Tag Archives: Vantage Point

Care for Pets in Holidays and Hard Times

Vantage Point: Fur Babies

November, where did you come from? I swear it was just yesterday that I was stressing out about what I was going to buy to contribute for Thanksgiving dinner last year.

Full disclosure, I’m not a very good cook.

During the holidays, most of us get lists ready of everything we would like to accomplish before the festivities begin. Along with those lists, we still have to do our daily tasks, like taking care of our families and our pets. These four-legged children are a part of our families, and we want them to feel loved during the holidays and for the rest of the year.

Unfortunately, the holidays mean a stressful financial burden for many people. It never fails that life happens and that bad situations happen all at once. When dealing with your four-legged children, they might need some care during this busy season and cause extra expenses you are not expecting. Thankfully, our community has different resources to help support those unexpected situations.

The Wenatchee Valley Humane Society has many programs that can assist during the difficult times. One of the programs they offer is Pets for Life, which has the intent of “keeping people and pets together during the times they need each other most.”

This program can help board pets without cost if the owner can’t afford to do so. Typically, our seniors use this program when they need to be admitted for inpatient care and don’t have anybody to watch over their pets. Pets for Life can also help with the financial burden if your pet needs to be evaluated by a veterinarian, and it can also help supply food for your pets.

Another wonderful program the Wenatchee Valley Humane Society offers is a low-cost spay and neuter program to help low-income citizens spay or neuter their pets at a very low cost. If you or anybody you know could use these services, call the Wenatchee Valley Humane Society at 509-662-9577 or stop by.

Knowing that we have such an amazing place that can help with our pets offers peace of mind to get geared up for our busy season. The holidays are intended to be full of love and joy and spent with everyone you care about. This includes our pets, and thanks to the assistance of this organization, we can feel comfortable that our pets will be by our side.

Jessica Arroyo, born and raised in the Wenatchee Valley, is a Medicare community liaison for Health Alliance Northwest, serving Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties in Washington. During her time off, she enjoys spending time with her husband and infant son.

Making Sense of Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement

Vantage Point: Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage? What’s the Difference?

Have you ever had a conversation with a friend or family member where you were both thinking that you’re talking about the same thing, but then you realize (usually after much confusion and the conversation has drifted a bit), that you’re in fact not talking about the same thing?

The conversation comes to the point where you find that you’re talking about two different things, an “apples and oranges” conversation.

I think that there are a lot of “apples and oranges” conversations when it comes to what Medicare Supplement and  Medicare Advantage plans are. We’re talking about insurance with both, but they are different things.

Medicare Supplement plans, also known as Medigap plans, work with Original Medicare, which is Part A (hospital) and Part B (medical) coverage. They help pay for all or part of the 20% that Original Medicare doesn’t pay for, depending on what plan you choose. Medicare Supplement plans do not include prescription drug coverage, so if you want that, you’ll have to pick up a prescription drug plan separately.

Medicare Advantage, also known as Part C, are plans where a private insurance company replaces Original Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans have the same Part A hospital coverage and Part B medical coverage that you’d get with Original Medicare. (Remember, you’d still pay your Part B premium if you get a Medicare Advantage plan.) Plus, Part D prescription drug coverage is included in many Medicare Advantage plans. That means you’d have hospital, medical, and drug coverage together in one plan. Medicare Advantage plans may come with extras as well.

Now that the Annual Enrollment Period is here, you’ll be better equipped to have the “apples and oranges” conversations if they come up. If you still want more direction when it comes to your options, there’s a great local service available called SHIBA (Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors). SHIBA is a free service of the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner, Consumer Protection Division and can be reached at 509-902-1114 or 1-800-562-6900  It has great volunteers who can help you.

You can also come into our local office in Creekside Business Park, and we can go over anything you’re confused about in person, bit by bit.

We at Health Alliance Northwest in Yakima are here to help our community learn what the various parts of Medicare are to help each person make informed decisions that are the best for them. (The best choice might not be us, and we’re okay with that!)    

Breck Obermeyer is a community liaison with Health Alliance Northwest, serving Yakima County. She is a small-town girl from Naches and has a great husband who can fix anything and 2 kids who are her world.

Join the Fight

Vantage Point: Join the Fight

As days go by, we never really notice change until we sit down to reminisce and look back at our past. Every couple of years, I look back at old family pictures and home videos and realize how much has changed. This triggers memories and further discussion on that particular time in my life.

As we go through our lives, we meet so many people. It can be hard to remember all their names, well at least for me, but I always remember faces for some reason. I love to see people I remember, even if I don’t quite remember their names.

In this line of work, I get to see so many people with different backgrounds, and unfortunately, with different illnesses. When I first encountered Alzheimer’s disease, I wasn’t sure how to approach it or even how to act. It was not an obvious sign. Instead, it was very subtle. I really had to pay attention and see the different demeanor this person had.

After that encounter, I started to do my research on what happens when a person gets diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I came across the Alzheimer’s Association. I learned so much on its website and realized how Alzheimer’s is so common. Did you know that Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States? The disease also accounts for 60–80% of all dementia cases.

This illness takes away so many of our loved ones, neighbors, and friends. So what is being done? How can we stop this terrible disease from taking so many memories away? One thing to keep in mind if you are going through this, you are not alone. The Alzheimer’s Association has walks all over the county each year to raise awareness and funds for the research of an Alzheimer’s cure. The main reason for the walk is Alzheimer’s care, support, and research.

Here in the Wenatchee Valley, the walk will take place on September 8, from 8:30 to 10 a.m. at Pybus Public Market. In Grant County, the walk will be September 15, from 8:30 to 10 a.m. at Moses Lake High School. The Yakima walk will also take place September 15, from 8:30 to 10 a.m. at Sarg Hubbard Park.

To join the fight, join the Alzheimer’s Association at one of these walks. It’s an opportunity to be the change and the voice for those who are no longer with us.

 Jessica Arroyo, born and raised in the Wenatchee Valley, is a Medicare community liaison for Health Alliance, serving Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties in Washington. During her time off, she enjoys spending time with her husband and infant son.

Make Time to Declutter

Vantage Point: Downsize and Declutter for Safety

The month of August has this great week called the National Safe At Home Week, August 26 to 30, and that got me thinking about things that people could do to keep their home safer.

What came to me instantly was to declutter! I must admit that I am a bit of a clutter bug. I somehow keep collecting more pots and pans (I’m honestly not sure how this happens), and I have this need to collect cookbooks or cooking magazines that have yummy recipes in them. And don’t even get me started on my Halloween decorations collection.

I’ve come to recently realize that I just have too much stuff. I’m also finding myself getting a tad bit anxious when the stuff seems to be too much to keep organized or in place. I need to make a change, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this. Why not use this month, or a week in this month, to get the clutter bug under control? I think you might thank yourself later when you have more peace, maybe more money in your pocket (hey, the summer is a great time for a yard sale) and a safer environment that is less cluttered. (I don’t really believe in the notion of being “clutter-free,” but I think we can work to have less clutter in our lives.)

Health Alliance Northwest has great presentations about a whole host of topics that we share with the community, and one of them is called Downsize and Declutter. It gives practical advice on how to start the declutter and downsize process, how to stick with it, and the possible rewards of getting through the process, along with other helpful tips. If you’re interested in having an outreach liaison, like me, present this to your group, please email me at Breck.Obermeyer@healthalliance.org to schedule a time. Happy decluttering!

Breck Obermeyer is a community liaison with Health Alliance Northwest, serving Yakima County. She is a small-town girl from Naches and has a great husband who can fix anything and 2 kids who are her world.

Wedding Planning: From Ceremony to New Life

Vantage Point: Wedding Season Brings Many Changes

Summertime is here, which means wedding season has arrived.

Weddings are filled with so much love and anticipation. These magical ceremonies take so many months of planning and preparation, like figuring out the date, color scheme, invitations, venue, photography, bridal shower, and of course, the guest list.

As the special day arrives, you get to see all of the hard work and planning come together. As the day goes on, the happy couple gets together and dances the first dance, enjoys delicious cake, and takes pictures with all the guests.

As you wind down and look into the future, the next phase of planning begins. This is a new life as you are no longer only thinking about yourself but also about your significant other. Many new married couples move into a new home, which means you might have a new address.

Before putting your new last name on the mailbox, you need to officially change your name. The first step is visiting the Social Security Administration office or mailing in an application for a new Social Security card. Once that is complete, the next stop is the Department of Licensing. This will give you a chance to retake that driver’s license picture you probably didn’t like anyway. It will have a new name and your new married smile, plus your new address.

Once you have changed your name with the Social Security Administration and the Department of Licensing, changing your name with other companies should be a breeze. Places to contact would be your employer’s office, credit card companies, banks, and insurance companies. Now that you are married, your insurance options might change. This is a great time to take another look at your current coverage.

Another very important part of this is to update your Power of Attorney (POA). Since you are officially a new couple, you’ll need to complete a new Power of Attorney. With all the changes in your life, you might want to reconsider who your POA is.

It all seems like a lot of paperwork, but once it is complete, you won’t have to think about it anymore. You can put it behind you and start your new beginning.  Then, you can sit back, relax, reminisce about your wonderful wedding day, and look into the bright new future.  

Jessica Arroyo, born and raised in the Wenatchee Valley, is a Medicare community liaison for Health Alliance Northwest, serving Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties in Washington. During her time off, she enjoys spending time with her husband and infant son.

Ready for Summer Fun

Vantage Point: Summer Is Here

Every season, I can’t wait for the next season to be here (like when it’s finally summer, I’m waiting for fall and the cooler temperatures). I’ve always done that, but I’m getting better about living in the moment.

Now that summer is here, I’ve started thinking about a few questions. How do you want to enjoy the season we’re in? What would you like to accomplish this summer that maybe you’ve wanted to accomplish in summers past and haven’t?

Here’s my goal list for a really fun family summer:

  1. I want to camp more, much more. We have a family cabin where we can escape into the outdoors, but it really isn’t the same as camping. I want to work on my camping skills while teaching my children the awesome aspects of nature.

  2. I want to take a nicely planned trip to the beach.

  3. I want to have more family dinners where we eat outside with extended family, share a good meal, and converse. I think the summer season allows the perfect time to do this.

  4. In the vein of family dinners, I want to try more fun summer recipes that will make me a culinary legend in my family’s eyes.

  5. I would like to take more family walks. Not only is being healthy a focus for me and my family, but I would also love for us to have those summer memories of being together, talking, and walking.

While you’re out accomplishing your summer goals, don’t forget about summer safety tips. Remember to never leave little ones or animals in any hot car or hot area, drink plenty of water, and make sure that your loved ones are getting enough hydration as well (fur family included).

If you happen to take walks later in the evening or early morning when the light is lower, remember to wear light or bright clothing, and maybe have a reflective light or flashlight with you (or a reflective vest) so that people can see you and you stay safe.

Sunscreen is always important, no matter what time of year. Don’t let a cloudy day fool you when it comes to sun protection. Wearing sunscreen on cloudy days is as important as wearing it on sunny days, but on cloudy days, the sun is being sneaky, and you don’t realize how much sun you’re getting.

Have a safe and goal-filled summer!

Breck Obermeyer is a community liaison with Health Alliance Northwest, serving Yakima County. She is a small-town girl from Naches and has a great husband who can fix anything and 2 kids who are her world.

Sun Protection at Any Age

Vantage Point: Making Sense of Sun Protection

Hurray for warmer weather. I must say, I sure do love springtime and seeing all of our trees thriving and blooming. The color is coming back into our communities as the grass turns greener and people start hanging flowerpots on their patios. Although we are not quite in the summer season, the sun is making an appearance, which means summertime is near.

During the summertime, we all love to enjoy some time outdoors and enjoy the nice warm weather. Some of us like to go for a stroll around the park. Others might want to spend their time by the pool to cool off. I love doing that myself.

When getting ready for a pool day, I make sure to have everything I need by my side. I make sure I have my towels, snacks, water (to stay hydrated), and floatables for maximum relaxation. And the most important part of our pool day is having our sunscreen applied.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t always been great about applying sunscreen when being out under the sun, but the older I get, the more I realize how important it is to protect my skin. Since summer is near, I want to make sure I take the right precautions as my family and I spend time outdoors.

According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, “Sun protection is essential to skin cancer prevention – about 90% of non-melanoma skin cancers and about 86% of melanomas are associated with exposure to UV radiation from the sun.”

It’s very scary to think how high these statistics are when we’re all under the sun on a daily basis. Reading these statistics makes me think twice about if I really want to spend time out by the pool. How do I know what sunscreen is giving me the best protection?

The Skin Cancer Foundation can help with that too. “Most sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher do an excellent job of protecting against UVB. SPF or (Sun Protection Factor) is a measure of a sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB from damaging the skin.” They also say that people who use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher on a daily basis show 24% less skin aging than those who don’t.

After getting more insight into skin care and sun damage I will definitely enjoy my time off outdoors cooling down, just with plenty of sunscreen. I’m ready for summer 2018!

Jessica Arroyo, born and raised in the Wenatchee Valley, is a Medicare community liaison for Health Alliance, serving Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties in Washington. During her time off, she enjoys spending time with her husband and infant son.