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Oh, those Medicare blues

The Medicare experience is somewhere between prepping for a colonoscopy and standing in a line at the City Market Pharmacy all they way back to the yogurt with a sore throat, listening to an endless loop of Donnie and Marie Osmond songs.

The only thing worse than having Medicare is not having Medicare, or having the wrong kind of Medicare plan.

Every year Medicare has an open enrollment period from Nov. 15 through Dec. 31 (this may change next year) to change the “credible prescription drug coverage Part D” without a financial penalty. This way you can find a better plan should your prescriptions change, the drug prices change or your plan randomly changes.

This year the open enrollment period includes people that were kicked out of their Advantage Plan, which leads me to briefly explain Medicare itself, which I abhor doing because it might lead someone to believe it is simple, which it is not.

Eligibility for Medicare coverage begins at age 65. It has four parts — A, B, C and D. With per stay deductibles, co-pays and rules, Part A covers hospital stays, rehabilitation and skilled nursing home stays. With more deductibles, co-pays and rules, Part B covers doctor visits.

Part C, known as an Advantage Plan, covers nothing in Archuleta County because Part C is a private insurance company offering Part A and Part B and sometimes throwing in Part D, and there is no insurance company offering that here in paradise. Secure Horizons, Humana and some other companies did offer it here, but they just cancelled it, leaving everyone to scramble, albeit with an open enrollment period, to find other coverage.

Part D, with rules and co-pays, is the prescription drug part. Everyone enrolled in Medicare has Part A and B. Each Part D is up to the individual, based on prescriptions and personal cash flow. Additionally, there are Medicare Supplements also call Medigap Supplements that are enumerated A through F and are sold by private insurance companies.

Ready to drink yet?

The good news is that the Senior Center is the official contact for help with Medicare. We have four trained Volunteers who are patient and unbiased with the power to advise objectively.

Katy, Patti, Bob and Carla dedicate their holiday season to analyzing people’s plans and finding the best plan for the dollar. Why, I don’t know. Not only is Medicare confusing and difficult to navigate, but sometimes the very people they are helping are uncooperative and belligerent.

I am taking appointments now for people who want to review their Medicare coverage with a Medicare counselor beginning Nov. 15 at 264-2167. Our volunteer counselors will only meet with people who bring their Medicare card and all of their prescription drugs. Each appointment takes about an hour.

Contest winners

The winners of our Halloween costume contest are Cecilia Hopper as Vampiress, Bob Goetzinger as Bob the Builder, and Norma Jean Foust as Witchipoo. They each won a free lunch. Thanks for playing!

Thank you

Thank you, Connie Giffin, for your donations of Christmas decorations.

Thank you, Greg Schulte, for joining us for lunch and informing us of the inner workings of our county.

Thank you, Trudy Gomez, for your clothing donation.

Thank you, J.R. Towing, for the donation of cups.

ASI fund-raiser

On Friday, Nov. 5, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Archuleta Seniors, Inc. is hosting a Chili and Bean Dinner Fund-raiser in the Senior Center dining room in the Ross Aragon Community Center at 451 Hot Springs Blvd. For $6.50, the dinner includes chili, cornbread, a drink and a dessert. There will also be a dessert auction.

All proceeds are used to assist low income Seniors with medical expenses.

U-Way certificates

Once again the United Way of Southwest Colorado is offering $25 Dining Certificates.

They work like this. Purchase a Dining Certificate from our office. Take it to a participating business. The participating business gives $5 to the United Way to fund programs in Pagosa Springs, including ours. Why not eat out and have $5 donated at the same time?

Participating businesses are the Alley House Grille, Bacci Italian Restaurant, Bear Creek Saloon and Grill, Boss Hogg’s Restaurant and Saloon, Buffalo Inn Restaurant and Bar, Cafe Colorado, Chimney Rock Restaurant & Tavern, D.J.’s Italian Grill, Dogwood Cafe, ElkHorn Cafe, Farrago Market Cafe, Higher Grounds Coffee Company, JJ’s Riverwalk Restaurant and Pub, Kip’s Grill and Cantina, Nello’s Bistro, Ole Miner’s Steakhouse, Pablo’s Diner, Pagosa Baking Company, Pagosa Brewing Company, Plaza Grille, Ramon’s Mexican Restaurant, Shang Hai Chinese Restaurant, The Rose Restaurant and Victoria’s Cafe, Saloon and Grill.

These certificates make great holiday gifts. Stop by our office and purchase some. Questions? Call me, Jodi, at 264-2167.

Transportation

With the closing of the downtown City Market, we remind you that we have a Senior Bus that runs on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Please call me, Jodi, at 264-2167 for details.

Services

Are you homebound or know someone who is? Let the Silver Foxes Den help you with your meals. We have expanded our service to the more rurally isolated areas of the county and would like to help you help yourself.

These meals are the same meals prepared in our kitchen by the same cooks who prepare those scrumptious Senior Center meals. Our hot meal home-delivered program remains available to those closer to town four days per week, and frozen meals on Thursdays. Meals are available to people age 60-plus for a suggested donation of $3 per meal. Give me or Musetta a call at 264-2167 for further information.

Activities at The Den:

Friday, Nov. 5 — Geezers 9 a.m.; Stitchin’ in the Kitchen 10 a.m.; Tai Chi 11 a.m.; Gym Walk 12:30 p.m.; ASI Chili Fund-raising Dinner 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.

Monday, Nov. 8 — Gym Walk 12:30 p.m.; Canasta 1 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 9 — Yoga 10 a.m.; chair massage 10 a.m.; Gym Walk 12:30 p.m.; Meditation for Healing 1 p.m.

Wednesday, Nov. 10 — Dance for Health 10 a.m.; blood pressure checks 11 a.m.; “Art in the Afternoon,” Serenity Trail Art Gallery 1:15 p.m.

Thursday, Nov. 11 — Closed.

Friday, Nov. 12 — Geezers 9 a.m.; Stitchin’ in the Kitchen 10 a.m.; Tai Chi 11 a.m.; Gym Walk 12:30 p.m; ASI board meeting 1 p.m.

ASI memberships

Is it time for you to renew or buy your 2010 ASI membership? You may purchase memberships at The Silver Foxes Den on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Folks 55 and over will benefit with discounts from many local businesses, including the local hot springs. This is one of the best deals in Pagosa Springs.

This week’s 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 begins at 11:30 a.m. with lunch served from noon to 12:30 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 5 — Crunchy fish, french fries, corn, pineapple and orange mix, whole wheat roll.

Monday, Nov. 8 — Chicken salad sandwich, lettuce and tomato, tomato soup, apple, crackers.

Tuesday, Nov. 9 — Beef and broccoli stir fry, brown rice, carrots, grapes, whole wheat roll.

Wednesday, Nov. 10 — Combination burrito, lettuce, tomato, salsa, seasoned green beans, cilantro lime rice, sliced peaches.

Thursday, Nov. 11 — Closed.

Friday, Nov. 12 — Talapia fish with mushroom sauce, cucumber salad, peas, pears, whole wheat roll.