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By Lisa Cook Bayer
Lisa Cook Bayer, J.D., is President of Life Management Resources, LLC, a private elder care advocacy firm located in northern New Jersey.
Often we read articles about and see advertisements for services and opportunities that will allow older adults to age gracefully and safely while enjoying a full life. Home care workers can assist seniors with activities of daily living such as preparing healthy meals, light housekeeping, and help with bathing and dressing. Adult day care facilities can provide stimulating activities in a safe and productive environment. Durable medical equipment or making structural changes to one’s home can increase mobility and accessibility where there may not have been before.

All these things are great, but how do we pay for them? It is often a matter of applying for and accessing a combination of public entitlements, private benefits, community services and private opportunities, legal rights and non-economic resources.

Depending on an individual’s health status, income and resources he or she might be eligible for Medicaid, a public entitlement that provides not only medical insurance but pays for adult day and long term care. Medicare and Medigap (a supplemental private insurance program that can not only pick up the difference after Medicare pays the provider but oftentimes provides additional coverage not provided for under traditional Medicare). When it comes to prescription drugs, people need to review their insurance benefits (whether through a Medicare part D plan or other health insurance). When there are gaps or lapses, consider contacting state and county low-income programs. In New Jersey many older adults utilize the PAAD or Senior Gold programs. In fact, many pharmaceutical companies subsidize medications for low-income patients so it may be worth contacting the pharmaceutical manufacturer directly.

In addition to pharmaceutical and health insurance plans and programs, it is important to review eligibility for Veterans, Social Security, employee assistance, long term care, and life and disability benefits opportunities. Furthermore, many organizations and associations provide grant opportunities, benefits and discounts for their members.

Of course, not all benefits are economic in nature. For example, state and federal laws might provide opportunities such as mandating accessibility (Americans with Disability Act) or guaranteeing job security under the Family and Medical Leave Act. In fact, states, such as New Jersey and California, are beginning to expand eligibility and to include an economic component in the form of weekly benefits. Other suggestions include encouraging seniors and those with disabilities to seek out local low-cost or free services such as county or township transportation, relaxed zoning guidelines, or public health opportunities which can include anything from vaccines to eye exams. Finally, it is important to reach out and accept help from extended family, friends, neighbors, senior centers, support groups, and clergy.

In conclusion, a combination of economic and non-economic benefits can help improve not only the older adult’s, but the quality of life and economic stability of his or her loved ones.

Written by Lisa Bayer, President, Life Management Resources LLC

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