Southwest Montana Aging and Disability Services
Area V Agency on Aging
2019 Medicare Open Enrollment.
Medicare Open Enrollment Period
October 15 to December 7 of 2019
This is the time of year that Medicare Beneficiaries can review and change their Medicare Prescription Drug Plans or Medicare Advantage Plans.
SHIP counselors at Southwest Montana Aging and Disability Services will be available by appointment throughout the Medicare Open Enrollment Period. Please call our office at 782-5555
SHIP counselors are trained to help Medicare Beneficiaries navigate the Medicare system and make an informed decision about their coverage options. The SHIP program provides an unbiased prospective and there is no charge for these services. We encourage all Medicare Beneficiaries to review their plan options on annual basis to be sure that their current prescription drug or advantage plan coverage is still the best for them.
Southwest Montana Aging and Disability Services will be having Medicare 101 presentations that explain the different parts of Medicare, A,B,C and D; Medicare Supplements; programs that help low-income beneficiaries and how beneficiaries can help waste, fraud and abuse in the Medicare system. If you are approaching Medicare age, new to Medicare or just want to better understand your Medicare you will find this presentation helpful. Keep an eye out for presentation dates or call us at (406) 782-5555 for more information.
Commodity boxes will be distributed on the following Mondays: February 11th, April 8th, June 10th, August 12th, October 7th and December 9th in 2019. Distribution will be from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for those who are already signed up for the program. If participants are unable to pick up their box on that day they need to contact our office in order to have a box set aside. Home bound clients and clients in senior housing will receive their commodities on the following Wednesdays. To inquire about the program or notify us that you cannot pick up on the designated date, please calll 782-5555.
SMP Care Share
Flu Season is Upon Us:
A friendly reminder from your neighborhood nurse.
Well folks, it’s that time of year again – flu season. While many of us look forward to the coming holidays and spending time with family, there are some that will be caught off-guard by that nasty little influenza bug. To decrease chances of contracting the flu there is one simple step you can take to protect yourself and those around you – get your flu shot.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone six months and older get their yearly flu vaccine. For adults 65 and older this is especially important due to the increase in risk for developing serious complications from the flu virus. As we age our immune system weakens, lessening our ability to fight off infection. For those that have other health complications, like diabetes, asthma and heart disease, that ability declines even more. Unfortunately, this leads to a rise in hospitalizations and even death from the flu virus. The CDC states that in recent seasons, 50% to 70% of hospitalizations and 70% to 90% deaths related to influenza in the United States have been among people 65 years and older. Numbers to not simply dismiss.
Vaccination does not guarantee complete immunity, but studies have shown that for those that receive the flu shot, severity and duration of flu symptoms are significantly reduced for those that contract the virus. And for those that insist that the flu shot “gives them the flu” – well, it simply does not. Some mild side effects of the vaccine may include fever, body aches, headache and tiredness, but usually pass in a few days, and are far less harmful than actually getting the flu.
The CDC recommends that everyone receive their flu shot by the end of October, but if you haven’t got yours yet, don’t worry, IT’S NOT TOO LATE! Flu season peaks between December and February, and as long as the flu virus is circulating, you are at risk. It takes about two weeks for antibodies to build up in your system, so getting your vaccination sooner than later is important.
You can get your flu vaccine at several locations, including doctors’ offices, pharmacies, the health department and even traveling clinics. The best part is, flu shots are covered through most insurances and are a guaranteed benefit through Medicare Part B, therefore you pay nothing. Free is a great price to pay for peace of mind!
If you have more questions regarding the risks of the flu and benefits of receiving your yearly vaccination, please, speak with your doctor or healthcare professional.
-Christine McGrath, RN
*All facts provided by the CDC
FDA warns of fraudulent and unapproved flu products
Excerpts from FDA News Release
As part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s ongoing efforts to protect consumers from health fraud, the agency is reminding consumers to be wary of unapproved products claiming to prevent, treat or cure influenza, or flu. This year’s severe flu season raises new concerns about the potential for consumers to be lured into buying unproven flu treatments, and even worse, buying counterfeit antivirals online from websites that appear to be legitimate online pharmacies.
As the flu continues to make people sick — and even cause deaths — unscrupulous actors may also be taking advantage of unsuspecting consumers by promoting their fraudulent products that have not been reviewed by the FDA to be safe and effective. The FDA is warning consumers to be alert, and try to steer clear of fraudulent flu products, which may be found online or in retail stores. We’re advising consumers on some of the telltale signs to look for when trying to spot flu products that may be fraudulent. All of us must also continue to be diligent in doing our part to prevent the spread of flu however possible. People who are sick with flu-like symptoms and those who are at high risk of serious flu complications should see a health care professional as soon as possible to see if they should be treated with antiviral drugs.”
Consumers should be aware that there are no legally marketed over-the-counter (OTC) drugs to prevent or cure the flu. However, there are legal OTC products to reduce fever and to relieve muscle aches, congestion and other symptoms typically associated with the flu.
Products sold online are fraudulent if they claim to prevent, treat or cure the flu, and have not been evaluated by the FDA for that intended use.
These flu claims may indicate that an OTC product is fraudulent:
reduces severity and length of the flu;
boosts your immunity naturally without a flu shot;
safe and effective alternative to the flu vaccine;
prevents catching the flu;
effective treatment for the flu;
faster recovery from the flu; or
supports your body's natural immune defenses to fight off the flu.
Health fraud scams waste money, lead to delays in getting a proper diagnosis and treatment, and may even lead to more serious injuries or death. The FDA routinely warns the public about health scams and has recently taken action against companies promoting and selling unproven treatments for cancer, opioid addiction and other illnesses. However, there are numerous unapproved and potentially unsafe products that continue to be sold directly to consumers in part because companies or individuals can move their marketing operations to new websites.
To report healthcare fraud and abuse, call
Montana SMP 1-800-551-3191