Aging Well in Maine

Are You Too Old for Marketplace Insurance?


Hello from Holly…

Are You Too Old for Marketplace Insurance?
Believe it or not, you might be! If you’re currently on a Marketplace (Obamacare) insurance plan and you’re 65 years old or older, you’ve outgrown your policy.

When the Marketplace came into being, it was designed for people UNDER 65 who might be without insurance. It was not designed for those 65 or older, because Medicare was already in place for you.

When you turn 65, since you are eligible for Medicare, you will lose any Marketplace subsidies or tax credits you receive. It’s your responsibility to make the switch from your Marketplace plan to Medicare – this does not happen automatically. Although Medicare may cost more than your Marketplace plan, Medicare gives you better coverage at a time you’ll need it more.

If you wait to enroll in Medicare, you will pay a 10% penalty for life on your Part B Medicare premium for every year you delay enrollment. On average, people who wait to enroll in Medicare are paying 30% more in premiums than those who enrolled at age 65. But here’s the good news: Although the switch can be a bit confusing, there is free help out there for you. You can call your Area Agency on Aging, for one-on-one help getting you dis-enrolled from the Marketplace policy and enrolled in Medicare. Call us today at 1-800-427-1241.

If you want to do it on your own, please remember there are two steps.
Step One: Enroll in Medicare. You can sign up online at or call 1-800-772-1213. If you need more information about the Medicare choices that work best for you, before you enroll, call your local Area Agency on Aging at 1-877-353-3771 for free, unbiased assistance.
Step Two: Dis-enroll from the Marketplace. You can dis-enroll online at or call Consumers for Affordable Healthcare at 1-800-965-7476 for assistance in dis-enrolling from your Marketplace plan.

Holly Zielinski is the Director of Community Services for SeniorsPlus

Fall Clean Up of Your Medications: The Why and How of Disposal

Do you have expired medicines or ones you no longer take in your cabinets? Fall is a good time to do inventory and clean-up those while you’re doing the other Fall chores. Here’s the whys to dispose of them and the hows to properly do so.

• The biggest threat of unused medications lying around is the potential that you could take them by mistake, or children and pets could take them and suffer overdose and/or death.
• A growing threat is drug diversion – in other words, someone going through your trash to find your unused painkillers, etc., to support their drug addiction.
• Medications flushed down the toilet go directly to our groundwater system. Waste water treatment does not eliminate the harmful effects of medications.
• So, now we know flushing medications down the toilet is not good. There are a few medications that if even one dose was taken, they could be fatal to a child or a pet, so the safest thing to do is get rid of them immediately.

• Some law enforcement agencies will take unwanted meds throughout the year. Check with your local police or sheriff departments in your town.
• If you cannot get to a collection site, then take the meds out of their containers, and mix them into raw garbage. Then put the mixture in a sealed bag or can (an old coffee can with a lid) and put in your trash. Your efforts to disguise them and make them unappealing will help stop animals and people from finding them.
• Lastly, make sure your identifying information is removed from the pill containers. Remove the labels, or scratch off information that identifies you and the drug. You do not want someone seeking drugs to target you and your home for a break-in.

Now is the perfect time to clean out your medicine cabinets and kitchen cabinets, safely, protecting the environment, pets, children, and yourself from theft.

Holly Zielinski is the Director of Community Services for SeniorsPlus

Are You Nearing Age 65?

• Did you know that if you are Medicare eligible at age 65, you must sign up for Medicare 3 months before your birthday, the month of your birthday, or during the 3 months following your birthday month? (If you’re still working and you have “creditable” insurance coverage, you can continue with your employer insurance.)

• Did you know that you sign up for Medicare through Social Security? You can do this yourself on the Social Security website,

• Did you know that if you are currently on a Marketplace (or Obamacare or ACA insurance) policy, you MUST switch to a Medicare policy at age 65. If you do not, you will receive a premium penalty from Medicare and will have to pay back any subsidy you may have received during that time period. Yes, your Marketplace policy may be better and cost you less, but you are not allowed to keep it.

• Did you know that no one is going to send you a letter to tell you this and remind you to switch your policy? You must keep track of this yourself. Many people are getting caught, assuming someone will let them know when they need to switch their policy. Unfortunately that is not how it works.

Age 65 is a great age – maybe you’re considering retirement and will now have more time to enjoy the simple things, the little things that as we get older we realize are really the big things, the things that matter. Time with family and friends, time to pursue hobbies, time to travel.

It’s also an age when we may ignore important steps we need to take – such as switching insurance policies, getting that red, white and blue card that says Medicare. But some deadlines are just too important to ignore and can hurt us financially.

If you are nearing 65, we invite you to come to a Medicare Basics class at the SeniorsPlus Education Center, and/or make a free appointment with a SeniorsPlus Medicare counselor to review your options. Medicare counselors are available in Fryeburg, Farmington, Norway, Poland, Rumford and Lewiston. Call today 1-800-427-1241.

Holly Zielinski is the Director of Community Services for SeniorsPlus

Achieve Healthy Aging

September is Healthy Aging Month! What does that mean to you? For me it’s about the whole package – mind, body and spirit. Reminding myself I’m never too old to make small positive changes and even reinvent myself if I am so inclined. Check out this list of 10 Healthy Aging & Reinventing Yourself ideas. Which ones speak to you?

1. Do not act your age or at least what you think your current age should act like! What do remember as your best age? Picture yourself at that age and be it. Some people may say this is denial, but it goes a long way toward feeling better about yourself. (Tip: Don’t keep looking in the mirror, just FEEL IT!)

2. Be positive in your conversations and actions every day. When you catch yourself complaining, check yourself right there and change the conversation to something positive. (Tip: Reading and writing positive affirmations daily can be uplifting!)

3. Don’t associate with negative people. Surround yourself with people who have a positive outlook on life, who are energetic, happy people. You’ll be happier too. (Tip: Smile often. It’s contagious!)

4. Analyze your gait. Do you walk slowly because you have just become lazy or, perhaps, have a fear of falling? (Tip: Strength and balance exercises can make a big difference)

5. Stand up as straight as you can! You can knock off a few years with this trick your mother kept trying to tell you. You will look great and feel better. (Tip: Your waistline will also look trimmer!)

6. How’s your smile? People who smile more often are happier. Your teeth are just as important to your health as the rest of your body. Good oral health is a gateway to your overall well-being. (Tip: Keep those regular dental exams and maybe look into teeth whitening)

7. Lonely? You don’t have to be. Call a friend or family member, volunteer your time, take a class, invite someone to meet for lunch or coffee. (Tip: SeniorsPlus has many volunteer opportunities and if you haven’t checked out our Education Center you owe it to yourself – do it today!)

8. Start walking – just a few extra steps a day can make a big difference. Fall is a beautiful time of year to get outside for a walk. (Tip: If you have a dog, take them for a walk with you!)

9. Make this the month you set up your annual physical and other health screenings. If you’re approaching 65 remember October starts Open Enrollment season for Medicare. SeniorsPlus is available to provide free assistance with navigating this often confusing process. Call us to schedule your personal appointment.

10. Last but not least, find your inner artist. You may have an artist lurking inside you just waiting to be tapped (Tip: Never think you are too old to reinvent yourself!)

Holly Zielinski is the Director of Community Services for SeniorsPlus

Hello from Holly:

“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all” – Aristotle

Lifelong Learning is a phrase we hear so often these days. What exactly does that mean? Wikipedia defines it as “the ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons while enhancing social inclusion, active citizenship, and personal development which provides self-sustainability.”

Sounds pretty appealing, huh? If you answered yes, you are in luck! SeniorsPlus will be presenting their 9th annual Aging Well Living Well Expo on Friday, October 7, at Sunday River in Bethel. Join us for a full day of learning, exploring, and energizing at the beautiful Sunday River Resort. As a bonus, fall foliage should be at its peak!

What can you explore and learn? Explore important topics such as cognitive aging, marijuana as legal and useful medicine, facts about Lyme disease, and how our Legislative process works. Learn how to relax and the health benefits of Tai Chi, acupuncture, and aqua stretching. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to line dance or use your crockpot for healthy cooking? How about home brewing your own beer? Other fun and useful workshops will include photography using your smartphone, what color is your personality, and coloring books all grown up!

It will be a fun-filled day of learning and exploring, starting with the keynote address by long-time WCSH-TV weatherman Kevin Mannix and his wife Linda Rota as they share their life experiences highlighted in their book “Weathering Shame.”

The $25 admission is for the entire day and includes breakfast and lunch. Chondola rides to the North Peak Lodge will also be available for a nominal fee. Full brochures with workshop details and registration information are now available at SeniorsPlus and at You may also register by phone using your credit card by calling 1-800-427-1241. Mark your calendar for October 7 — See you there!

Note: Holly Zielinski is the new Director of Community Services at SeniorsPlus

This is Good Bye From the Desk of Connie Jones

(June 2016)

In just a few days, I will be “retiring” from my job at SeniorsPlus. People have been asking – so what are you going to do next? How does it feel to be retiring? Well, to tell you the truth, I feel a bit scared! I’m excited, yes, I’m very sad, as I will miss my co-workers, but I’m a wee bit anxious about this big change. So I go back to my experts – people who have been there before me, my wise role models.

The other day I read: “Live each day like life was going to go on interminably.” So basically – don’t quit life now! Don’t give up on life this early, just keep taking part fully in life every day, like you were going to be around forever.

Along with that is the startling statistic that if you reached 65 and you’re pretty healthy, you can plan on another 30 years. Thirty years is a long time to sit around and rock in a chair, or smell the roses, or take naps! Instead there is enough time to reinvent yourself multiple times. My friend Nancy, at 60, decided to become a nurse practitioner. Now at 70, she is beginning to say – okay, maybe I should become a marine biologist next. Nancy’s well on her way to being like a cat with nine lives. I still have quite a few more to explore, for sure!

So if I have this much time left, it is an opportunity to challenge myself to things I never thought possible. Maybe my biggest barrier to overcome is my own self-perception. We make pretty strong statements about ourselves – “I don’t like working with my hands,” “I will never live in a city,” or “I hate cooking.” Hmmm. Maybe we need to challenge those boxes we’ve put ourselves in. We might be surprised at what we feel if we give it another chance.

My friends gave me one more piece of wisdom – every period of change and transition is a time of muddling. Life can feel fragile and like your world is tipping a bit. That is all normal. Just keep on muddling for a while longer, and if you’re open to the possibilities of change, a whole new exciting new life will appear.

Here’s to muddling and new lives!

Spotlight: Oxford County

Aging is thriving in all three of the counties we serve. This month I’d like to highlight some big happenings in Oxford County.

Shadagee Ramblers Benefit Meals on Wheels

Local band, Shadagee Ramblers, will perform on Sunday, May 22, at 2 to 5 PM at the American Legion Hall, 595 Gore Road, Locke Mills, as a benefit for Meals on Wheels Program in Oxford County. Live music, a 50/50 raffle, pie auction, refreshments and lots of good old fashioned fun. Admission is $10 at the door, those under 12 are free. Come join the fun, and support the Meals on Wheels program of SeniorsPlus. For more information, contact Valerie Cole at 513-3722.

Frauds and Scams: How to Protect Yourself

Scams and identity theft rob millions of Americans every year. Learn to recognize common scams and what you can do to avoid them. You’ll learn about useful resources and receive your own fraud prevention guide from AARP. Monday, May 16, at noon at the Peru Old Elementary School. To register for this workshop presented by Valerie Cole of SeniorsPlus, call 1-800-427-1241 to register.

Bethel, Newry, Woodstock and Greenwood Becoming Age Friendly

A group of forward-thinking community members in these four towns came together and are beginning the process of becoming age-friendly, or, a place where everyone can age in place. This group received a small AARP grant to start the community assessment process. Watch for big changes – and your chance to be part of this process. What changes do you feel are needed to make it possible to stay at home as long as possible in Bethel, Newry, Woodstock or Greenwood? Want more information or join the project? Call Allen Cressy at 824-0508.

Save The Date: Aging Well Living Well Expo

SeniorsPlus will hold its 10th Aging Well Living Well Expo at Sunday River on Friday, October 7. Mark your calendars now and watch for more information in July.

Eating Alone is Bad for Your Health!

One of the biggest risks older adults face is loneliness. Not only does it feel bad, but it can be bad for your health, causing depression which affects all parts of your body. Mealtime is one big culprit. Mealtime in our society is a very social event. Families gathered around a table, sharing their day, memories, insights, laughter, and love. As we age, the table often gets smaller – the kids grow up and move away, a spouse dies, friends move away, and soon, mealtime is more of a chore than a pleasure.

To protect your nutrition, you need to eat with others just as often as possible. SeniorsPlus offers a Community Dining program with places and opportunities for you to get together with friends, neighbors, and family to have a nutritious meal!

1. Lunch Plus Cafes, where you can gather once a week or more, and share a meal with others. Make a reservation and you’ll have a delicious hot meal ready and waiting for you! $3 donation requested. Locations are: Heritage Court and The Auburn Townhouse in Auburn, Meadowview Park in Lewiston, MTM Community Center in Lisbon Falls, Boofy Quimby Hall in Turner, Rangeley Town House in Rangeley, Nezinscot Village in Buckfield, and Muskie Center in Rumford.

2. Around Town Cafes. Get a voucher from us (suggested donation of $5), and use it anytime at a restaurant that partners with us in this program. When you go to the restaurant with your friends or family, ask for the SeniorsPlus menu. There you will have a great selection of entrees that fit our nutrition standards. Enjoy your meal, and “pay” for it with the voucher. Don’t forget that the tip is on you. Our restaurants include: Brickyard Café in Farmington, Campus Cuisine and Chick-a-Dee in Lewiston, Chuck Wagon in Livermore Falls, LaFleur’s in Jay, and Market Square in South Paris.

For more information, go to our website,, or call us at 1-800-427-1241.

To good food and good health!

Your Help Needed

As you may know, SeniorsPlus is the area agency on aging covering Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties. One of our area agency on aging responsibilities is to produce a strategic plan for how we are going to better serve the residents of our area, during the next four years, 2017-2020. Our plan becomes part of the State’s plan, which then becomes part of the federal plan for serving older adults.

We want to listen closely to the voices and needs of people in our counties, before we write our plan. We want to know what you consider are the keys to making it possible for you to live and age well right where you are – in your own home.

1) What are the top three things needed by older adults so they can age well in their communities?

2) What are the top three things missing in your community that make it hard for you to remain in your own home?

3) What is your definition of “old”?

4) Which of the following is the correct list of services that SeniorsPlus provides to older adults and adults with disabilities? (Hint: there’s only one right answer here):
a) Meals on Wheels, Medicare counseling and fuel assistance?
b) Aging Well Living Well Expo, free dental care and caregiver support groups?
c) Money Minders, Medicare counseling, Meals on Wheels, caregiver support groups, Education Center, information and assistance, Aging Well Living Well Expo, Around Town restaurant voucher program, Long Distance Learning in Oxford and Franklin counties, early stages of dementia support group, Savvy Caregiver classes, and Matter of Balance and T’ai Chi classes.

If you would take a minute and let us know your answers to the above questions, it will help inform our strategic planning for the next four years. The best way to answer is to email me at If you can’t get to a computer, you can call me and give me your answers. My phone number is 513-3705. If I’m not available, please leave me a voice mail. Thank you.

The Aging Well Living Well Expo Franklin County

Mark your calendars now and make plans to attend the Aging Well Living Well Expo Franklin County on Thursday, February 18, 8 AM to 1 PM, at the Kingfield Elementary School. (Snow date is Friday, February 19). Come for a free morning of learning and just plain old get-together.

If you are an older adult who understands the importance of living a healthy, active lifestyle, then the Aging Well Living Well Expo is a “must attend” event. There will be:

• Workshops including
o Zumba Gold – Zumba® fuses Latin rhythms and easy moves to create a dynamic fitness program that will blow you away. Exercise you’ll want to do everyday and feel good about doing it!
o Frauds and Scams: How to Protect Yourself – the basic rules of how to protect yourself from being caught off-guard and falling victim to a current or future scam.
o Healthy Cooking – we are what we eat! How to eat healthy as we age.

• Keynote address: Aging Courageously and Outrageously – Let’s take aging by storm! This presentation will acknowledge that it takes courage to age well, and will share tips on how to do that. Then, we’ll turn to the outrageous side – let’s add a bit of pizzazz to the aging process, a little zing! Come enjoy a discussion on how to age well, with courage and vim and vigor.

• Exhibitors’ booths of local providers displaying a variety of services and information of interest to you.

• Continental breakfast (provided by the Orange Cat Cafe) and snacks throughout the morning.

Plan this morning out for yourself, bring a friend, and enjoy. To register, call SeniorsPlus at 1-800-427-1241. You must pre-register for this free event.