Q: I have a Medicare Advantage Plan, and I keep receiving all this mail from different health-care companies. Do I need to make changes during open enrollment?


Answer: Great question! Medicare beneficiaries are encouraged to review their health insurance on an annual basis.

Changes to your health, prescription drugs and possible new plan options in the area are just a few reasons why it is important that you take advantage of this opportunity. The Medicare Annual Enrollment period runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, 2019, and the good news is that assistance is just a phone call or one-on-one appointment away. To discuss your options and compare plans, you may wish to contact the Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP).

A division of the North Carolina Department of Insurance, SHIIP has counselors who can answer questions about Medicare coverage over the phone or in person. For more information, contact SHIIP at 1-855-408-1212 or visit www.ncshiip.com. The Forsyth County coordinating site for SHIIP is the Shepherd’s Center of Greater Winston-Salem.

In order to assist Medicare beneficiaries, the following Annual Enrollment Sessions will be offered from Oct. 18 through Dec. 6, 2019 by the Shepherd’s Center of Greater Winston-Salem. The sessions will assist Medicare beneficiaries to re-evaluate their drug plans and Medicare Advantage plans and make changes if necessary. Any changes made are effective Jan. 1st of 2020. Trained Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) counselors will be available to assist in the enrollment process. Enrollment sessions will be conducted Fridays on Oct. 18 and 25; Nov. 1, 8, 15 and 22; and Dec. 6. All of the Enrollment Sessions will be held at the Shepherd’s Center of Greater Winston-Salem, 1700 Ebert St., Winston-Salem, NC 27103. One hour appointments will be offered from noon — 5 p.m. Space is limited. Appointments must be made by calling the Shepherd’s Center at 336-748-0217.

Q: I am going on a cruise soon and would like to do some of the water excursions, but I have never learned to swim. Maybe it would help me get in shape, too. Are there classes for seniors like me?


Answer: It is never too late to acquire a new skill. Water-based exercise, like swimming, has benefits for everyone and even more specific benefits for seniors. For post-menopausal women, one study showed swimming helped maintain bone density and increased estrogen levels. Another study for men over 70 years of age reflected a 33% decline in falls.

Swimming is easy on the joints and provides a full body workout without the pressure on your hips, spine and knees. Therefore, water-based exercise can help seniors with joint issues, such as osteoarthritis. Swimming can also give you more flexibility, improve posture and alleviate back pain. Every time you are in the water you are working different muscle groups and building strength while getting a cardiovascular workout.

Learning to swim is a great way to keep yourself safe, especially if you are around bodies of water. Indoor, adult swim classes are available year round at a number of local YMCAs. Different locations offer group classes, semi-private, and private classes to suit your comfort level and budget. Visit ymcanwnc.org for more information or call the following YMCAs directly: Fulton Family YMCA (336) 661-1093, Davie Family YMCA (336) 751-9622, Kernersville Family YMCA (336) 996-2231, and Stokes Family YMCA (336) 985-9622.

The YMCA also offers other water exercise classes for seniors such as water aerobics and Silver Sneaker Splash which can be taken without a person knowing how to swim. Classes are offered in the shallow end of the pool or the deep end, depending on your skill level and comfort. These classes provide a wonderful opportunity to get in shape and boost your mental health by socializing.

Like most skills you try to master, keeping a sense of humor and being persistent will help. Realize there may be challenges, but you can expect rewarding accomplishments. Also, know that your comfort in the water will increase over time. Using a foam noodle or kickboard can be a great way to start. Now more than ever, is a great time to get in the water.

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AgeWise is a weekly column compiled by staff of Senior Services Inc., a nonprofit organization in Winston-Salem. If you have a question, email agewise@seniorservicesinc.org or mail to Senior Services, 2895 Shorefair Drive, Winston-Salem, NC 27105.

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