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Confused about Medicare options? There's help for you in Pinellas and Pasco

Confused about Medicare options? There's help for you

The oldest of the baby boomers are turning 65 this year, the eye-opening age of Medicare eligibility. As the reality of dealing with Medicare looms large, many people are uncertain about their Medicare options and the processes for enrollment. The Florida Department of Elder Affairs' Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders, also known as SHINE, in partnership with the Area Agency on Aging, is prepared to provide assistance.

SHINE is an unbiased information and counseling resource that trains volunteers to provide free, confidential health care advice to Florida's seniors and the disabled, particularly about Medicare.

In Pinellas and Pasco counties, where one in every five residents is age 65 or older, SHINE serves seniors, retirees, the disabled and other Medicare beneficiaries by providing educational presentations, informational materials and an opportunity to speak one-on-one with a trained Medicare counselor.

Individuals new to Medicare may sign up during the initial enrollment period, which is the seven-month period (birth month plus the three months before and after) surrounding his or her 65th birthday. During this period, beneficiaries can enroll in Medicare Parts A, B and D, or they may alternatively choose to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan with or without drug coverage.

All current and soon-to-be Medicare beneficiaries are invited to make an appointment for one-on-one SHINE counseling or enrollment assistance at one of the following North Pinellas locations: Clearwater Aging Well Center, 1501 N Belcher Road; Dunedin Library, 223 Douglas Ave.; and the Social Security Office for Pinellas Park, 10200 49th St. N. Appointments can be made by contacting the Area Agency on Aging of Pasco-Pinellas Inc. toll-free at 1-800-963-5337. Medicare beneficiaries who do not take advantage of their initial enrollment period may do so during the now earlier annual election period from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, with coverage effective on Jan. 1, 2012.

The Canadian Drugstore is participating in National Immunization Awareness Month by helping spread the word about the importance of keeping immunizations up to date for adults as well as children.

Adults should keep up with their immunizations to maintain good health not only for themselves, but also for those under their care.

William Hepscher, director of the Canadian Drugstore, recommends that clients talk with their physician at their next checkup to determine what immunizations they may need and to make arrangements to get them.

Adults should consider the following recommendations:

• Get a flu shot every year. The seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others from the flu.

• Get a Td booster shot every 10 years to protect against tetanus and diphtheria.

• If you are under age 65 and haven't received it yet, consider the Tdap shot instead of your next Td booster. Tdap protects against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough.

• If you are age 60 or older, you may need a shot to prevent shingles.

• If you are age 65 or older, get a pneumonia shot. This shot is sometimes called PPSV. Most people only need to get the shot once, and checking with your doctor is the best way to determine your situation.

Many shots for adults are covered under the new federal Affordable Care Act. Depending on insurance plans, shots may be available at no cost. The uninsured can check with the Florida Department of Health to find a free or low-cost vaccination program.

• • •

The North Pinellas MS Self Help Group will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Suncoast Hospice, 2675 Tampa Road, Palm Harbor.

Sarah Woodward of BioDerm Inc. will introduce Liberty 3.0, the new external urinary management device for men. Robert A. Garguilo of Custom Mobility Inc. will discuss his company's accessible vans and wheelchairs.

Space is limited. To reserve a seat call (727) 698-4346 or (727) 365-0987.

• • •

A free dementia education presentation and cooking demonstration with Dr. Kimberly Bender of Bender Chiropractic Center and Chef Erwin of E & E Stakeout Grill in Belleair Bluffs will be 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Arden Courts Alzheimer's Memory Care Community of Largo, 300 Highland Ave. NE, Largo.

According to recent studies, people who eat a "brain healthy" diet have less chance of developing mild cognitive impairment, sometimes called borderline dementia. During this seminar, Dr. Bender will discuss what kinds of foods can be considered "brain healthy," what effects "brain healthy" foods have on the body, and serving ideas to incorporate these foods into an everyday diet. All attendees will be able to sample the food.

Pre-registration is required. Seating is limited. Adult day care will be provided by qualified staff; ask for this service when making the reservation.

Call (727) 559-8411, or e-mail

Seminars, classes, support groups

Recovery International: Abraham Low Self-Help System, a weekly support group for people suffering from anxiety, panic attacks and symptoms caused by fear and anger, meets at these times and locations: 1 p.m. Tuesdays, Lakeview Community Church, 475 East Lake Road N, East Lake, (727) 942-4095; 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Grace Lutheran Church, 1812 Highland Ave., Clearwater, (727) 942-9008; and 1:30 p.m. Saturdays, St. Paul's United Methodist Church, 1199 Highland Ave., Clearwater, (727) 586-2585,` or leave a message at (727) 525-1749. Free, but offerings are appreciated.

alzheimer's caregivers support group: Meets weekly 9:30 a.m. Mondays, Palm Harbor Community Activity Center, 1500 16th St. (727) 787-1837.

take off pounds sensibly (tops): Weight loss group meetings are 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. Thursdays at First Baptist Church of Ozona-Palm Harbor, 610 Pennsylvania Ave., Ozona. The group meets in the building in the back. Call (727) 786-1484 or (727) 785-9564.

Food addicts in recovery anonymous: 7 p.m. Tuesdays, (727) 501-2125, and 8:30 a.m. Saturdays, (727) 786-3113. Both at Clearwater Community Church, Room 103, 2897 Belcher Road, Dunedin. Visit

NAR-ANON FAMILY GROUP MEETINGS: 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Mondays, except holidays, at Crystal Beach Community Center, 517 Crystal Beach Ave., Crystal Beach; 8 p.m. Tuesdays at First United Methodist Church, Educational Building, 421 Main St., Dunedin; and 7 p.m. Wednesdays at St. Paul's Methodist Church, Room 102, 1199 Highland Ave., Largo. E-mail or visit

the mid pinellas brain trauma SUPPORT GROUP: 6:30 p.m. today, which meets the first and third Thursday of every month, St. Paul United Methodist Church, Christian Life Enrichment Center, Room 201, Second Floor, 1498 Rosary Road, Largo. Call Kathy Kiley at (727) 442-1819, e-mail or visit

Health news should be mailed to Nova Beall at 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756, faxed to (727) 445-4119 or e-mailed to

Confused about Medicare options? There's help for you in Pinellas and Pasco 08/31/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 31, 2011 5:34pm]
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