. Medicare part A is premium free for most people and will help to pay for inpatient hospital care as well as some skilled nursing facilities and hospice.  Most people do pay a monthly premium for part B which is the part that helps to pay for doctors, outpatient hospital care and other therapies such as physical and occupational therapy.

Medicare part C allows for a variety of HMOs and PPOs to insure individuals with Medicare beneficiaries.  By federal law they must provide the same benefits that the original Medicare plan provides but are allowed to offer additional benefits such as dental and vision care.  To control costs these plans are allowed to limit a patient's choice of practitioners to those who are specifically in network.  In that respect Medicare part C operates much the same as an HMO does.

Medicare part D provides prescription drug benefits through private insurance companies and people must pay an extra premium each month which can vary from state to state and company to company.

Although Medicare does provide for different parts of their insurance coverage, to attempt to cover the majority of individuals and their needs there continues to be a gap in what is covered and what needs to be covered for our aging population.  This gap is usually covered by something called supplemental Medicare insurance which is offered by a private company.  There are 12 standardize plans that are defined by federal law but not all states offer all 12 plans.

As if this isn't confusing enough, Medicare also offers more than 40 booklets to help people understand the program and answer their questions.

One way to help you choose a supplemental insurance plan is to pick it up at the age of retirement.  As you grow older the price will increase incrementally each year but it will grow to a lesser degree if you have been a customer of the company since the day after your retirement. 

All of these supplemental plans should work in addition to your current benefits with Medicare or your primary care company, and not as the primary source of your health insurance coverage.  At some time seniors must see specialists for particular health problems, and while Medicare does not cover those necessities, many of the supplemental health insurance policies will.

Many of the supplemental health insurance policies cover anywhere from 50 percent to 80 percent of the balance remaining after a Medicare has paid their part.  There are many variables with the different Medicare plans and it's very hard sometimes to determine which option is best for the individual to use.  Sometimes, it can seem that supplemental insurance policies are not worth the extra money so the differences between a policy that costs $100 per month must be weighed against the cost of prescription and physician benefits in order to determine whether or not the supplemental plan fits the needs of the senior.

By: Victoria Care Home 

Recent research into elder care

The elderly population continues to grow each year.  Current estimates place the percentage of individuals over the age of 65 at around 18 percent of the population.  By the year 2020 that number is expected to rise to close to 25 percent.  Research into elder care continues to be a strong factor in designing and developing treatment protocols and recommendations for individuals over the age of 65.

The International Network for Research on Elder Care was founded in 1998 and made up of a group of social and behavioral science researchers from several different countries whose interests lie in developing programs which would better suit individuals in their senior years.  This group studies patterns and trends in diseases, functioning and disabilities that changed the needs in personal care for individuals who are elderly.  They also evaluate patterns of exchange and communication between generations and include the care received by older persons who are unable to live independently and the impact this has on public policy. (1)

This organization was founded in response to feelings among members that their countries had common demographic patterns and that comparing their research would be fruitful for each country.  Their goals are to formulate research questions, carry out projects, collaborate on comparative research, and produce findings that will be useful to policy analyst and providers of elder care services.

Great Britain has an individual Research Institute for the Care of Older People (RICE) whose aim is to combine research with care so that outcomes of the studies can have practical benefits to elderly people. (2)

Recent research has included studies on individuals with memory problems looking for therapeutic treatment protocols which may or may not involve drug treatments.  Trials involving the safety and effectiveness of new medications as well as integrating drugs already being used to treat other illnesses, such as Alzheimer's disease, are currently underway.

Some benefits to participating in studies for the elderly are that study participants receive regular checkups. Participation in studies also offer an opportunity for both patient and caregivers to talk with staff to help understand problems that are associated with the particular problems and offering opportunities to meet other people who have similar concerns.

Making decisions about elder care is one of the toughest jobs that face an extended family.  Families are faced with new services, industry-specific jargon and a number of alternatives that appear to be similar but may have differences which will significantly impacts the care your family member receives.  After factoring in family dynamics and other emotional issues many family members who are the decision-maker can become paralyzed and unable to move forward.

Currently studies are ongoing looking at the difference in nutritional needs for the elderly, sleep requirement for the elderly and how metabolic changes will impact side effects of medications or medication interactions of drugs which are commonly prescribed for illnesses and diseases that seniors face.  Other research studies are addressing the needs of individuals from space dementia or similar conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, the impact of bone loss and medications which may reverse the in the elderly and digestive changes which will impact the absorption of nutrients from the gut.

By: Victoria Care Home 

Victoria's Care Home 

    559-960-3789      559-419-5000

​     Fresno – California  

From the Blog

Emergency care for seniors

Emergency care for seniors is often inadequate because medical staff are not well educated and trained in dealing with this age group.  Due to their multiple health problems, this knowledge is important to have.  It is also thought that because of their increased age it is not quite as important as caring for someone younger.  

Studies have shown though that most elderly people that do require acute care return to their lives, upon recovery they are just as productive as before they fell ill.  Yet this age group, generally 65 and older, is less likely to be taken to a trauma center to get much needed emergency care.  

Some emergency care centers are taking action to change this, however.  In addition to physical renovations and improvements in the facilities themselves, some emergency care centers are also purchasing additional medical equipment, supplies, and making use of packets that contain pertinent health histories for this specialized age group.  This packet would include present medical history with all diagnoses listed, past surgeries, past medical conditions or procedures, and a detailed list of medications that they are taking at the present time.  
Encouraging senior patients to carry this information makes good sense considering that when an individual needs emergency care they are not often able to cite exactly what is wrong with them or the past and present medical information.  This capability of non-verbalization is related to many factors such as stress, pain, anxiety, or even being unconscious.  

In addition manufacturers are now producing specialized equipment to aid seniors in case of an emergency in their home.  All one has to do now is press a button and a medical personnel employee is alerted to your home.  This medical alert response system involves wearing a pendent around your neck at all times in case an emergency should occur.  

Seniors deserve the emergency care and respect just as anyone or any age would.  The age factor bias is an insult, although most would not admit that this is a factor.  We have to take a stand for our elderly and hold them in regard as valuable human beings.  It is bad enough that costly medications are forcing many of the elderly population to go without their much needed medicines due to their decreased economic status.  Seniors must be treated with dignity and respect that they earned in a lifetime of work and caring for others.

By: Victoria Care Home 

The staff at Victoria’s Care Homes is specially trained to assist residents living with Alzheimer’s or suffering from all forms of dementia and memory loss. We’ve developed an innovative memory care philosophy to enhance the lives of all our residents by making each day meaningful, fulfilling, and endowed with familiarity and a deep sense of belonging.
Each of our residences is limited to 4 to 6 people. This enables us to provide the most individualized care, focusing on memory related activities that stimulate the brain and encourage independence and participation in daily life around the house.
The real home setting at Victoria’s Care Homes enables residents to feel relevant, stay engaged, and have assistance when they need it.
For those with loved ones who suffer from either Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia, come and visit our assisted living homes to learn more about our family-focused care homes. We are passionate about providing our residents with the highest quality of life possible in a warm and pleasant environment surrounded by people who genuinely care for their needs.

What is Dementia?

Dementia is a very loose word, as there are several different types of it.  It is not specific in description, but rather a catch-all term used as a symptom in many cases.  What we do know is that it impairs the thoughts of the brain.  This impairment affects many, if not all, aspects of life.  It affects our day-to-day living, our intellect, our behavior, and our relationships just to name a few.  

People with dementia may experience behavioral changes, become more agitated, not remember what was second nature to them, and even hallucinate.  These changes may come and go as well.  You cannot be too sure what they are thinking and need supervision at all times to avoid putting them at risk to themselves.  

A diagnosis of dementia is established by a physician.  The physician determines this diagnosis based on the symptoms of two or more malfunctioning processes of the brain.  These processes include the victim's perception, memory, reasoning, judgment, and/or language skills.  

In dementia, nerve cells just cease to function as they once did.  These nerve cells die off and cannot make the connection to the other neurons.  Classifications of dementia include cortical and subcortical dementia, primary and secondary dementia, and progressive dementia.  

One of the most common types of dementia is Alzheimer's disease.  This type of dementia is seen in persons over the age of 65.  It is not uncommon to know someone with this form of dementia as it affects approximately 4 million people in the United States alone.  In some cases, a defect in the genes produces an early onset form of the disease.  

Alzheimer's disease does not appear overnight, but rather over the course of many years.  Little by little more signs develop and Alzheimer's disease is then suspected.  We all forget occasionally or even more than that, but this does not mean it is dementia.  Dementia comes with other symptoms as noted above.  Memory loss is just one of the symptoms.  

Abnormalities in the brain depict dementia.  Inside the brain of a person with dementia you will find amyloid plaques in the tissues of the nerve cells.  You will also find neurofibrillary tangles, which are twisted filaments that are located within the neurons.  These plaques and filaments are made up of protein that interferes with the communication between its nerve cells and therefore death of the cells is inevitable.  

Treatment for dementia consists of medications.  However, there is no cure and progression can only be slowed down.  Research regarding Alzheimer's disease, as well as other types of dementia is being done all the time.  

There are ways to help yourself to attempt to avoid dementia.  By practicing good health measures, such as in diet, nutrition, fitness, and lifestyle habits, and seeing your physician for regular check-ups you can maintain optimum physical and mental health.  As well, keeping your mind sharp is important.  Make sure that you give your brain a good workout every day.  You can do this by using your writing skills, playing games, doing crossword puzzles, and reading.  By keeping yourself in good health, both physically and mentally you can be the best you possible.  

By: Victoria Care Home 

When to go to a nursing home

Moving to a nursing home or moving a loved one to a nursing home is often a heart-wrenching decision that does not come easily.  It requires much well thought out planning, a process of elimination, and a great deal of courage.  Even with that in place, it is a very difficult situation and one that leaves little choice in the matter.  

Having to go to a nursing home is either the choice of the person going into one or the choice of a family member or a close friend.  The primary reason for entering a nursing home is due to ill health.  The person entering a nursing home is either too ill to take care of himself, there is lack of insurance to continue in a hospital setting or obtain home nursing care, or a family member or close friend is unable to care for them any longer.  

In past generations and in other parts of the country it is typically the family who cares for an ill parent.  Today, due to dwindling and costly economic situations, families are forced to work outside the home for a longer length of time leaving nobody to care for their elderly family members.   

Other reasons to enter a nursing home are the possibility of the risk of injuries without anyone available to supervise the elderly's care.  Many of our elderly are lonely and therefore do not care to be alone without anyone around.  Some of our elderly have adult children, but they live out of town and therefore not available.  Many also do not drive anymore or their friends have either passed on or have moved into nursing homes themselves leaving all alone.  

A person entering a nursing home is at a great risk for depression.  They are being required to leave their homes that they may have lived in for most of their lives, but also many of their possessions, as there is not enough room in a nursing home to take them.  Another factor in the development of depression as an elderly person enters a nursing home is their loss of independence.  They are no longer able to maintain their same routine and must rely on others for assistance with their daily care.  

They must also abide somewhat to a change in their schedule, as they have known it.  Mealtimes are at the same time every day, activities are planned out and again according to a set schedule based on the nursing homes daily events and staffing availability.  Sometimes a person in a nursing home must agree to a different doctor, different church activities, and a different daytime/nighttime schedule.  

Many feelings are associated with the loss of having to leave one's home and enter a nursing home situation.  These feelings may be in the form of depression, anger, bitterness, sadness, and aggravation.  

Hopefully, after some time the person entering a nursing home situation will adjust and come to tears with it enjoying what is left of their life here on earth.  With the guidance, patient, and support of a loving family and a kind staff in the nursing home they can learn to be reasonably happy and regain some of the quality of life that they have had previously. 

By: Victoria Care Home 

What is Hospice care?

In the earliest days, hospice worked under a concept rooted in the idea of offering a place of shelter and rest to weary and sick travelers on a long journey.  The concept developed into an interdisciplinary approach providing comprehensive end of life care in the early 1960s in Great Britain.  It didn't make its way to the United States until the 1970s where that care was modeled to provide care in the patient's home environment and not in a designated hospice facility.

Hospice care will provide medical services, emotional support and spiritual resources for those who are in the last stages of any terminal illness.  The illness is not as important as the stage of the illness and the eminence of death.  Hospice will help family members manage some of the practical details of coping with individuals who are experiencing their last days and the emotional challenges of caring for someone who is dying.

The goal of hospice care is to keep the individual comfortable and improve quality of life they are experiencing while they are dying.  There is a large shift in philosophy in the medical care of these individuals from a focus on healing and treatments to a greater focus on an improving comfort and decreasing pain.

Some may believe that hospice services are intended to speed up or prolong the dying process but instead the focus is on relieving pain and other symptoms to make the individual more comfortable.  Caregivers are really concerned with enhancing the quality of the time remaining by keeping individuals as alert as possible and comfortable in familiar surroundings with friends and family.

To qualify for hospice care the physician must be able to document that an individual is expected to live six months or less.  It also means that individual will no longer receive treatment for their illness but rather receive palliative care. Palliative care is treatment given to relieve the symptoms but not cure the disease.  Only the individual and their family and doctor can decide when hospice care should begin.

One of the problems with hospice is that it is often not started soon enough because of resistance from patients, doctors or family members.  By beginning hospice care some feel it sends a message of no more future hope.  However, if the disease gets better or goes into remission the individual can always be taken out of the hospice program and go back into an active treatment.  The hope in the hospice is that it brings about a better quality of life making the best of each day during the last stages of an advanced illness.

Hospice is often set apart from other types of health care by not only the focus but also the way in which that focus is delivered.  In most cases an interdisciplinary team approach will manage the care which means that many disciplines work together to care for the patients.  Pain and symptom control are the goal to help individuals achieve a great deal of comfort allowing them to stay in control of their life up until the end. Hospice care also addresses the spiritual needs of the individual and their family and is set up to meet the specific religious beliefs expressed by both the individual and the family members.

Hospice care in the United States is centered in the home but at some point the individual may need to be admitted to a hospital or an extended care facility.  Hospice workers will help to arrange for inpatient care and stay involved in the treatment and with your family.  If it becomes suitable again for the individual to return home, hospice care workers will be there to help.

Hospice care is also able to help the family and caregivers receive some respite, or time away from intense caregiving.  The interdisciplinary team will regularly scheduled family conferences to keep family members and the rest of the team informed about individuals condition and what to expect next.

The hospice care team will continue to work with surviving family members through the grieving process and will often provide either a trained volunteer, clergy member or professional counselor to encourage families through visits, phone calls or by suggesting support groups.

Hospice care is a completely volunteer program and utilizes the professional knowledge of healthcare professionals or people who provide services that range from hands-on care to working in the office are doing some fundraising.  Hospice care workers will often be the link that many families require in need to provide them with the support, both physical and emotional, to get through this very painful and challenging time.

By: Victoria Care Home 

    Key features of Victoria’s Care Homes for Alzheimer’s, dementia and memory loss:

  • Licensed caregiver in residence 24/7
  • Access to Nurse Practitioners, Physicians and Podiatrists that make house calls
  • Three home-cooked meals, with snacks always available
  • Detailed knowledge of each patient’s needs and routine
  • Understanding that independence for as long as possible instills dignity
  • Specialized Alzheimer’s and memory care exercises and activities
  • Loving support with bathing, dressing and grooming
  • Medication and incontinence management programs
  • Arranged transportaion to outings and church services
  • Bathrooms equipped with safety grab bars and easy-access showers
  • Private bedrooms & bathrooms available
  • Real home setting with snacks for visitors
  • Dog visits from Pets for Life
  • And More...