Baltimore County Now
Lynn McCamie, Baltimore County Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Manager
Choosing a nursing home or assisting living facility for our parents can be a daunting task. The Department of Aging Long-Term Care Ombudsman office offers the following tips:
· Tour several facilities, visiting each one twice. First, schedule a formal tour; then make an unannounced visit at a different day and time. If possible, visit during evening and/or weekend hours.
· Observe the entire facility carefully, using your senses – sight, sound, touch and smell.
· Keep a notebook of your observations and contact people.
· Review the state survey reports. These are inspection reports made by the Office of Health Care Quality, the State licensing agency. Facilities are required to post or have available the most recent survey report. If you do not see the survey, ask someone to get it for you. Note any deficiencies found in the long-term care facility and what they may mean for you or your loved one.
· Use the Internet to compare facilities. Medicare’s website offers a comparison for nursing homes throughout the United States at www.medicare.gov/NHCompare. To compare assisted living facilities in Maryland, visit http://mhcc.maryland.gov/consumerinfo/longtermcare/assistedliving.aspx /.
· If possible, eat a meal prepared by the facility. Notice the appearance and presentation of the food. Does the food smell good and taste satisfying? Are alternatives offered? Meals for special diets? Is a current menu posted throughout the facility? Observe the dining room. Are most of the residents eating there, rather than in their rooms? Are residents who need assistance with eating receiving that help?
· Read the activities calendar, which should be posted throughout the facility. Do the activities listed actually occur? Do the scheduled activities seem appropriate and varied? Do the residents seem to be enjoying the activities?
· Inquire whether there is a special unit or wing for dementia or Alzheimer’s residents. If so, tour the unit. Notice what safety precautions and activities are in place.
· Contact your local Ombudsman’s office for more details or questions call 410-887-2880 or email Ombudsman@baltimorecountymd.gov.
Michelle Marseilles Bruns
Manager, Caregiver Program
Baltimore County Department of Aging
No doubt you know a family caregiver because there are thousands of them across our region. They are the sons, daughters-in-law, spouses, adult grandchildren, neighbors and close friends who are providing care and support to seniors in our community. They do this out of a concern for the safety and well-being of their loved one. It is a labor of love.
November is National Family Caregivers Month. It is a designated time each year to recognize the countless hours that families provide, without financial compensation, to keep seniors at home as independently as possible. In recognition of this occasion, why not give the gift of your time to offer to the family caregiver so they may take a short break from their caregiving tasks. Offer to visit with their loved one, while they go out for some “time off.”
Currently, the Maryland Caregiver Support Coordinating Council has posted a Family Needs Survey that will be posted online through December 31. In order to get an accurate portrait of current caregiving needs statewide, caregivers can take the survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/dhrcaregiver to answer questions about the care provided to loved ones, how caregiving has impacted their life and various needs as a family caregiver.
Caring for a loved one can be stressful, but there are resources to help. Contact Maryland Access Point (MAP) of Baltimore County at 410-887-2594 for information and assistance related to older adults and persons with disabilities.
Sherry Kolbe, Manager
State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), Baltimore County Department of Aging
Is your Medicare Part D plan the best fit for you in 2015? Each year, Part D plans are permitted to change. These changes may involve the drug formularies, tier structures, premiums and/or contracts with pharmacies.
Granted, the plans sent Notification of Change letters at the end of September for 2015, but how many of us actually read them? Even if you read them, you are not able to compare your plan with others unless you go onto the Medicare Plan Finder on www.Medicare.gov.
Too overwhelming? Help is here in Baltimore County
If all of these steps seem a bit overwhelming for you or a loved one, there is help for you through Baltimore County’s State Health Insurance Assistance Program’s (SHIP) team of volunteers. Dates have been set for the SHIP team to go to twelve of the twenty senior centers. Just call SHIP, 410-887-2059, to schedule an appointment to have a one-on-one conversation with a volunteer counselor. Once a member of the team enters your drugs into the Medicare Plan Finder, you will be able to review your options to either enroll in a new plan or stay in your current plan. You will be able to leave this meeting with a sense of satisfaction knowing you are in the best plan for your current drug list for 2015.
Do you qualify for financial assistance?
Counselors will also assess if you eligible for financial assistance to help pay for your Part D premium and or drug co-pays. Too many Medicare beneficiaries are eligible for assistance and may never have heard of the programs or think they are over-scale. Let the SHIP team share with you the details of programs that may help to save you money