Senior Connection

Jul 28, 2010


Over 9 million women in the U.S. have diabetes.
And 3 million of them don't even know it!
by The Food and Drug Administration

Did you know ...?
  • Women with diabetes are more likely to have a heart attack and have it at a younger age.
  • Some women get diabetes when they are pregnant.
  • Women who have diabetes are more likely to have a miscarriage or a baby with birth defects.
  • Women with diabetes, according to recent studies are more likely to be poor, which makes it harder to manage the disease.
  • Most people with diabetes die from heart attack or stroke.
What is diabetes?
  • It is a disease that changes the way your body uses food. The food you eat turns to sugar. The sugar then travels through the blood to all parts of the body. Normally, insulin helps get sugar from the blood to the body's cells, where it is used for energy.
  • When you have diabetes, your body has trouble making and/or using insulin. So your body does not get the fuel it needs. And your blood sugar stays too high.
What are the types of diabetes?
  • Type 1 --The body does not make any insulin. People with type1 must take insulin every day to stay alive.
  • Type 2 --The body does not make enough insulin, or use insulin well. Most people with diabetes have type 2.

Are you at risk for diabetes?
  • Do you need to lose weight?
  • Do you get little or no exercise?
  • Do you have high blood pressure (130/80 or higher)?
  • Do you have a brother or sister with diabetes?
  • Do you have a parent with diabetes?
  • Are you a woman who had it when you were pregnant. OR have you had a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds at birth?
  • Are you African American, Native American, Hispanic, or Asian American/Pacific Islander?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you need a diabetes test.

What are the warning signs?
  • Going to the bathroom a lot
  • Feeling hungry or thirsty all the time
  • Blurred vision
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Cuts or bruises that are slow to heal
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
Most people with diabetes do not notice any signs
What can I do if I have diabetes?
Watch What You Eat and Get Exercise
  • There is no one diet for people with diabetes. Work with your health care team to come up with a plan for you.
  • You can eat the foods you love by watching serving sizes. The "Nutrition Facts" label on foods can help. Many packaged foods contain more than 1 serving.
  • Carbohydrates raise your blood sugar the most. Cut back on these. For example bread, cereal, rice, and pasta.
  • Be active at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week. Exercise helps your body's insulin work better. It also lowers your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
Use Medicines Wisely
  • Sometimes people with diabetes need to take pills or insulin shots. Be sure to follow the directions.
  • Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist what your medicines do. Also ask when to take them and if they have any side effects.

Check Your Blood Sugar and Know Your ABCs
  • Help prevent heart disease and stroke by keeping your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol under control.
  • Check your blood sugar using a meter (home testing kit). This tells what your blood sugar is so you can make wise choices.
  • Ask your doctor for an A-1-C ("A-one-see") blood test. It measures blood sugar levels over 2 to 3 months.
  • Talk to your health care team about your ABC's:
    • A-1-C
    • Blood pressure
    • Cholesterol
To learn more: Contact the American Diabetes Association 1-800-342-2383 (1-800-Diabetes)

Jul 14, 2010

Becoming Over Heated

Tips for Preventing Heat-related Illness

Prevention is critical to protecting your health. Here are tips to safeguard your health during the hot weather:

  • Drink more fluids. It’s very important to keep hydrated. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Warning: If your physician limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, check with him on how much you should drink while the weather is hot.
  • Don’t drink liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar. These types of liquids make you lose more body fluid.
  • Stay indoors and, if possible, stay in an air-conditioned room. If your home does not have air conditioning, visit a shopping mall or public library. You can also contact your local health department to find out if there are any heat-relief shelters in your area.
  • Electric fans may offer some comfort. However, when the temperature reaches the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath, or spending time in an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.
  • Wear clothing that is lightweight, light-colored, and loose-fitting.
  • NEVER leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, including pets.
  • Some people are at greater risk for heat related illness. Check regularly on:
    • Infants and young children
    • People aged 65 or older
    • People who have a mental illness
    • Those who are physically ill, especially people with heart disease or high blood pressure
  • Visit adults at risk twice a day or more. Watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Infants and young children will need more frequent watching.
What You Can Do to Help Protect Elderly Relatives and Neighbors

If you have elderly relatives or neighbors, you can help them protect themselves from heat-related stress:
  • Visit older adults at risk at least twice a day and watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke
  • Encourage them to increase their fluid intake by drinking cool, nonalcoholic beverages regardless of their activity level

Warning: If their doctor generally limits the amount of fluid they drink or they are on water pills, they will need to ask their doctor how much they should drink while the weather is hot.
  • Take them to air-conditioned locations if they have transportation problems.
Courtesy of CDC and AOA

Jul 13, 2010

Closing the Prescription Drug Coverage Gap

You Could Be Eligible For A $250 Rebate This Year to Help with your Medicare Drug Costs

The Affordable Care Act passed by Congress and signed by President Obama this year contains some important benefits for Medicare recipients.

If you have Medicare prescription drug coverage, and aren’t already getting Medicare Extra Help, Medicare will automatically send you a one-time $250 rebate check after you reach the coverage gap (also called the “donut hole”) in 2010. This rebate is the first step toward closing the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap.

What is the coverage gap and how will I know if I’ve reached it?

Most Medicare drug plans have a coverage gap. This means that after you and your plan have spent a certain amount of money for covered drugs, you have to pay all costs out-of-pocket for your drugs (up to a limit).

The Explanation of Benefits notice, which your drug plan mails to you each month when you fill a prescription, will tell you how much you’ve spent on covered drugs and whether you’ve entered the coverage gap.

Will I need to do anything to get this rebate check?

No. There are no forms to fill out. Medicare will automatically send a check that’s made out to you. You don’t need to provide any personal information like your Medicare, Social Security, or bank account numbers to get the rebate check. Don’t give your personal information to anyone who calls you about the $250 rebate check. Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) to report anyone who does this. TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.

When will I get the rebate check?

If you reach the coverage gap this year and enter the Part D “donut hole”, you will receive a one-time $250 rebate check if you are not already receiving Medicare Extra Help. These checks will begin to get mailed to beneficiaries starting in mid-June.

Checks will be mailed monthly throughout the year as beneficiaries enter the coverage gap. However, this is a one-time benefit and beneficiaries who qualify will only receive one check after they reach the coverage gap.

What if I don’t get the rebate check when I should?

Beneficiaries who hit the donut hole after the program has begun should expect to receive their check within 45 days. Your rebate may be delayed if Medicare doesn’t have information from your Medicare drug plan showing that you reached the coverage gap in time to include you in the next mailing. You should call your Medicare drug plan to make sure all of your information has been sent to Medicare.

If you don’t get your rebate check, contact Medicare. Individuals receiving Medicare Extra Help will not receive a rebate check.
You can also check to make sure Social Security has your correct home address. Call 1-800-772-1213 or your local Social Security office. TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778.

What’s Next ….Coming in 2011

If you reach the coverage gap in 2011, you may get a 50% discount on your brand name prescription drugs at the time you buy them. Stay tuned for more information from Medicare.

Help us spread the word about this important benefit

And help stop scams against seniors

Remember- there are no forms to fill out to receive this benefit once you qualify for it. Medicare will automatically send a check that’s made out to you.

You don’t need to provide any personal information like your Medicare, Social Security, or bank account numbers to get the rebate check. Don’t give your personal information to anyone who calls you about the $250 rebate check. Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) to report anyone who does this. TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.

Go to to learn more about how Medicare is working with law enforcement to stop scams against seniors.

Have other questions about the $250 rebate check or the Affordable Care Act and Medicare?

Please refer to the brochure Medicare and the New Health Care Law--What it Means for You that Medicare has sent you. You can also visit, or call 1-800-MEDICARE.

Jul 5, 2010

HHS Launches New Consumer Focused Health Care Website,

A Powerful New Information Tool That Will Give Consumers More Control Over Their Own Health Care and Allow Them to Compare Their Coverage Option

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today unveiled an innovative new on-line tool that will help consumers take control of their health care by connecting them to new information and resources that will help them access quality, affordable health care coverage. Called for by the Affordable Care Act, is the first website to provide consumers with both public and private health coverage options tailored specifically for their needs in a single, easy-to-use tool.

" helps consumers take control of their health care and make the choices that are right for them, by putting the power of information at their fingertips,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “For too long, the insurance market has been confusing and hard to navigate. " makes it easy for consumers and small businesses to compare health insurance plans in both the public and the private sector and find other important health care information.”

" is the first central database of health coverage options, combining information about public programs, from Medicare to the new Pre-Existing Conditions Insurance Plan, with information from more than 1,000 private insurance plans. Consumers can receive information about options specific to their life situation and local community.

In addition, the website will be a one-stop-shop for information about the implementation of the Affordable Care Act as well as other health care resources. The website will connect consumers to quality rankings for local health care providers as well as preventive services.

“This website is unlike any government website you have ever seen or used before,” said HHS Chief Technology Officer Todd Park. “It was developed with significant consumer input and is remarkably easy to navigate. This is despite the sheer volume of content it offers consumers: billions of health care choices through the insurance finder and more than 500 pages of new content, all of which is designed to grow with ongoing consumer feedback and as our health care system improves.”

As the health care market transforms, so will " In October, 2010, price estimates for health insurance plans will be available online. In the weeks and months ahead, new information on preventing disease and illness and improving the quality of health care for all Americans will also be posted. The website also includes a series of opportunities where users can indicate whether pages were helpful to them and we will continue to seek user feedback to grow and strengthen the site.

“People need to see what choices are offered, what options cost, and how coverage works in practice,” said Karen Pollitz, Deputy Director for Consumer Support, Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight. “Today " takes an important first step in that direction. In the coming months and years, we will add pricing and plan performance information so that consumers can see and understand and make meaningful choices about their health coverage.”


To Enhance The Quality Of Life For Area Seniors And Their Caregivers, The Central Massachusetts Agency On Aging Will Provide Leadership, Information And Resources, Coordination Of Services And Advocacy.