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You can’t afford to be ignorant

Register • Mar 12, 2014 at 4:26 PM

There is a difference between stupidity and ignorance. Merriam Webster defines stupidity as “the state of being foolish or unintelligent” Ignorance means something completely different. Ignorance, according to Merriam Webster is the lack of knowledge, education or awareness”

Ignorance can be deadly at any age. It’s even more so in later life. This is the time of life when understanding how to get the best health care and your understanding of how to select your insurance coverage is most likely to have consequences.

Positive consequences — if you understand the health care system and how well the insurance you choose to buy pays your health care bills. Or, it can have negative consequences — not understanding how the health care system works; and buying the cheapest insurance only to find it doesn’t pay as much toward your care as you “thought”

Health care and later life is more complex than it use to be. Think about it ...

•Technology is playing a greater role in our health care system and how you learn about your health insurance.

•Health professions are changing, i.e., more “hospitalists” (who are they?) more nurse practioners (what do they do?) and more physician’s assistants (how are they different from a nurse practitioner?) are seeing more patients in place of the family doctor. Do you know what that means? You should.

•Insurance coverage is relying on the consumer to know what is best for him/her, i.e., Original Medicare Vs Medicare Advantage Plans; Do I really need Medicare Part D? Is the Affordable Care Act my only option?

Then we have the issue of “capacity” or “competency” in later life. Capacity meaning the clinical status assessed by a health care professional in response to questions raised about a person’s ability make decisions or perform acts. Competency meaning the legal right as determined by the court of a person to make self-directed decisions or perform self-directed legal acts. (source: 18th Annual Geriatric Medicine Symposium, Dementia: Update on Evaluation & Treatment)

What would you do if a health care team and/or your family labeled you too quickly/incorrectly as being incapable of making your own decisions?

These are all subjects that play an important role in the kind of care and how much care you receive.

If you are an Erie County resident, age 60 and older and don’t want to be ignorant about your health care in later life, we have a painless way for you to learn. It’s a nine-month course titled “How To Be Your Own Health Care Advocate” It starts April 14 and meets one time per month for two hours. Each class covers two different topics. The course is free, but near perfect attendance is required. There are no tests or quizzes, only surveys used to determine how to make each class better/more interesting than the previous class. In the end, what you get out of it is more knowledge so you can maintain your independence. Call Tina Elmlinger, RN for more information at 419-624-1856 or 800-564-1856.

Ask Serving Our Seniors

Q: I am sensing a difference in my memory, but I don’t want to tell my doctor. Is there a test I can do myself to see if I should tell my doctor?

A: There is no self-test. It’s unfortunate you feel that way, but your sentiments are common. Let me suggest you call Serving Our Seniors and make an appointment to talk to gerontologist Brenda Hendricks so she can explain signs and symptoms; what’s normal and what’s not. She will be available 2:15-5 p.m. March 20, at the Serving Our Seniors office.

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