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2013 new SHINE logo 1Massachusetts has finished mailing new Medicare cards

Your new card will have a new Medicare Number that's unique to you, instead of your Social Security Number. This will help to protect your identity.

When you have your new Medicare card, destroy your old Medicare card and start using your new card right away. Your new Medicare Number is a unique combination of numbers and letters. Your new number uses numbers 0 thru 9. The letters S, L, O, I, B, and Z are never used.

What if you didn’t get your new Medicare card?

Your new Medicare card should have arrived in the mail by now. If you didn’t get it, here’s what to do:

  • Remember that your new Medicare card will come in a plain white envelope from the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • If the card didn’t arrive, call 1-800-MEDICARE. Medicare call center representatives can check the status and help you get your new card.

In the meantime, use your current Medicare card to get health care services.

Watch out for scams

Medicare will never call you uninvited and ask you to give out personal or private information to get your new Medicare Number and card.

Scam artists may try to get personal information (like your current Medicare Number) by contacting you about your new card.

If someone asks you for your information or for money, or threatens to cancel your health benefits if you don't share your personal information, hang up and call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

The SHINE Program, Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Everyone, provides confidential, and unbiased health insurance counseling for Medicare beneficiaries. This is a free service, though contributions are welcome and will go a long way to help support this vital program. For further assistance with any Medicare issue, you can make a SHINE appointment. To reach a trained and certified counselor in your area, contact the regional office at 1-800-498-4232 or 413-773-5555, or contact your local council on aging.

Be a friendly driver to pedestrians who are legally blind

October is White Cane Awareness Month

White Cane imageMonday, October 15, 2018, is White Cane Safety Day.President Lyndon B. Johnson recognized the first White Cane Safety Day in 1964 to raise awareness for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists to use special care for people who are blind and carry a white cane.

Q: What is a white cane, and what should I know if I see a person using one?

A: According to the Braille Institute, “the white cane is a tool of independence for many people who are blind or severely visually impaired. It affords people who are legally blind the opportunity to travel safely and efficiently in the community.”

October 15, 2018, is White Cane Safety Day. All states and many other countries have White Cane laws, which allow pedestrians who are legally blind the right of way at street crossings.

Motorists can follow these guidelines to support white cane safety:
  • Don’t stop your car less than than five feet from the crosswalk line.
  • Don’t yell out, “It’s OK to cross.”
  • Don’t get impatient when waiting for a pedestrian who is visually impaired to cross. If the pedestrian places the long cane into the street, it usually indicates he or she will begin a street crossing. If the cane traveler takes a step back and pulls back the cane from the curb, it usually indicates the person will not be crossing at that time.
  • Don’t consider a “rolling” stop as a complete stop.
  • Don’t turn right on red without coming to a full stop and looking for pedestrians. The Right on Red Law requires drivers to come to a complete stop prior to making right turns.
  • Don’t fail to stop for pedestrians at all crosswalks whether or not there is a traffic signal or stop sign.
  • Don’t stop your car in the middle of the crosswalk.
  • Don’t pass another car, stopped, waiting for pedestrians to cross the street.
  • Don’t wave to pedestrians who are using a white cane or dog guide to indicate that you are waiting for them to cross. They may not be able to  see you.
  • Don’t honk!

Most people who are legally blind have some usable vision. When in doubt, ask if the person needs assistance. Do not grab the person, cane, or dog guide! Do not pet a dog guide. Most dog guides are working and should not be petted since it can be distracting for the dog.

Learn more on the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind website or from the Braille Institute.

A Grand Opening Party for Village Neighbors will take place on Sunday, October 14, 2018, from 4 to 8 p.m., at the Shutesbury Athletic Club, 282 Wendell Rd. The evening will include dinner, raffles, and oldies music, and is free to residents of Shutesbury, Leverett, Wendell, and New Salem.

RSVP by Monday, October 8, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 413-345-6894 with the number of people in your party who will be attending.

Village Neighbors is a volunteer non-profit community of neighbors empowering aging adults to lead independent and engaged lives at home and in their communities, serving elders in Shutesbury, Wendell, Leverett, and New Salem. Village Neighbors welcomes new friends to become helpful volunteers, to be members, as well as to join one of the supportive committees.

Volunteers will provide assistance to members with occasional household tasks, yard work, or minor home repair, as well as technical support for electronic devices and simple computer problems. They will also provide transportation to various appointments, visits with friends, social and cultural events, or grocery or other shopping trips. Additionally, Village Neighbors will provide referrals to vendors such as landscapers, house cleaners, repair persons or home health providers. A simple phone call to a central number will allow members to request a service. Subsidized and waivered membership will be available where there is a need.

Village Neighbors belongs to the national Village to Village Network and works closely with the nonprofit social services agency, LifePath, in Greenfield and local councils on aging.

For additional information, call 413-345-6894, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit Village Neighbors online.

Breast cancer, a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the breast, is the second most common cancer in women, after skin cancer.

What are the risk factors for breast cancer?

The following are risk factors for breast cancer:

  • Older age
  • A personal history of breast cancer or benign (non-cancer) breast disease
  • Inherited risk of breast cancer
  • Dense breasts
  • Exposure of breast tissue to estrogen made in the body
  • Taking hormone therapy for symptoms of menopause
  • Radiation therapy to the breast or chest
  • Obesity
  • Drinking alcohol

Whenever a woman notices any unusual changes in her breasts, she should contact her healthcare provider to schedule an exam.

What is the best method of screening for breast cancer?

Regular high-quality screening mammograms and clinical breast exams are the most sensitive ways to screen for breast cancer.

A mammogram is an x-ray picture of the breast. A screening mammogram can be used to check for breast cancer in women who have no signs or symptoms of the disease. This type of mammogram usually involves two or more x-ray pictures, or images, of each breast. The x-ray images often make it possible to detect tumors that cannot be felt. Screening mammograms can also find microcalcifications (tiny deposits of calcium) that sometimes indicate the presence of breast cancer.

Diagnostic mammograms can be used to check for breast cancer after a lump or other sign or symptom of the disease has been found. Besides a lump, signs of breast cancer can include breast pain, thickening of the skin of the breast, nipple discharge, or a change in breast size or shape; however, these signs may also be signs of benign conditions. A diagnostic mammogram can also be used to evaluate changes found during a screening mammogram or to view breast tissue when it is difficult to obtain a screening mammogram because of special circumstances, such as the presence of breast implants.

Information from this article was adapted from the National Cancer Institute website.

When you need a little extra support, our new Elder Mental Health Outreach Team is here

Oct 2018 Seniorgram EMHOT photoSometimes, life situations are complex and hard to manage on our own. For people over 60 like Emily who may be experiencing painful feelings loneliness and isolation, or the challenges of depression, addiction, and other concerns affecting their emotional well-being, a new program at LifePath offers resources to help.Emily, who is 82, often feels lonely and isolated. Many of her friends have died. Although her family regularly calls, they live out of the area and aren’t able to visit often.

Miguel is worried that he is going to lose the house he has lived in for the last 50 years. The repairs are too much, and the bills are piling up. He’s becoming depressed as the worry weighs on him. He has a hard time getting out of bed in the morning.

Ivan is returning to his home after a brief stay in the hospital. He’s struggled with substance use in the past but is committed to staying sober for his grandchildren. He was participating in groups at the hospital and is looking for support in the community.

Fortunately there are resources to help!

Elder Mental Health Outreach Team

The Elder Mental Health Outreach Team (EMHOT), a program coordinated by LifePath, serves elders ages 60 and older, whose problems are impacting their emotional well-being. Outreach staff meet with elders in their homes or another location of their choice to discuss their concerns and to think through options, come up with solutions, and identify resources to help. The program is free for all elders living in Franklin County, Athol, Petersham, Phillipston, and Royalston.

Sometimes one or two visits may be needed. Other times, a team member may work with an individual for longer periods of time or help arrange for ongoing community supports. In addition to addressing emotional well-being, the team may help the individual access other services such as housing, fuel assistance, money management, or other programs to assist with day-to-day needs. Support groups are being scheduled throughout the region on such topics as Aging with Vim and Vigor, Enhancing Social Connections, Grief and Loss, and Caring for the Caregiver.

To create enhanced community impact, LifePath is convening an extended community team to increase awareness of mental health issues and available resources. The goal is to create a coordinated community response integrated with other initiatives and efforts. The team includes representation from mental health providers, peer support organizations, emergency response, faith communities, councils on aging, and others working to address behavioral health needs and well-being. The first community team meeting took place in September at LifePath. For more information about attending a quarterly meeting, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The program is one of five pilot projects funded across the Commonwealth through the Massachusetts Council on Aging in collaboration with the Department of Mental Health and the Executive Office of Elder Affairs.

To find out more or to make a referral, contact us.