WOONSOCKET, R.I. /PRNewswire/ — Aetna®, a CVS Health® company (NYSE: CVS), announces our 2024 Medicare products ― the largest Medicare offering in our history1 ― featuring more choices, flexible benefit allowances, a strong provider network and further simplified medical and prescription drug plans that support members’ overall health and well-being. We included dental, vision and hearing benefits on every Medicare Advantage (MA) plan, reduced prescription drug costs across our Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug (MAPD) plan portfolio and enriched our Extra Benefits Card and over-the-counter (OTC) benefits on many plans. We’ll also offer new MA plan options and expanded money-saving benefits for individuals who qualify for a Dual Eligible Special Needs Plan (D-SNP) or Extra Help.
“Our experience shows Medicare consumers want more than just a one-size-fits-all approach to health care,” said Terri Swanson, president of Aetna Medicare. “They want personalized plans that fit their unique needs and budgets, and flexible benefits that matter most to them. And Aetna kept this top of mind when developing plans for 2024. Our brokers and service teams are energized by our 2024 Medicare product portfolio and stand ready to guide consumers across the country to choose a plan that’s right for them.”
A pioneer in the Medicare industry, Aetna has served Medicare beneficiaries since 1966, when it paid the nation’s first Medicare claim. Aetna now serves nearly 11 million Medicare members nationwide, including 3.4 million currently enrolled in an Aetna MA plan.
New and expanded individual MA plans to support diverse needs
We made significant investments in our 2024 plan benefits that will offer members more choices, added value and greater flexibility to help with everyday expenses and empower them to achieve their personal health goals. Plan highlights include:
- Expanded footprint: For 2024, Aetna will offer MAPD plans in 46 states plus Washington, D.C. We added 255 new counties across the country, providing 2.2 million more Medicare-eligible beneficiaries access to an Aetna plan. In total, Aetna will offer MAPD plans in 2,269 counties in 2024, accessible by 58 million Medicare-eligible beneficiaries.2
- $0 premium plan options: Aetna estimates 84% of the Medicare-eligible beneficiaries in the U.S. will have access to a $0 monthly premium Aetna MA plan.3
- Expanded D-SNP products: For those who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid benefits, we’ll expand our D-SNP offerings to 433 new counties across 31 states, including a new market in Maryland and new preferred provider organization (PPO) plan options in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and Utah. All D-SNPs offer $0 Part D drugs, dental, vision, hearing and an Extra Benefits Card with a new Extra Supports Wallet.4 It features an enhanced allowance for members to spend on things they need the most, like healthy foods, utilities, rent/mortgage, OTC items, gas, transportation, personal care items and pet care supplies.5 On select D-SNPs, members can earn an additional $30 per month in their Extra Supports Wallet by selecting a high value primary care provider (PCP).
- Expanded options for people who get Extra Help: Aetna offers Value PlusSM MA plans6 that provide additional value for individuals who qualify for Extra Help — also known as Part D Low-Income Subsidy (LIS). These plans feature low premiums, dental, vision, hearing, SilverSneakers® fitness benefit, OTC allowance and $0 copays for in-network primary care visits and labs. Through our new Aetna Assist program, those with Extra Help may qualify for $0 plan premiums and additional benefits like $0 Part D drugs and an Extra Benefits Card. Aetna Assist packages vary by plan. The Inflation Reduction Act expanded eligibility for the Extra Help program, qualifying more Medicare beneficiaries for the program in 2024.7 Aetna stands ready to help these individuals take advantage of those benefits.
- Expanded Aetna Medicare Eagle® MA-only plans: We’ll expand these MA-only plans to 43 states (adding Arkansas) and 1,591 counties — reaching more than 6.3 million veterans over age 65 in 2024. These plans offer additional benefits for veterans or individuals who already have prescription drug coverage.8 All 2024 Aetna Medicare Eagle plans will feature a $0 monthly plan premium, $0 primary care copay (including walk-in clinics), dental, vision, hearing, OTC allowance and a SilverSneakers fitness benefit. These plans also offer $0 copays for labs, colonoscopies and routine eye and hearing exams. Most MA-only plans include a Part B premium reduction benefit.
- New Aetna Medicare SmartFit plans: These are designed for prescription drug plan customers considering switching to a Medicare Advantage plan. These $0 monthly premium plans include dental, vision and hearing. There is also a variety of no-cost benefits like $0 in-network primary care visits and labs and $0 Tier 1 generics at preferred pharmacies and through mail order. Additionally, these plans help consumers stay healthy with a SilverSneakers fitness membership and a fitness reimbursement benefit of $600-$1,200 annually for activities like pickleball, golf and more.
- Expanded Institutional Special Needs Plan (I-SNP) products: In continued collaboration with Longevity Health, Aetna will offer new I-SNPs in Ohio and New York and expand our footprint in Pennsylvania. These plans are specifically designed for people living in nursing homes. They include prescription drug coverage and provide enhanced access to on-site care in the facility. Members receive additional benefits tailored to help improve their quality of life by caring for their unique medical, social and emotional needs.
More choices and greater flexibility, with benefits that matter most to members
Medicare can be confusing. So we simplified our plans and invested in those benefits that are most important to our members. To make staying healthy easier, we looked closely at benefit details and made meaningful improvements, like replacing frozen foods with freshly prepared meals. Highlights include:
- Strengthened core benefits: Every county where Aetna will offer plans will have options that include a $0 monthly premium, $0 primary care copay, $0 copays for Tier 1 drugs, OTC allowance, dental, vision and hearing.
- Improved dental, vision and hearing benefits: Every 2024 Aetna MA plan will include dental,9 vision and hearing benefits, ensuring all members can maintain their dental health and access corrective eyewear and hearing aids.
- Dental: In 2024, all of our plans include a dental benefit.9 Most plans include annual allowances for things like dentures, crowns and more. Allowances vary by plan. For 2024, we streamlined our dental designs to promote simplicity, strengthen coverage, reduce member cost sharing and improve member experience.
- Vision: In 2024, all plans have a $0 routine eye exam benefit and an eyewear benefit. Eyewear allowances vary by plan.
- Hearing: In 2024, all plans have a $0 routine hearing exam benefit and a hearing aid benefit.
- Aetna Medicare Extra Benefits Card: All D-SNPs will include a preloaded debit card with a new Extra Supports Wallet4 featuring an allowance and more ways to spend it. The flexible allowance can be used to buy healthy foods, OTC items,10 gas, transportation, personal care items and pet care supplies.5 It can also be used to help pay for utilities (including water, electricity, gas, phone and internet service) and assist with rent or mortgage payments. The card can be swiped at an expanded network of participating retailers for OTC items and healthy foods. Value Plus plans with the Extra Benefits Card provide an allowance to those who receive Extra Help. In certain markets, members can earn an additional allowance by selecting a high value PCP.
- Aetna Medicare Payment Card: We’ll expand this payment card offering to more plans and states and make it more convenient. Qualifying members will receive a quarterly allowance to use toward either out-of-pocket expenses for in-network care, select OTC wellness items or both. Members whose benefit includes an allowance for OTC items can buy a wide selection of items at any CVS Pharmacy® retail location11 or place orders online through OTC Health Solutions, a CVS Health company.
- Expanded fitness benefits: We made enhancements to our fitness benefits to help our members stay physically and mentally active, so they can keep enjoying their favorite activities as they age:
- SilverSneakers and Apple Fitness+™: We’ll continue to offer a SilverSneakers fitness memberships to all individual MA members at no additional cost.12 Through SilverSneakers, members have access to over 15,000 fitness locations, as well as exercise programs outside of traditional gyms, such as recreation centers, malls and parks. Individuals can also connect to virtual resources, including mental enrichment and well-being classes. Apple Fitness+ is also included in the SilverSneakers membership at no additional cost. Fitness+ is an award-winning fitness and wellness service with workouts and meditations designed to be welcoming to all and help people live a healthier day. Fitness+ offers 12 different workout types, from high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to meditation, so there’s something for everyone.
- Fitness reimbursement: New for 2024, an enhanced and expanded fitness reimbursement gives members new ways to stay on top of their personal fitness and wellness goals. Members can use their fitness reimbursement allowance on the activities they enjoy most, including pickleball, golf, bowling, swimming and entrance fees for national and state parks. And to make staying healthy even easier, we also added fitness supplies, athletic shoes and more. In 2024 more plans will include this benefit.
- Fresh meals: New for 2024, the meal benefit will now provide freshly prepared (not frozen) precooked meals delivered to members’ homes upon discharge from an inpatient hospital stay or skilled nursing facility.
- $0 cost-shares on select benefits: To ensure important services are affordable, we continue to expand services available at no additional cost to the member. In 2024, we have plans that offer $0 copay for primary care visits and labs. New for 2024, all plans will provide $0 copay for preventive and diagnostic colonoscopies at in-network providers.
- Stable or reduced member out-of-pocket costs limits: All Aetna MA plans include maximum out-of-pocket cost protection for covered plan services. We’ll keep member in-network maximum out-of-pocket costs limits the same or decrease them in 75% of our individual MA plans for 2024.
Continued reductions in prescription drug costs across the MAPD portfolio
We continued to make changes to our formularies (drug lists) for 2024 to reduce cost and obstacles to accessing medications. These changes also help our members be more adherent with their medications. Highlights include:
- $0 deductibles: 100% of MAPD members will enjoy a $0 deductible on all Tier 1 and Tier 2 drugs. We also have plans with a $0 deductible on all tiered drugs (Tiers 1–5).
- $0 copays at preferred network pharmacies: All of our MAPD plans will offer $0 copays on Tier 1 drugs. We also have plans with $0 copays on Tier 1 and Tier 2 drugs, for 30-, 60- or 100-day supplies.
- Pharmacy network: We have MAPD plans that offer prescription drug coverage with access to nearly 66,000 network pharmacies, with 24,000 preferred options offering additional savings.
- 100-day supply at no extra cost: All MAPD plans will offer up to a 100-day supply13 for drugs on Tiers 1–4 at both retail and mail-order pharmacies. Members who choose to use our preferred mail-order pharmacy to fill their prescriptions can count on convenient, no-cost standard shipping. Extended-day supplies may save members money and help them stay on their medication treatment program.
- Tier 1/Tier 2 coverage gap: We have MAPD plans that provide robust Tier 1 and Tier 2 gap coverage at the same cost-share as in the initial coverage phase, allowing predictable copays through the donut hole and reducing the possibility of members reaching the catastrophic phase.
- $0 copays and $0 deductibles on D-SNPs: All D-SNPs will share one set of common features — robust drug coverage, $0 deductibles and $0 prescription drug copays. Members simply need to qualify for D-SNP enrollment to receive this benefit.
- Insulin: Members won’t pay more than $35 for a one-month supply of each insulin product covered by our plan.
- Vaccines: Many covered Part D vaccines will be available at $0 copay for Medicare beneficiaries.
Innovative programs and money-saving benefits through CVS Health
As a CVS Health company, Aetna offers a unique set of assets that enables us to bring care closer to home. We’ll provide individual MA members access to convenient and affordable benefits and programs in their communities, including:
- Nationally contracted retail health clinics, including MinuteClinic®: Members in PPO and health maintenance organization (HMO) plans that do not require a PCP can visit either one of the nationally contracted retail health clinics, including MinuteClinic locations, and pay the same copay as a regular visit to a PCP.14 With over 1,000 locations across 36 states and Washington, D.C., and virtual on-demand care available, MinuteClinic offers convenient access for sick care, prevention and wellness services, and management for chronic conditions. For patients over 65, MinuteClinic delivers age-friendly care via the 4Ms framework: what matters, medication, mentation and mobility. Located in select CVS Pharmacy® and Target stores, MinuteClinic locations are open seven days a week.
- OTC benefit: We’ll make our OTC benefit offered through OTC Health Solutions, a CVS Health company, available to more members and will increase the OTC allowance amount on MA plans. Members can choose certain health care products and order by phone or online for home delivery. New for 2024, they can also use their benefit in-store at all standalone CVS Pharmacy or Navarro Discount Pharmacy® retail locations across 48 states, up from 39 states in 2023. Catalogs are available in all stores and covered items are easy to identify throughout the store. Members only need to present their member ID card to use their OTC allowance. Select Aetna plans will offer an OTC kit mailed directly to the member’s home. These kits contain curated OTC items that help support our members’ health.
- Healthy Home Visits through Signify Health: All MA plans will offer an annual healthy home visit at no extra cost. It includes a comprehensive health risk assessment and non-invasive physical exam from the comfort of the member’s home. The clinician will also evaluate the home environment to identify social support needs and risks that could result in early detection of health problems. These home visits are provided through Signify Health, a CVS Health company.
- Oak Street Health primary care network: The acquisition of Oak Street Health this year enables us to offer more coordinated and connected care ― especially in underserved communities. Oak Street Health’s innovative care model provides comprehensive primary care with a focus on prevention and wellness. Aetna MA members will have access to all Oak Street Health primary care clinic locations across the country as part of the extensive Aetna provider network.
- Fall prevention: We continue to expand our fall prevention benefit through CVS Pharmacy to additional states and plans. For 2024, all D-SNPs (except the NY FIDE plan) will include a fall prevention benefit. In select MA plans, eligible members will receive an annual allowance for certain home and bathroom safety items that may help lower the risk of injury from falls in the home.
- Pharmacist panels: We’ll connect members who are CVS Pharmacy customers with their local CVS pharmacist. They can deliver personalized advice to drive medication adherence, offer alternatives for high-risk medications, recommend screenings and administer immunizations. Pharmacists can also connect members with recommended health plan resources and support their enrollment into care management programs.
- CVS Health Resources For Living® (RFL): This program helps address loneliness and other social needs by connecting members with important community resources, such as transportation, housing, food programs, caregiver support and utility assistance, based on individual member needs. RFL serves as an early point of intervention for the many issues that affect our members’ physical and mental health.
Robust standalone prescription drug plans
The Aetna standalone prescription drug plans (PDPs) serve 6.1 million members. In 2024, Aetna Medicare will continue to offer three individual, standalone plans. SilverScript® SmartSaver (PDP) will feature an average monthly premium of $11.19, along with $0 copays for Tier 1 generics at preferred pharmacies and a reduced deductible from 2023. SilverScript Choice (PDP) will be available to members with full Extra Help for a $0 monthly plan premium in 21 states and D.C., while SilverScript Plus (PDP) has the most robust prescription drug coverage of our PDPs including $0 Tier 1 and $0 Tier 2 generics at preferred pharmacies. All three plans are available in all 50 states and D.C.15
Competitive Medicare Supplement and ancillary plan options
To complete our portfolio of products, Aetna also offers Medicare Supplement plans. With more than 1.4 million members, our competitively priced individual Medicare Supplement plans use a simplified underwriting process. We also offer popular dental, vision and hearing products in 40 states. Our ancillary plan options cover 45 states and often offer members personalized, add-on protection to their individual Medicare plans. This includes plans that provide life insurance coverage, dental, vision and hearing coverage, benefits paid directly to them after being diagnosed with cancer, or for hospital stays, and home or skilled nursing facility recovery care.
Visit AetnaMedicare.com to learn more about our 2024 Aetna Medicare plans. Or call 1-844-588-0041 (TTY: 711), 7 days a week, 8 AM to 8 PM. The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period runs from October 15 through December 7, 2023. A licensed agent may answer your call.
1 Aetna filed 747 individual MA plans with CMS for 2024. This represents the largest number of plans in our history.
2This number includes the Aetna Joint Venture in Minnesota (with Allina Health).
3Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Enrollment data, August 2023.
4Extra Supports Wallet not included with IN and CA plans.
5Pet care supplies not included with NJ plans.
6Known as Value plan for Allina Health │ Aetna Medicare.
7U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Fact sheet: Biden-Harris administration announces new tools to lower prescription drug costs for low-income seniors and people with disabilities. June 12, 2023. Accessed September 18, 2023.
8These plans do not include prescription drug coverage. They are available to all Medicare-eligible individuals and could be a good fit for beneficiaries who already have prescription drug coverage at least as good as Medicare Part D.
9Excluding NY I-SNP.
10OTC items are only included in the Extra Supports Wallet for D-SNPs and limited plans.
11Excludes CVS Pharmacy in Target locations.
12Exception: SilverSneakers is not available with the Aetna Medicare Longevity Plan (I-SNP).
13Not all medications are dispensable in 100-day supply due to unbreakable package sizing (e.g., inhalers), or as a result of being a controlled substance.
14Members have a choice of providers and can elect to go to their PCP or a nationally contracted clinic of their choice.
About CVS Health
CVS Health® is the leading health solutions company, delivering care like no one else can. We reach more people and improve the health of communities across America through our local presence, digital channels and over 300,000 dedicated colleagues – including more than 40,000 physicians, pharmacists, nurses and nurse practitioners. Wherever and whenever people need us, we help them with their health – whether that’s managing chronic diseases, staying compliant with their medications or accessing affordable health and wellness services in the most convenient ways. We help people navigate the health care system – and their personal health care – by improving access, lowering costs and being a trusted partner for every meaningful moment of health. And we do it all with heart, each and every day. Follow @CVSHealth on social media.
Aetna, a CVS Health business, serves an estimated 36 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental and behavioral health plans, and medical management capabilities, Medicaid health care management services, workers’ compensation administrative services and health information technology products and services. Aetna’s customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, health care providers, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates. For more information, visit Aetna.com.
Aetna Medicare is a HMO, PPO plan with a Medicare contract. Our DSNPs also have contracts with State Medicaid programs. Enrollment in our plans depends on contract renewal. Plan features and availability may vary by service area. The formulary /or pharmacy network may change at any time. You will receive notice when necessary. The Aetna Medicare pharmacy network includes limited lower cost, preferred pharmacies in Suburban Arizona, Rural California, Urban Kansas, Rural Michigan, Suburban Michigan, Urban Michigan, Urban Missouri, Rural North Dakota, Suburban Utah, Suburban West Virginia and Suburban Wyoming. The lower costs advertised in our plan materials for these pharmacies may not be available at the pharmacy you use. For up-to-date information about our network pharmacies, including whether there are any lower-cost preferred pharmacies in your area, members please call the number on your ID card, non-members please call 1-833-278-3928 (TTY: 711) or consult the online pharmacy directory. Other pharmacies and providers are available in our network. Out-of-network/non-contracted providers are under no obligation to treat plan members, except in emergency situations. Please call our customer service number or see your Evidence of Coverage for more information, including the cost-sharing that applies to out-of-network services. Participating health care providers are independent contractors and are neither agents nor employees of Aetna. The availability of any particular provider cannot be guaranteed, and provider network composition is subject to change. Eligibility for the Model Benefit or Reward and Incentive (RI) Programs under the Value-Based Insurance Design (VBID) Model is not assured and will be determined by Aetna after enrollment, based on relevant criteria (e.g., clinical diagnoses, eligibility criteria, participation in a disease state management program). If your plan’s Extra Benefits Card includes roll-over, any unused amount will rollover into the next month/quarter. The monthly/quarterly amount can be rolled over through the end of the plan year but will not carry over into the next plan year. For mail-order, you can get prescription drugs shipped to your home through the network mail-order delivery program. Typically, mail-order drugs arrive within 10 days. You can call 1–866–235–5660 (TTY: 711), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, if you do not receive your mail-order drugs within this timeframe. Members may have the option to sign-up for automated mail-order delivery.
SilverScript is a Prescription Drug Plan with a Medicare contract marketed through Aetna Medicare. Enrollment in SilverScript depends on contract renewal.
Aetna, CVS Pharmacy and MinuteClinic, LLC (which either operates or provides certain management support services to MinuteClinic-branded retail health clinics) are part of the CVS Health family of companies.
Resources For Living is the brand name used for products and services offered through the Aetna group of subsidiary companies.
SilverSneakers is a registered trademark of Tivity Health, Inc. ©2023 Tivity Health, Inc. All rights reserved.
Apple Fitness+ is a trademark of Apple Inc.
©2023 Aetna Inc.
SOURCE CVS Health
Study finds risk factors for severe COVID-19 cases in children
UT Southwestern researchers show living in the Southern U.S., having preexisting conditions linked to more serious illness
Newswise — DALLAS – Nov. 21, 2023 – Children who had preexisting health problems or who lived in the Southern United States had a higher risk for severe health outcomes from acute COVID-19 infections, according to researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center. The results, reported in the journal Hospital Pediatrics that is published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, also showed the importance of vaccinations in reducing the severity of illness for those who became infected.
“While receiving the COVID-19 vaccines did not mean that our little patients would not get sick from the virus, vaccines did protect them from more severe outcomes such as death and intensive care admissions. Protecting your children by immunizing them is a good thing, especially if your child has a preexisting condition, such as heart disease or asthma,” said one of the study’s authors, Christoph Lehmann, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics and in the Lyda Hill Department of Bioinformatics, Director of the Clinical Informatics Center, and a member of the Peter O’Donnell Jr. School of Public Health at UT Southwestern.
The national study analyzed records from 165,437 children age 18 and younger who tested positive for COVID-19 between January 2020 and January 2022. About 1.8% were hospitalized without complication, 1.8% were admitted to intensive care or needed intensive respiratory support, and 31 children died.
The researchers found that children in the Southern United States were more than three times as likely to have more severe complications compared with other areas of the country.
“It matters where you live,” Dr. Lehmann noted. “While we do not know what causes children in the South to have worse outcomes, our findings call for an exploration of possible causes – such as weather and climate, immunization rates, public health or government messaging, mandates, and closures.”
The study also found that among children under age 5, those younger than 2 years old were at the highest risk for severe outcomes. This finding contradicts initial anecdotal observations suggesting that infants were not as prone to severe disease with COVID-19 as they were from other respiratory viruses such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
“While this wasn’t surprising to us – smaller airways are disproportionately affected by respiratory illness – it does mean that we have to be more vigilant when the little ones acquire COVID-19,” Dr. Lehmann added.
Finally, the study found that those with multiple chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease and lung disease, were more than twice as likely to have severe complications following COVID-19 infection, and the more chronic conditions they had, the higher the risk.
Other UTSW researchers who contributed to this study include lead author Robert W. Turer, M.D., Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine; first author and medical student Milan Ho, B.S.; Trish M. Perl, M.D., M.Sc., Professor of Internal Medicine; Zachary M. Most, M.D., M.Sc., Assistant Professor of Pediatrics; Bhaskar Thakur, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Family and Community Medicine, Emergency Medicine, and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and a member of the O’Donnell School of Public Health; John J. Hanna, M.D., Assistant Instructor of Internal Medicine; Marlon I. Diaz, B.S., Sameh Saleh, M.D., Madison Pickering, M.S., and Richard J. Medford, M.D., all with the Clinical Informatics Center; medical student Julia A. Casazza, B.S.; and Postdoctoral Research Fellow Alexander P. Radunsky, Ph.D.
Dr. Lehmann holds the Willis C. Maddrey, M.D. Distinguished Professorship in Clinical Science. Dr. Perl, a member of the O’Donnell School of Public Health, holds the H. Ben and Isabelle T. Decherd Chair in Internal Medicine in Honor of Henry M. Winans, Sr., M.D.
This study was funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health (UL1 TR003163).
About UT Southwestern Medical Center
UT Southwestern, one of the nation’s premier academic medical centers, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty members have received six Nobel Prizes and include 26 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 20 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 13 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators. The full-time faculty of more than 3,100 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide care in more than 80 specialties to more than 120,000 hospitalized patients, more than 360,000 emergency room cases, and oversee nearly 5 million outpatient visits a year.
Source: UT Southwestern Medical Center
Family Caregivers are Filling the Gap
More than 53 million Americans serve as “informal” caregivers filling critical roles that make independent living possible for people with disabilities.
MIDDLEVILLE, MICHIGAN, UNITED STATES /EINPresswire.com/ — In the wake of a direct care worker shortage, more than 53 million Americans serve as “informal” caregivers filling critical roles that make independent living possible for people with disabilities and chronic health conditions. However, family caregiving can take a financial, emotional, and physical toll on those performing the unpaid work. Below, we explore five opportunities to help family caregivers build sustainable and strong caregiving relationships.
Family caregivers are critical resources in the quest to promote independence and autonomy among people with disabilities, and they deserve all the support our communities can offer.”— Steve Locke
Determine Whether Payment is Possible
In some cases, family caregivers can receive financial compensation for their caregiving. Medicaid’s Self-Directed Services program, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Veteran-Directed Care program, certain Home and Community-Based Services programs, many long-term care insurance plans, and even some employers offer stipends to informal caregivers providing necessary care.
Make a Plan for Respite Care
Creating a respite care plan helps caregivers build in time on a regular basis to take a break from caregiving and pass their responsibilities on to a trustworthy provider. The AARP outlines the process for creating a plan, including identifying what you and your loved one need and who could provide support. Professional respite care resources are available through the Senior Corps, local Area Agency on Aging, and Elder Helpers.
Find Peer Support
Up to 40% of informal caregivers report that caregiving makes them feel alone, yet there are many others experiencing the same scenarios and connecting can help caregivers cope. Your local Center for Independent Living can connect you with caregiving support groups, the Area Agency on Aging can provide assistance, or even nonprofit or religious groups like Courage to Caregivers that link volunteer peer mentors with caregivers.
Ask for Help!
The digital age has brought a wealth of apps that make it easier for caregivers to communicate their needs and get other friends and family members on board to help. Whether you need alternative transportation to a medical appointment or would love a friend to drop off dinner a few days per month, apps like Carely, Caring Village, and LotsaHands provide tools to help caregivers coordinate caregiving responsibilities among family and friends.
Pay Attention to your Mental Health
Up to 4 in 10 caregivers report that they “never relax,” and one survey revealed that more than half of caregivers polled had experienced suicidal ideation during the COVID pandemic. Caregiving while experiencing this level of mental anguish is dangerous for both the caregiver and the patient. In cases like this, finding an alternate source of care at least part of the time is necessary. Individuals in crisis can call 988 for 24/7 mental health support and the Caregiver Action Network can provide a listening ear, resources, and assistance.
Family caregivers are critical resources in the quest to promote independence and autonomy among people with disabilities, and they deserve all the support our communities can offer. As organizations like MiSILC advocate for formal and informal caregivers at the highest levels, nonprofits and community resources can provide the services necessary for effective, sustainable caregiving. Learn more about our work at MiSILC.org.
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Stay Balanced this Holiday Season with Health-Ade Kombucha
Celebrate the return of a seasonal favorite plus a new limited-edition collab
LOS ANGELES /PRNewswire/ — Health-Ade, makers of delicious, bubbly beverages that support a happy and healthy gut, are celebrating feeling good from the inside out this holiday season. A perfect swap for alcohol or soda, Health-Ade Kombucha’s living probiotics help keep your gut in balance while enjoying the season’s festivities and indulging in your favorite holiday foods.
To celebrate the season, Health-Ade Kombucha has launched its seasonal holiday flavor, Holiday Cheers, which expertly blends notes of ginger, vanilla, allspice, and cacao for the perfect sip to spread the cheer all season long. This winter staple is a perfect accompaniment for sipping by the fire, enjoying as a festive treat, or even as a delicious probiotic hostess gift for those holiday parties and celebrations. Every bottle of Health-Ade’s Holiday Cheers Kombucha will help you celebrate the seasonal flavors you love, while supporting a happy and healthy gut.
“Health-Ade is a delicious, easy way to support your gut health during the holiday season,” says Claire Chewning, Health-Ade’s Registered Dietitian Advisor. “Good nutrition is all about adding IN, not restricting unnecessarily. Adding in sources of fermented foods and probiotics, like kombucha, can increase the number of good bacteria in your gut. For many, this can help manage symptoms of bloating and other digestive discomforts. For another gut-happy practice, you can also consider swapping alcohol for a few fun Health-Ade Kombucha mocktails. Cheers to a delicious and nourished holiday season!”
Special for this season, Health-Ade has partnered with fellow Los Angeles-based brand Mar Mar to create a limited edition Holiday Minis candle set. The Mar Mar x Health-Ade Kombucha collaboration features three best-selling Mar Mar scents reimagined with a Health-Ade twist. Titled The Bold, The Rebel, and The Optimist these 2oz votives are wrapped in Health-Ade’s beloved and recognizable color schemes to make the perfect gift set for anyone on your list and a great companion to your Health-Ade Kombucha selection.
You can purchase the limited-edition candle set and Holiday Cheers flavor now on health-ade.com for yourself and all of the Health-Ade Kombucha lovers on your holiday gift list. The Mini Candle set retails for $60, or you can bundle with your favorite case of Health-Ade for a $10 discount. Holiday Cheers can also be found at select retailers nationwide, while supplies last.
About Health-Ade Kombucha
Health-Ade creates feel-good, bubbly beverages with gut health benefits so you can follow your gut and show the world what you’re made of. The brand got started in the Brentwood Farmers Market in 2012 selling its flagship kombucha drinks. Instantly gaining a cult following in Southern California, Health-Ade Kombucha rapidly expanded to sell nationwide in over 65,000 stores including Whole Foods Market, Sprouts, Safeway / Albertsons, Kroger, Publix, and Target. All Health-Ade products are naturally fermented with high-quality ingredients and are certified organic, non-GMO, gluten-free and vegan, and each bottle of Health-Ade Kombucha exceeds the World Health Organization’s daily standard for probiotics.
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Assistory Showing Support on Senior Assist Day