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Health workers: Many qualify for help, don't know

By Stephanie Hale-Lopez
Published On: Aug 30 2013 07:38:01 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 30 2013 11:17:25 PM CDT

The cost of a year of private care is now more than $80,000; but there are programs that can help older adults maintain their health and independent living.

BLACKFOOT, Idaho -

As mom and dad get older, the price tag on their care is going up.

The cost of a year of private care is now more than $80,000; but there are programs that can help older adults maintain their health and independent living.

The problem is that most people don't know about them.

One of those programs is the Idaho Aging and Disabilities Resource Center.

Workers said they meet folks every day who qualify for extra assistance and just don't know it.

Whether its long-term care, meals, or assistance with medicare or medicaid, help is always needed but can be hard to get.

"If you've ever tried to call in to Social Security or into the VA system, to get to speak to a real person, it's quite frustrating," said Sharon Sturm, welfare director for Bingham County.

Sturm's job is to connect people with the services they need.

"I'm constantly looking for resources for our residents and it's a fun job," said Sturm.

Most people look for medical help and many don't realize they can qualify for Medicare or Medicaid.

Nydia Santiago, a senior Medicare patrol specialist, helped a man with cancer update his Medicare information and brought his treatment price down from $1,200 to only $6.30.

"I can apply for them in the system and they don't know how Medicare works or what it does," said Santiago. "That's my job."

And it all begins with a question, knowing where to look, and not being afraid to ask for help.

"I always say to people, the worst answer is going to be 'no.' It's worth it to try and apply," said Santiago.

The US Census Bureau said the population age 65 and older is expected to double within the next 25 years.

The growth is already beginning so it's good to keep these things in mind.

If you'd like more information or if you need to get a hold of someone, you can visit www.sicog.org.

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