Helping Participants Return to AltaMed PACE Safely

August 19, 2020

As with all of our facilities, we are making great efforts to protect our AltaMed PACE participants and staff. We know PACE is an important resource for seniors with complex health needs, and their caregivers. Learn more about how we’re continuing to serve you during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

What We’re Doing

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We are following guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. These include:

⦁    Participants and staff wearing protective equipment
⦁    Cleaning and disinfecting high-contact areas
⦁    Reserving PACE day care centers for members who have acute needs or do not have a safe home alternative
⦁    Continuing to see those who need routine care for chronic conditions or urgent issues at our PACE medical sites. If you think you need medical attention, please contact your primary care provider, who may recommend either an office visit or a telehealth appointment.

 

How PACE Participants and Their Families Can Protect Their Household

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Everyone at your home should avoid seeing family and friends who do not live with you. This will help protect our PACE participants and your loved ones by reducing the possibility of bringing the coronavirus into your home. 

⦁    Wash your hands often and clean surfaces that are touched often, like door handles and faucets.
⦁    When you have to meet with people outside your household, maintain a distance of at least six feet. Meet outside or in a space with good ventilation. 
⦁    If any of your household members have been to large gatherings (which is strongly discouraged), or have been around a lot of different people, they should isolate themselves to avoid the PACE participant while inside the home. Avoid sleeping in the same room, stay away from family members who feel sick or have been around someone sick, and don’t hug, kiss, or share food or drinks.
⦁    Wear a mask to reduce your risk of catching a coronavirus infection and spreading it to others. Anytime you leave home and are around others, wear a mask. Even if you are inside your home with people who live with you, if they have been at any social gatherings or haven’t used a mask while outside the home, you should all wear masks.
⦁    Stay flexible. Please remember that this is an evolving situation and things change rapidly. We promise to communicate regularly.

 

We thank PACE participants and their families for their patience. The actions we all take now can help us protect each other. And hopefully, before too long, we can safely welcome you back to our PACE centers with open arms and open hearts!

 

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You Need Health Care Coverage Right Now. Let Us Help.

August 13, 2020

For a  variety of reasons many people are now without health care coverage – at a time when there’s a public health crisis raging all around us. Even if you take every precaution to stay safe, now is not the time to be without dependable health care coverage. 

This is a brief rundown of your options. It is not a substitute for advice, and of course, things can change rapidly. That’s why your best bet is to contact us so we can give you personalized advice about your options. Read on to learn more.

 

Getting Insurance Through Medi-Cal

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Medi-Cal is low- or no-cost essential coverage for some of our state’s most vulnerable residents, including those who are:
⦁    Below a certain income level
⦁    Blind
⦁    65 or older
⦁    Disabled
⦁    Under 21
⦁    Pregnant
⦁    In a skilled nursing or intermediate care home
⦁    On refugee status for a limited time, depending on how long you have been in the United States
⦁    A parent or caretaker relative of an age-eligible child
⦁    Have been screened for breast and/or cervical cancer 

If you are eligible for Medi-Cal, you can apply at any time at the Covered California website (also called the exchange). You can choose from plans offered by well-known companies such as Anthem-Blue Cross and Heath Net, and you could also receive public benefits.

Anyone can apply for Medi-Cal, but your immigration status may complicate eligibility or the level of help you can receive.

 

Getting Insurance Through Medicare

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Medicare is for seniors 65 years or older, regardless of their income, medical history, or health status. It also covers younger people with disabilities and people with permanent kidney failure who require dialysis or a transplant. 

Medicare covers many services, including hospitalizations, doctor visits, medications, and even skilled nursing facilities. However, Medicare isn’t just one type of plan:

⦁    Medicare Part A and Part B cover many typical health needs, including doctor visits, preventive services, home health visits, inpatient hospital stays, and more. 
⦁    Medicare Part C, or Medicare Advantage, allows recipients to also enroll in a private health insurance plan to cover gaps in care and keep expenses down.
⦁    Medicare Part D covers outpatient prescription drugs. It is a partnership with private plans.

Most people with Medicare are very satisfied with it. Still, care is not always free, and traditional Medicare does not cover benefits like eyeglasses, dental services, hearing aids, and long-term care. And, as you can see, enrolling in the right combination of plans can be confusing.

 

Getting Insurance Through Covered California

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If you had a job that provided health care coverage but lost it, or had your hours cut and no longer qualify for insurance through work, you could be eligible to get a new plan through Covered California, the state’s insurance exchange. Depending on your income level, you may even qualify for assistance to help you pay for your monthly premiums (but you have to go through Covered California to get it).

If you have experienced one of the following qualifying life events, you have 60 days to apply for a new plan and assistance through Covered California:

⦁    Marriage or divorce
⦁    Loss of Medi-Cal or job-based coverage
⦁    You turn 26 and age out of your parents’ coverage
⦁    Have or adopt a baby
⦁    A death in the family
⦁    Move to a new ZIP code
⦁    Becoming a U.S. citizen

This year, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, California has extended the Special Enrollment period until August 31, to help more people get covered.

If you haven’t had one of the qualifying life events listed above, you can still purchase a plan through Covered California during the regular Open Enrollment period. 

 

Getting Insurance Through COBRA

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If you lose access to your employer-sponsored health insurance, you may be offered COBRA (the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, but it is almost always referred to as COBRA). COBRA lets you keep the plan you were on through your employer, but now, instead of your boss covering part of the bill, you are responsible for the entire monthly premium. COBRA lets you continue your plan for up to 18 months.

Usually, getting your plan through COBRA is very expensive, depending on your plan, if your family was covered, and how much your employer paid. However, it may be worthwhile to consider it if you (or someone covered by the plan) require complex medical care and if:

⦁    Your plan was extremely generous
⦁    You have already met your calendar-year deductible or out-of-pocket maximum
⦁    Your health could be jeopardized by a gap in care or not being able to access specific treatments

 

Not Sure About the Best Choice?

Section 5Health care coverage can be confusing, but it doesn’t have to be. Trust the experts at AltaMed to make it simple for you to select and enroll in the plan that’s the best fit for you and your family’s needs. There’s no cost and no obligation. For more information or to connect with us, visit our Health Insurance Resource page today!
 

 

Help for Caregivers: Recognize the Signs of Cognitive Impairment

July 20, 2020

One of the most difficult parts of being a caregiver is watching someone succumb to age. Living a healthy, active life is a good way to fight off many signs of aging and disease, but even the healthiest of us get older, and that sometimes means becoming debilitated in both body and mind.

If you’re taking care of a relative, it can be difficult to recognize signs that could point to problems with their brain and cognitive ability. After all, if you see them often, it can be hard to notice gradual changes to their personality or thinking. Here are a few of the signs that may indicate that your senior may need extra care or attention.

 

Learn the Signs of Mild Cognitive Impairment

Checking lungs of old personAs we age, our brains become less elastic and a little slower. That’s why we don’t remember names or simply lose track of what we’re thinking. These could be signs of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which can be an early warning for Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.

Other signs of MCI include:

  • Feeling overwhelmed when faced with a decision
  • Having trouble navigating a familiar environment
  • Changes in mood or personality, including anxiety, confusion, depression, or acting suspicious and mistrustful
  • Increased impulsivity or lack of “good judgment”

MCI isn’t caused by one specific disease or condition. It may be a side effect of certain medications, and it may be brought on by endocrine or metabolic disorders (e.g., thyroid gland dysfunctions), as well as changes to the brain. In some cases, MCI may stabilize or even improve, but other people with MCI may develop Alzheimer’s Disease.

 

Learn the Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

brain radiographyAlzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. Alzheimer’s causes abnormal changes to the brain that get worse over time. Although it is related to age, it is not a normal part of aging.

In Alzheimer’s early stages, many people experience no outward signs that anything is wrong. But over time, the symptoms get worse and interfere with their ability to function. That’s why it’s important to recognize the symptoms early.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the 10 most common signs include:

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life

  2. Challenges in planning or problem-solving

  3. Difficulty with familiar tasks

  4. Confusion with time or place

  5. Trouble understanding images or spatial relationships

  6. Problems with words (speaking and writing)

  7. Misplacing things

  8. Poor judgment

  9. Withdrawal from socializing

  10. Changes in mood or personality

 

Toward the end stages of Alzheimer’s, people need a great deal of care. In some cases, they have trouble speaking, swallowing, or walking.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s. However, there are many effective treatments available that fight symptoms and even slow the decline, making it possible for patients to live a more normal life.

 

Help Your Loved One Protect Their Brains

Heart signBoth MCI and Alzheimer’s may be related to genetics, but you can still help your loved one protect and even improve their brain health with a few lifestyle changes:

Serve healthy foods. Avoid highly processed or fatty foods, alcohol, and aspartame (the artificial sweetener found in many diet sodas). Instead, serve lean meats, whole grains, healthy fats, and a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Get them moving. Exercise is one of the best ways to protect brain health. Direct effects include improving memory and thinking by reducing inflammation and stimulating growth factors; indirectly, exercise can help improve sleep quality and helps reduce stress and anxiety.

Keep them socially engaged. Even though it’s still not a good idea to visit relatives and friends in-person right now, help your senior stay social and connected with video-chats, telephone calls, and whatever social opportunities you can perform safely. This will help them feel less isolated, lonely, and depressed, which could offer protection from Alzheimer’s.

Regular doctor’s appointments. Many seniors with MCI go on to develop Alzheimer’s Disease, so regular visits are a good way to “check in” and make sure their condition is being monitored.

 

When You Need Help, We’re Here for You

Heart on hands

AltaMed is here to support caregivers. We offer many senior services, including care from specialists who understand the unique physical and mental health needs of the elderly.

If your senior has two or more medical conditions and needs some extra support, contact us to learn more about AltaMed PACE, the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly. AltaMed PACE helps keep seniors healthy and independent at home by providing coordinated medical care, social services (as needed), meals, and more. The program also helps seniors build social connections and try new activities, which can protect brain health and fight depression.

As the saying goes, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” Caregivers, you need to care for yourself, too! That means eating well to keep your immune system healthy, getting your rest, practicing self-care, and taking care of your own health needs. Don’t neglect your routine visits and tests: we’re open to serve you and we’re committed to keeping you safe. Call us to schedule an appointment at (888) 499-9303.