News and Resources for 2008 Older Americans Month

Alzheimer’s Resource Available

Individuals and families coping with a new diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can now obtain basic information about the disease in just 10 minutes. The Alliance for Aging Research, in cooperation with David Shenk (author of The Forgetting ) and with the support of the MetLife Foundation, has produced four short films about the disease. The films—each of which is about two minutes long—provide an excellent overview of the disease, progress toward a cure, and resources for people with Alzheimer’s and their families. 

Visit Five Pocket Films to view the films, free of charge.

Due to time constraints, these films do not cover advance care planning in detail. Clients may need help differentiating between a durable power of attorney and a health care agent; drafting a living will; or considering whether long-term care insurance (should they qualify) is appropriate for their individual situations. Nonetheless, these films effectively address many topics relevant to people coping with a new diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

Financial Assistance for Medicare Beneficiaries

Do you have clients on Medicare who can’t afford their prescription drugs or other treatments? Medicare Part D beneficiaries may be eligible for up to $3,600 per year toward the cost of their prescription drugs. Moreover, people who pay premiums for Medicare Part A may be eligible for one of four Medicare Savings Programs. Depending on income eligibility, these programs provide up to $1,100 toward Part A and B premiums, deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance for Medicare.

See Extra Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs for information and forms.

Older Americans’ Mental Health Week 2008

Once again, NASW is proud to promote Older Americans’ Mental Health Week (May 25-31, 2008) in partnership with OWL—The Voice of Midlife and Older Women. Activities for this year’s observance include a May 15 Capitol Hill briefing, cosponsored by NASW. As part of a panel addressing mental health and aging issues, NASW staff will describe the limits of Medicare coverage for mental health treatment and the Association’s advocacy for mental health parity.

As part of last year’s observance, OWL conducted a poll to assess the knowledge and attitudes about mental health and aging among nursing assistants, physician assistants, and physical therapists. The poll showed nursing assistants held the most misperceptions about mental health and aging and, furthermore, that these staff did not feel confident in their ability to recognize or address signs of mental health problems in the older adults they served. Based on the results of this poll, OWL is developing and implementing training sessions regarding mental health and aging for nursing assistants in select parts of the country. OWL’s work highlights the importance of interdisciplinary teamwork and of social work’s role in behavioral health and aging practice. 

Consider what activities you can undertake in your own setting to educate your colleagues about behavioral health concerns for older adults—and don’t forget to solicit your colleagues’ input regarding those concerns!

Learn more about Older Americans’ Mental Health Week.