Real Relief during tough economic times

With the cost of food and health care skyrocketing, families losing their homes, retirement accounts shrinking and millions of Americans without a job, AARP recently launched Real Relief, an online resource to help people weather these tough economic times.

Created to help individuals and families seeking assistance and guidance, this one-stop online portal offers programs and tools for those struggling to make ends meet, seeking employment or job training, worried about retirement, cutting back on expenses, or protecting investments.

Content on the Real Relief site includes:

• Retiree information — helpful tools and resources for retirees who may be facing economic challenges.

• Programs to help make ends meet — including free tax preparation assistance and help accessing and applying for public benefits.

• Job tips — direction on what to do if you are seeking full or part-time employment; and specific companies that value older workers.

• Tips on protecting your money — learn how to avoid scams, protect your assets, and choose a financial planner.

• Financial calculators — all designed to help you keep your finances on track.

• Money saving tips — suggestions on how and where to cut back on expenses.

• Economic news — featuring specialized articles in AARP Bulletin Today; 1-888-OUR-AARP is a toll-free number where you can find help and answers.

We encourage you to use these online resources or to share them with others in need.

Medicare open enrollment

Are you baffled by the many decisions you are faced with regarding your Medicare these days?

The decisions you need to make as you approach your 65th birthday can be overwhelming. Keeping up with the information you need regarding Part A (hospitalization), Part B (physicians visits), Part C (Medicare Advantage Plans), Part D (prescription drugs) can be a full-time job. Did you know lower income individuals may be entitled to lower premiums and lower cost prescriptions? There’s a lot to consider!

The State Health Insurance Assistance Program through the State of Colorado Division of Insurance, or SHIPS, helps beneficiaries identify and understand programs and plans, including Medicare prescription drug coverage, Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare supplemental insurance policies, Medicare Savings programs, long-term care insurance and financing, and other public and private health insurance coverage options. SHIPs also assist eligible participants in enrolling in these programs and plans, all services are provided free charge at the Silver Foxes Den — a cultural center for older adults.

Medicare Health Plans — Part C.

These plans are approved by Medicare and run by private companies. When you join one of these plans, you are still in Medicare. Some of these plans require referrals to see specialists. They provide all of your Part A (hospital) and Part B (medical) coverage. They generally offer extra benefits, and many include prescription drug coverage. These plans often have networks which means you may have to see doctors who belong to the plan or go to certain hospitals to get covered services. In many cases, your costs for services can be lower than in the Original Medicare Plan, but it is important to check with the plan because the costs for services will vary. To learn more about these plans visit www.medicare.gov and click on Medicare Health Plans-2009 Data or schedule an appointment at The Den.

Open enrollment for Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage plans) is through March 31; appointments fill quickly, so call 264-2167 for information or an appointment.

Special events

I.O.U.S.A. — One Nation. Under stress. In debt.

The United States has been spending its way deeper and deeper into the red, and saddling future generations with the mess — but who’s paying attention? This documentary explains the national debt, the foreign trade deficit, the decrease in personal savings and how the prime interest rate works. The film will be shown at The Den on Friday, Feb. 20, at 12:45 p.m. The views and opinions expressed in this documentary are those of the film maker and participants and do not reflect the opinions of Archuleta County, the Senior Center or staff.

Weekly activities

Friday, Feb. 20 — Geezers, 9 a.m.; gym walk, 11:15 a.m., I.O.U.S.A., movie, 12:45 p.m.

Monday, Feb. 23 — Nails by Jolyne, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; gym walk, 11:15 a.m.; canasta, 1 p.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 24 — Blood pressure check, 11 a.m.; gym walk, 11:15 a.m.; Meditation for Healing, 1 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 25 — Dance for Health, 10 a.m.; Alzheimer support group, 1 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 26 — Administrative day.

Friday, Feb. 27 — Geezers, 9 a.m.; book club, 10:30 a.m.; gym walk, 11:15 a.m.; February birthday celebration, noon; Eating to Prevent Diabetes, Mikel Love, 12:15 p.m.

Medical expense assistance

 The Silver Foxes Den, in cooperation with Archuleta Seniors, Inc. (ASI), may be able to help with excess medical expenses.  Items covered might be prescription copays, eyeglasses, hearing aids and dental care.  Qualifying amounts are based on income and need. Recipients must be current members of ASI.  Dues are $5 per year. For more information about how we might help you or your family, contact Musetta at 264-2167.

Books and movies

Discover the books and movies The Den has to offer. These are available for you to check out or you can sit back, relax and watch a movie in our cozy lounge.

Monthly calendar

Alzheimer’s Support Group. Elaine Stumpo, regional director for SW Alzheimer’s Association, hosts this monthly gathering for individuals who are supporting loved ones who are living with Alzheimer’s. Learn how to be supportive of someone with memory loss. The meeting takes place in the Silver Foxes Den the last Wednesday of the month at 1 p.m.

ASI board meeting. Archuleta Seniors, Inc. meets the second Friday of every month at 1 p.m. This board also serves as the Local Council on Aging and supports many of the activities at The Den. In addition to their support of The Den, they are also a non-profit organization providing support to seniors who may need additional financial support in areas such as medical needs. Please see their membership packet available at The Den for further information.

Silver Foxes Book Club. Do you love to read? Do you have a desire to discuss what you read in a group setting of inquiring minds? If so, then we have just the thing for you. Kathy Hamilton from the Sisson Library hosts the Silver Foxes Book Club on the fourth Friday of every month at 10:30 a.m. in the Den. Kathy can also obtain books on CD, cassette, and in large print. Stop by the Silver Foxes Den to sign up or call 264-2167.

ASI memberships

Time to renew or buy your 2009 ASI Membership? During the month of February you may purchase memberships at The Silver Foxes Den on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Folks 55 and older will benefit with discounts from many local businesses, including the local hot springs. This is one of the best deals in Pagosa. All 2008 memberships expired Dec. 31.

Meals on Wheels

Archuleta County Senior Services is now offering frozen meals for once-a-week delivery to reach those who are more rurally isolated and unable to participate in our regular route of the Meals on Wheels program. The suggested donation for these meals is $3 each. To find out if you qualify for this program or for more information, call 264-2167.

Increase in prices

Beginning Jan. 1, there was an increase in our Medical shuttle and Non-senior meal charges. The price is now $35 for medical shuttle services. If you are an Archuleta Seniors Inc. member, the charge is $10.

Menu

Suggested donation for older adults age 60-plus is $3, kids 12 and under and guests $6. Our meal program is partially funded through the Older Americans Act, United Way, and Archuleta County, Town of Pagosa Springs and other contributions and grants. These funds help support the cost of the meal which is approximately $9.75. Please note our menu is subject to change. The salad bar opens at 11:30 a.m. with lunch served at noon.

Friday, Feb. 20 — French dip, potatoes, mixed veggies, strawberry apple sauce.

Monday, Feb. 23 — Beef and broccoli stir fry, brown rice, carrots, fruit.

Tuesday, Feb. 24 — Roast turkey, mashed potatoes, veggie medley, raisin nut cup, roll.

Wednesday, Feb. 25 — Lasagna, Italian beans, tossed salad, banana, bread.

Thursday, Feb. 26 — Administrative day.

Friday, Feb. 27 — Chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, lima beans, pineapple, birthday cake.