When I use to attend the Senior Advisory Council meetings as a county commissioner, I would always hear personal stories about how difficult it was to pay for prescription drugs that were medically necesary but unaffordable. Fortunately, in 2003 in a difficult and close vote, the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act was passed. And even though it was controversial, flawed and expensive, it was at least the first step in ensuring that everyone with Medicare, regardless of income, health status, or prescription drug usage, will have access to prescription drug coverage. This new coverage known as Medicare Part D began on January 1, 2006. But most importantly every year between November 15 and December 31 those who are eligible have the chance to enroll in the drug plan of their choice or change to a different drug plan.
Because of this opportunity to change plans, drug plan sponsors will start promoting their drug plans for the coming year during the months of October and November. If you currently have Medicare drug coverage, you will receive in the mail your plan’s “Annual Notice of Change.” This document can seem confusing and many seniors just ignore it. But it is extremely important! Be sure to read it carefully to see what changes will be made to your plan for the coming year and compare this coverage with other plans available in your area. (There are 55 stand alone plans to choose from.) If you decide to keep the same drug plan, you can continue your coverage without doing anything. But you may have many questions as you decide whether to keep or change your drug plan. Jean Hockman at the Area Agency on Aging (298-4101) is trained to answer those questions.
But she will need help to answer the many questions seniors will be asking. The state of Oregon recognizes this need, and will be providing a two day training on October 28th and 29th for anyone who would like to become a Medicare volunteer. This is an opportunity to fill a real need by providing unbiased and reliable information to seniors particularly about Medicare Part D during the enrollment period between November 15 and December 31. (The class is also a great way to learn more about the Medicare system.) You can register for the medicare volunteer training class by calling the Center at 296-4788.
The Senior Center is looking for business and individual sponsors to help financially support the Tuesday Night Music program, so the Center can continue to schedule quality musicians to entertain folks of all ages. An example of the quality is Truman Boler, the always popular one-man-band, who will be playing at the Center next Tuesday the 14th. The Center would like to thank our first sponsor, Heart of Gold Caregivers, for sponsoring Truman. Heart of Gold Caregivers provides caregivers in The Dalles as well as Hood River who are insured, bonded and trained so seniors can live in their homes longer. For more information you can contact them at 541-387-0207. Tonight the Notecrackers are playing which is a week earlier than usual. The music always starts at 7:00 and everybody is welcome. Admission is free and donations are truly appreciated.
For the next presentation of the Next Chapter Lecture Series, we are going to switch tracks and look at a fascinating piece of Wasco County history. Jerry Tanquist local railroad historian will present “The Deschutes River Railroad Race” a historical slide show of the race between two railroad companies competing to build the first rail line between the Columbia River and Bend, OR. Jerry’s last presentation on the Great Sourthern Railroad was well received and I expect this one will be just as informative and entertaining.
A quick reminder about the AARP Driver Safety Class on October 20 and 21. Dick Frost who coordinates the volunteers in the area and teaches the class in Hood River dropped by and reminded me that you can save up to 15% on your insurance rates by taking the class. (You will need to talk to your own insurance carrier to find out the exact savings.) To receive the discount you will need to take the class once every three years if you are between 55 and 69 and once every two years if you are 70 or over. But besides the financial advantage, you can learn more about the traffic laws that have changed over the last several years. Call the Center at 296-4788 to sign up for the class. It can save you some cash and possibly your life.
The Nu-2-U shop is celebrating Bette Dahlberg’s return from her trip to South Dakota by having a $1 a bag sale on Friday the 10th during their regular hours from 10:00 – 1:30. While the inflation is increasing and financial giants are staggering, you can still find a very good deal at the Nu-2-U shop. Stop by and say hi. Bette and Martha will be looking for you.
Well it has been busy around the Center. Which is good. Sunday night was the last stop for the Fellowship of Churches Progressive Dinner with Rob and Shirley Bagge providing the fine entertainment. It was a huge success and everyone is looking forward to next year. Monday morning representatives of the local ARC met at the Center to plan for their Halloween Party from 7:00 – 10:00 on the 24th. On Tuesday the “Yes, You Can Draw!” class starts for a six week run and we are working on the final details for a trip to Portland to see “The Singing Christmas Tree”. Which is all good. The Center feels alive and busy as we navigate into the autumn months. So until we meet again, keep warm, keep busy and keep your hands clean.
“Take care of all your memories. For you cannot relive them.” Bob Dylan