The Sandwich Generation

The Sandwich Generation

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Are you raising your own children and caring for aging parents? If so, you are part of an ever-growing group called the Sandwich Generation. The sandwich generation is typically people in their thirties or forties, responsible for bringing up their own children while at the same time, responsible for the care of their aging parents.  While this generation is probably well-versed in summer camps, daycares, and immunization schedules, they may also be familiar with topics like Medicare, Long-Term Care Insurance, or how to prepare for a decline in their parents’ independence. If thinking about all of that is enough to send you running for the hills, don’t. Knowledge, in this situation as in most every situation, is power and peace of mind.

The Sandwich Generation is rapidly growing as the number of people over the age of 65 is set to double over the next 25 years. Being a member of that generation means you are taking care of the people in your life who matter the most, but it comes at a cost, both financial and personal.

There are a number of things you can do to prepare for this potential situation and to reduce your stress load.

Take care of yourself. You need to sleep, eat well, exercise, and remember to laugh. Caretaking takes a heavy toll and if you are taking care of your kids as well as your parents, you’re getting hit by a double whammy.

If your parents are still able to manage their finances, you don’t know that they always will be. Talk with them about their finances and be sure to understand what they have, how they have it managed, and if they will need long-term care, how it will be paid for.

Educate yourself about Medicare. It’s an alphabet soup with Part A, Part B, Part C, and Part D and you’ll want to know what your parents have and what they don’t.

  • Part A covers hospitalization, some skilled nursing facility and home health care, and hospice. Both your parents get this coverage free even if only one of them worked and paid Social Security taxes for at least 10 years.
  • Part B covers doctor’s care, lab tests, screenings and preventive services. Your parents will usually pay a monthly premium for this coverage.
  • Part C, also called Medicare Advantage, consists of Medicare-approved plans offered by private insurers that include Medicare Part A and Part B coverage in one package. Some plans also include coverage of prescription drugs.
  • Part D is the Medicare prescription drug benefit plan that your parents can purchase if they are eligible for Medicare. 
The need for help with transportation, growing hospital and medication expenses, and extra homecare increases substantially as we age. Learn about programs that are available for people juggling caretaking on both ends. 
  • Getting Around: Sometimes your aging parent just needs help getting around. Well, there’s an app for that and an app you are most likely familiar with—UBER or LYFT.  If you’re shuttling kids from soccer practice to friends’ houses, you probably can’t take your parent to every appointment. The use of these ride services among seniors is steadily increasing and helping many seniors get to doctor appointments, the grocery store, or invaluable social time with family or friends. One of the worst things for an elderly person’s state of mind can be feeling isolated or stuck. Ride services like Uber or Lyft can help alleviate that isolation and the pressure on the caregiver. See this article on senior.com about using Uber to care for elders.
  • Affording Medications: Getting sticker shock at the pharmacy when picking up your folks medications? Simplefill , the leading prescription assistance company, is here for you. As we age, our medication needs can grow exponentially and managing costs can be overwhelming for the entire family. A prescription assistance company like Simplefill helps patients find ways of affording their increased medication expenses. Simplefill is a service that is easy to use is well known for their customer care. Just call to talk to a service representative and she will walk you through the process.
  • Home Care or Assisted Living: There are reputable companies that can give you help in the home if your parent isn’t ready for a nursing home yet. Home Instead and A Place for Mom are two companies helping the sandwich gen care for their parents.

It’s stressful answering the needs of young children or teenagers while juggling the needs of an aging parent. It can feel like a never-ending battle. Remember to take joy in having your family around—at whatever stage of life. Know that you are able to give back to your parents all the love and support they gave to you. And know that you’re teaching your own children that we do what we can for our family.

Are you an Informal Caregiver?

Are you an Informal Caregiver?

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What is an Informal Caregiver?

When a disease or disability makes it impossible for a person to live on their own, they require round-the-clock assistance for their health and safety. The people that provide this assistance are called caregivers. While some people opt for formal caregivers — trained professionals hired to help with day-to-day assistance — most people cannot afford such care. Most rely on a spouse, partner, family member, or friend to provide informal caregiving. In order to be there in case of emergency day or night, many informal caregivers either move in with their loved one or bring them to their own home.

You Are Not Alone

According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, in 2015 approximately 43.5 million caregivers have provided unpaid care to an adult or child while about 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older. The value of services provided by informal caregivers is more than $470 billion annually — almost as much as WalMart makes in a year.

Caregiver Stress Syndrome

The terms “caregiver syndrome” or “caregiver stress” refer to the exhaustion, anger, rage or guilt that result from unrelieved caring for a dependent. Illness and injury have a way of making a person feel out of control of a difficult situation. The demands of caring for someone dealing with a serious illness or injury can quickly grow overwhelming. Eventually, some people experience extreme burnout, leaving them unable to care for themselves, let alone another person.

Signs of caregiver stress syndrome include:
  • Uncontrollable irritability
  • Overreacting
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulties sleeping
  • Depression
  • Issues with concentration
  • Growing feelings of resentment
  • Becoming withdrawn
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Destructive behaviors
  • Poor eating habits
  • Loss of interest in leisure activities
  • New or worsening health problems
Self-Care for Preventing Burnout

Taking time to care for yourself is the best way to prevent burnout. It may seem selfish to put your needs first when your friend or loved one is sick, but if you work yourself into the most extreme symptoms of caregiver stress syndrome, you won’t be able to help anyone. Prioritizing your health and wellbeing isn’t selfish at all– in fact, it’s necessary for the both of you.

Here are just a few ways caretakers should practice self-care.
Reduce Clutter, Reduce Stress: We can’t always help the ways life stresses us out, but we can control our environment and align it in a way to reduce things we recognize as triggers. If you want to reduce stress in your household, go through room by room and throw out all the excess items and trash. Clutter is a significant source of stress in life. It bombards the senses, distracts, and inhibits mindfulness. Throw out things you don’t use or need — only keep things you can tuck in places out of sight and out of mind.
Ask for Help: Caregivers are just that, giving. But giving people often make the mistake of thinking they have to do everything on their own. Don’t get caught in the thought that you don’t deserve help in areas where you need it. If it costs a little bit of money, it is worth it if it contributes to the preservation of your sanity. Look into services that can provide household help with chores from dusting to dog walking. When you outsource daily chores, use the free time to do something simple for yourself.  
Spend Time Outdoors: Being cooped up indoors all the time is incredibly stifling for both the body and mind. Humans need fresh air and sunshine. Just being outside helps to regulate blood pressure, reduce cortisol in the body and clear the mind. Make time in nature a priority for both you and the loved one you are caring for. Reap the physical and mental benefits of the outdoors.

***

When disease or disability leaves a person unable to care for themselves independently, they often turn to a friend or loved one to become an informal caregiver. Caregiving is a noble thing, but it can cause a lot of stress and health problems that accompany stress. That’s why it is so important for these caregivers to practice self-care by doing things such as reducing stress in their life, asking for help and being proactive about spending time outdoors.

This blog post was written by Harry Cline, creator of NewCaregiver.org and author of the upcoming book, The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers. As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be. He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out. He created his website and is writing his new book to offer new caregivers everywhere help and support.

The Facts About Colorectal Cancer

The Facts About Colorectal Cancer

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By Ryan Waterfield

Colorectal cancer (the term used to describe both colon and rectal cancer) is the third most common cancer diagnosed in the United States and the third leading cause of cancer death (excluding skin cancers). The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be 97,220 new cases of colon cancer and 43,030 new cases of rectal cancer in the United States in 2018, and it’s expected to cause about 50,630 deaths this year.

Risk Factors

Many of the risk factors for colorectal cancers are outside of our control including age, race (African Americans have a greater risk of colon cancer than other races), inflammatory intestinal conditions, genetics, and radiation therapy directed at abdomen. Other risk factors are lifestyle related such as low-fiber, high-fat diets, a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, smoking, and heavy alcohol consumption.

To Decrease Your Risk

  • Exercise most days of the week.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Practice moderation in alcohol consumption.
  • Avoid red meat.
  • Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.

Prevention is key

Regular screening for colorectal cancer is one of the most powerful weapons for prevention. The most common and effective form of screening is colonoscopy—especially for those with a family history or other high-risk factors.

To learn about screening options (in addition to colonoscopy) for colorectal cancer: https://www.cancer.gov/types/colorectal/screening-fact-sheet

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms that might indicate colorectal cancer:

  • A change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool, that lasts longer than four weeks
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
  • Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain
  • A feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss

If you have a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps, or you have signs or symptoms that may indicate colorectal cancer, speak to your doctor as soon as possible. Early detection means a higher likelihood of survival.

To learn about the stages of colorectal cancer: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/staged.html

Treatment Options

There are a number of treatment options for colorectal cancer including: surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or targeted therapy—a form of treatment that uses monoclonal antibodies to help treat metastatic (cancer that spreads) colorectal cancer.

Medications such as Xeloda, Avastin, and Cytoxan are commonly prescribed to help fight the spread of colorectal cancer. If you need prescription assistance to help afford the cost of Xeloda, Avastin, or Cytoxan, contact a SimplFill representative. Simpelfill provides expert patient assistance and helps patients and their families understand and access the appropriate medications.

Call Simplefill at 1.877.386.0206 or go to www.simplefill.com to start the application process online.

 

 

 

Hey Baby Boomers, Listen Up!

Hey Baby Boomers, Listen Up!

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Hey Baby Boomers Listen Up!

What can you buy for $3.00? Not much.

Social Security Administration recently announced the cost of living adjustment for 2017 is only 0.3%. That equates to roughly $3.00 a month. These days that might get you a cup of coffee but don’t expect the sugar or the cream.  Meanwhile, your Part B premium which is your medical portion of your plan will increase and will take the entire amount. All three dollars!

At Simplefill, we believe this increase amount is “no increase.” It’s been 3 years since retirees have had a benefit increase. However, prices for goods and services continue to rise, along with the cost of medications.

The chance that the cost of your drug price will go down is about the same chance of you getting struck by lightning. It can happen, but it sure isn’t very likely.

Here at Simplefill, we suggest you take the time to review your coverage with an insurance representative. Open enrollment has started and will end December 7, 2016. It is wise to compare different plans and choose the plan that is best for you. If you cannot find a plan that covers your medications or you will hit your coverage gap, also known as “The Donut Hole”, be sure to call Simplefill so you are not stuck paying the full retail cost of your expensive medications.

Simplefill’s mission is to find solutions for retirees who have been prescribed expensive medications that they simply cannot afford.

When you call; you will speak with a Simplefill Care Coordinator who will review your medication list and find ways to help you save money. We pride ourselves by not only saving money for retirees, but also offering exceptional customer service. Our members can always speak with a live person and not a machine. We also have the latest technology where you can check your order and enrollment information using the Patient Portal at any time.

Call us today! 1-877-386-0206

June is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

June is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

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My uncle, Francois, was kind, sweet and always had something to say. Always. He was a quirky man with an adventurous spirit which is what made it difficult for us to identify what was happening to Francois.

Francois lived in North Miami, Florida with my aunt. When my aunt asked him to run to the store to pick up a few items, she thought nothing of it. After all, he had done it 100 times in the past. Hours later my uncle was still not back. We began to panic. We filed a missing person report and was told that all we could do at that time was wait. We waited and waited for that phone to ring. Hours after we filed the report, the phone rang. It was not Francois on the other line, it was the state police department.
Instead of going to the store, Francois got on I-95 North and drove 200 miles to the Georgia state line. He drove until he literally ran out of gas. The state police picked him up and saw he was on the missing person’s report. The state police kept him at the station until we got there to pick him up. They enjoyed my uncle, they even gave him a jacket to coronet his adventure! When we asked my uncle why he drove so far he had no answer. He did not remember. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s later that month.

June is Alzheimer’s awareness month. At Simplefill, we believe it is important to help spread the awareness.

I watched my uncle struggle with this disease and what seemed harder was watching my aunt manage his illness. She went from having a best friend and partner in life, to having a full time caregiving job that left her financially and emotionally exhausted. My aunt is not alone. There is an estimated 5.4 million Americans with Alzheimer’s and over 15 million caretakers that tend to Alzheimer patients.

Notable Facts
1. Every 66 seconds someone in the United States develops the disease
2. Family caregivers spend more than $5,000.00 a year caring for someone with Alzheimer’s
3. In 2016, Alzheimer’s and other dementias will cost the nation $236 Billion
4. Alzheimer’s kills more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined

Sometimes the signs of Alzheimers are not noticed until the disease has advanced. Keep in mind these 10 warning signs and contact your doctor if these behavior patterns become more common.

10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s
1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
2. Challenges in planning or solving simple problems
3. Difficulty in completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
4. Confusion with time
5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
8. Decreased or poor judgment
9. Changes in mood and personality
10. Withdrawal from work and social activities

The team at Simplefill hopes to spread the awareness of this debilitating disease and let people know we can help alleviate some of the financial burden that falls onto families of Alzheimer’s patients. There are several medications that have been developed to slow down the progression of the disease. Unfortunately, these medications come with a high price tag. Often the medication(s) are unaffordable for patients. If you know of someone who needs assistance paying for their Alzheimer medication which includes but is not limited to Namzaric, Exelon Patch, or Namenda please call Simplefill today (1-877-386-0206). We look forward to helping you.

Is Insurance Worth the Cost? An Examination of the Evidence

Is Insurance Worth the Cost? An Examination of the Evidence

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The Affordable Care Act, despite its good intentions, has been met with a mixed reception since its rollout. Millions of Americans living below the poverty line are now able to access health care, prescription assistance, and doctor appointments for their families. On the flip side, millions of others ineligible for assistance find themselves with a dilemma: pay for insurance and foot premiums they can’t afford, or pay the penalty fee. The latter is often far more affordable.

Politics aside, here’s an examination of what the raw data shows.

The Statistics

It’s a fact that under the Affordable Care Act, the rate of uninsured Americans has dropped, down to 9.2% in the first quarter of 2015, compared to 15.7% in 2011 before the act was signed by the president. The figure is expected to drop even further in 2016 as more Americans become aware of how the program works.

There is also a misconception about who makes up the majority of the previously uninsured. The prevailing belief is that those who benefit the most are those who are unemployed, using food stamps, or “leeching” off the system in one way or another.

In reality, the majority of these people are from the working class who did not have health insurance due to premiums being out of their budget.

Furthermore, a 2012 study by Families USA also showed that between 2005 and 2010, 130,000 Americans died due to not having health insurance. That’s 25% higher compared to the insured. There are other similar studies, and while the numbers may differ slightly, there appears to be a unanimous consensus: those who lack basic health care are more likely to die than their insured counterparts.

With the statistics as evidence, a strong argument can be made that the Affordable Care Act saves lives. That’s a second chance for countless Americans.

Exploring the Other Side of the Coin

Looking at some of the statistics alone, it would seem like a bullet-proof argument in favor of Obamacare. However, statistics without context only frames the argument from one perspective. There are many working Americans who need affordable health insurance just as much, but are ineligible due to just being barely above the income threshold. To say that Obamacare is a success would be leaving these Americans’ voices unrepresented.

Take into account Marhsa Danley, a 56-year-old native of Napa, CA, and full-time worker who is just above the income bracket that would allow her to qualify for a subsidy. She has not had insurance in over 10 years, though under Obamacare, she will be required to pay roughly $500 a month for a Silver Plan that includes a $5,000 annual deductible. Despite an annual $68,000 income, the $500 a month premium is simply beyond Danley’s budget considering that she has other debts, not to mention having to foot her mother’s existing medical bill when she fell ill a few years earlier.

Danley’s story isn’t a unique one. Many hard working Americans, despite being considered middle-class income earners, are feeling the financial sting of having to pay for health insurance. Many are instead opting to pay the penalty fee since it’s the more financially sound decision. Taking this road, of course, still leaves them without health coverage.

Even those already insured are seeing a hike in premiums. Also, more employers are nixing health insurance plans for their employees or are drastically reducing the coverage. UPS, for example, just recently removed spousal coverage from its plan and cited the Affordable Care Act as reason for doing so. This means employees now have to enroll in an individual health insurance plan that, much like in Danley’s situation, they may not be able to afford. The Affordable Care Act, as it turns out, isn’t so affordable for a large working class demographic.

We’re Here to Help

At Simplefill, we know that even with insurance, prescription drug costs are sometimes unaffordable. Whether you are living without health insurance, struggling with cost of high co-pays or being forced to make decisions due to limited prescription drug coverage, our mission is to ensure all patients receive the help they need. We believe that no American should be forced to choose between potentially life-saving medication and being plundered into deep debt. Get in touch with us to learn more about our prescription assistance program. Based on your eligibility, you may also qualify for grant services.

Chronic Disease Series: Multiple Sclerosis

Chronic Disease Series: Multiple Sclerosis

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More than 2.3 million people across the planet are living with Multiple Sclerosis. Each month we explore a different chronic disease as part of our mission of promoting health knowledge. This month, we’re answering some of the questions you might have about this disease with the help of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Continue reading

Chronic Disease Series: Epilepsy

Chronic Disease Series: Epilepsy

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Epilepsy is a neurological disorder disrupts the brain’s nerve cell activity inducing a seizure. An estimated 150,000 Americans live with epilepsy each year. If you’ve spoken with your doctor about your symptoms, then it’s important to manage your illness with seizure medication.

If you have a seizure that lasts more than five minutes, lose consciousness, or experience a second seizure immediately following the first, it’s important to get medical attention quickly. Epileptic seizures spark reactions that range from mild to severe. Minor responses include inattention and prolonged blank states, whereas intense lack of joint control or loss of consciousness characterize intense symptoms.

Tegretol, also known as Carbamazepine, is an anticonvulsant that mitigates nerve pains. It halts seizures by moderating brain activity. Zarontin is another popular anti-seizure medication. This type of medication halts abnormal activity in the brain, which can typically spark a seizure. Felbatol and Gabitril are two other popular anti-epileptic drugs that help to moderate the brain’s nerve cell activity.

If you are living with epilepsy, make sure to take your medication reliably, exercise regularly, and rest properly. It’s also important to wear a medical bracelet. Educate your housemates on how to handle a seizure: Roll onto one side, place something soft under your head, and never restrict movement.

It’s possible to comfortably live with epilepsy, but many forms of epilepsy require the support of regular medication. If you are having difficulty affording your medications, reach out to the Simplefill team. We advocate for your right to access the affordable prescriptions that enable you to live a healthy life. Explore what options we can offer you and apply today.

Simplefill: Why We Decided to Help Provide Medication Assistance

Simplefill: Why We Decided to Help Provide Medication Assistance

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Many Americans are facing an impossible choice: Should they go into debt to get the medications they need, or should they risk their lives to spare their wallet? At Simplefill, we don’t believe anyone should have to struggle with this dilemma. Americans are feeling crippled by the escalating price of medications and they don’t know where to turn. Simplefill offers a solution with our response to increasing medical costs.

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