I don't consider myself dumb (at least not often) but after attending an excellent workshop on Medicare I am going to have to get a lot smarter in the next four years. The workshop was presented by Oregon's Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance (SHIBA) to help explain the Medicare system. There are over 47 million people enrolled and because everyone's situation is different, Medicare can seem complicated and confusing.
There are three basic parts to Medicare. Part A covers inpatient hospital care, skilled nursing care, home health care and hospice care and there is no premium. Part B is optional with a monthly premium of 96.40 (the premium will not increase in 2009 and the deductible will remain at $135) and covers doctor's services and outpatient care, diagnostic tests, some therapies and durable medical equipment. Part D covers prescription drugs and you pay a premium depending on your insurance provider. You are eligible when you turn age 65 (you don’t have to be retired) and there is a seven month enrollment period starting three months before you turn 65.
A few things to remember. When you get close to turning 65, you will receive information about enrolling in Medicare. It is important so make sure you read it. Never buy an insurance product without investigating it first. There are many unscrupulous salepeople who see you as an easy target. (I personally never buy anything over the phone or from a door-to-door salesperson.) If you are considering buying a private insurance plan, talk to your doctor to make sure they will accept it. If you have any questions, talk to someone you trust or call Jean Hockman at the Area Agency on Aging (298-4101). Jean has been trained about the ins and outs of Medicare and if she doesn't know the answers she knows where to find them. For your convenience, Jean will be at the Senior Center every other Tuesday from 12:30 to 1:30 to answer questions.
In collaboration with Visiting Health Services, the Senior Center is expanding its Loan Closet to offer basic medical equipment including ambulatory devices such as wheelchairs, walkers, and canes and bathroom equipment such as handrails for toilets and bathtubs and commodes. Medicare pays for many types of medical equipment, but will generally not pay for most equipment used in bathrooms. And although Medicare will pay for the first ambulatory devise, they will not pay for the second. With Joyce Browne and Debbie Kelly's help, we have weeded out the old and unsafe equipment and are looking for donations of good clean used bathroom equipment as well as any wheelchairs with the foot rests. With your help the Senior Center we will be able to lend medical equipment that Medicare won’t pay for or seniors can’t afford.
The Wasco County Historical Society has an exciting tour planned for Saturday, October 4th that combines the past with the present. You are invited to visit the Young Life Wildhorse Canyon Camp, a non-denominational Christian camp for adolescents located outside Antelope. It was formerly the Big Muddy Ranch; then became Rancho Rajneesh in the 1980's. As an additional treat, Dan Durow will be your trip narrator and share his harrowing experiences with the Rajneeshees when he was the young and handsome Wasco County Planning Director. The 30 passenger bus will depart from the upper parking lot of the Wasco County/The Dalles Library at 9:00 am and return approximately 5:00 pm. The cost is $15 per person and will include lunch in the ranch's cafeteria. To register call 541-478-3429 and send a check to WCHS in care of Jan Leininger at 1550 Morgensen Road, Mosier, Oregon 97040.
We still have five seats left to see the 2:00 pm matinee performance for “Menopause: The Musical” this coming Sunday the 28th. The bus will leave the Senior Center at 11:30 and will return by 6:30 with a short stop on the way back in Cascade Locks. Find a friend and enjoy this entertaining and inspiring musical. You will soon be singing some of the old tunes but with new lyrics including "Stayin Awake" and "My Husband Sleeps Tonight".
The last hike of the year is scheduled for Monday, Sept 29th leaving the Senior Center at 9:30. It is a moderate 4-mile round trip walk following the beautiful Cold Springs Creek to powerful Tamanawis Falls. If you can walk from the Senior Center to Sorosis Park, this is the outing for you. This hike was scheduled last month but was changed when the access to the falls was closed because of a fire in the area. Join Skip and Janet one more time to see this beautiful falls upclose and personal. The Senior Center wants to thank Skip and Janet for leading these hikes and you learn more about exploring the scenic vistas in our own backyard in Skip’s regular Sunday column in The Dalles Chronicle.
Truman Boler is coming back to the Senior Center Tuesday (30th) to play for your dancing and listening pleasure. We should have another good crowd. And tonight don’t miss “The Jazz Generations”. Admission is free and all ages are welcome!
If you have retirement investments or have been watching the stock market gyrations, you may be interested in Tuesday’s (the 30th) Next Chapter Lecture presentation "How to Invest during Bad Economic Times" presented by Heather Runyon and Tara Donivan of Edward Jones. These are not financial times for the weak hearted, but hopefully we won’t revisit the economic conditions of the mid-80’s when so many people were leaving The Dalles you couldn’t find a U-Haul to rent. But when it comes to the stock market, maybe we should take Will Rogers’ advice: "Don't gamble; take all your savings and buy some good stock and hold it till it goes up, then sell it. If it don't go up, don't buy it.”
Well that is it again. Time marches on; a new season, a new chapter. Until the next time, to paraphrase Stephen Sondheim, “beauty is in that which changes”.