More help available for seniors

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To the Editor:

It’s great that Abe Seiman is offering his varied skills to Island seniors, mentioned in the article on June 23 (“Abe Seiman works to fill counseling gap for seniors”). I’d like to point out that some of the services pertaining to Medicare and MassHealth are currently available on the Island for free from SHINE counselors.

SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders) counselors are trained and certified by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs. SHINE counselors receive ongoing training, and official updates from the state on Medicare, MassHealth (Medicaid), Social Security, and Medicare Supplemental Insurance. SHINE counselors are available at all senior centers, and at the Vineyard Health Care Access Program. The Vineyard Health Care Access Program also has a bilingual SHINE counselor for the Brazilian population.

SHINE counselors are able to assist a resident who is turning 65 with signing up for Medicare, choosing a Medicare prescription drug plan, explaining supplemental options that are accepted on the Island (not all Medicare plans are accepted on the Island), and doing a financial screening for lower-income residents to see if they qualify for any of the Medicare Savings Programs. SHINE counselors are aware of all the local resources available to seniors, and they can assist adult children seeking help for an aging parent.

The more service providers assisting our aging population, the better! Better still is if we have good lines of communication among all the professionals helping our seniors.

Mary Leddy, Assistant Director

Vineyard Health Care Access Program