A.P.P.L.E. Project Helps Senior Adults Navigate Paperwork

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With Medicare open enrollment beginning Oct. 15, now is the time for older adults to begin reviewing their prescription drug plans in preparation for 2019.

That’s according to Jean Gooden, director of the A.P.P.L.E. Project at Southeast Missouri State University. She says five plans will be expiring this year with seven new plans scheduled to take effect in the new year.

“It’s complicated,” Gooden said. “There are so many rules.”

That’s where the A.P.P.L.E. project – Helping Senior adults with Applications, Personal Papers, Legal and Environmental paperwork — comes in. The A.P.P.L.E. Project is a free outreach program of the Department of Child and Family Studies in the College of Education, Health and Human Studies at Southeast. The program helps senior adults age 60 and older who are residents of Cape Girardeau, Perry and Scott counties with a variety of paperwork.

Gooden says A.P.P.L.E.’s mission is to help educate senior adults about available resources.

“We don’t sell anything,” she said. “And we don’t charge anything.”

From applications for Medicare supplements and prescription coverage to insurance claims, bills, taxes, legal issues and forms, these matters can be time-consuming, confusing and downright daunting, Gooden said. A.P.P.L.E., she says, is happy to help older adults navigate these systems.

Dorothy, a Jackson, Missouri, resident, has sought A.P.P.L.E.’s expertise on more than once occasion.

“They have helped me so much,” she said, “They have helped with everything I need done. It has been fantastic. I would be lost without them.”

When Dorothy moved to Missouri 11 years ago, she realized she had a learning curve in getting up to speed with state regulations.

“Missouri is completely different than the state I came from,” she said.

A.P.P.L.E. has helped Dorothy with shopping for and setting up her Medicare supplement, and she’s scheduled to visit with A.P.P.L.E. staff in a couple of weeks to discuss Medicare open enrollment. A.P.P.L.E. staff also have helped her fill out paperwork for propane gas for heating her home.

“They have been wonderful, and they have been wonderful for a lot more people than just me,” she said.

Barb Kinsey of Cape Girardeau also reached out to APPLE last fall as she began the process of enrolling in Medicare.

“They did an outstanding job,” she said. “They know what they’re doing. I highly recommend them.”

Kinsey said APPLE provided her with names of several brokers for her to consider in getting enrolled in a Medicare supplement and prescription drug plan.

“They are very versed in all that,” she said.

Gooden says senior adults often are undecided about which Medicare supplement they need. Some find Medicare and insurance claims confusing and could use help with getting their bills paid on time as well.

The A.P.P.L.E. project supports the independence of senior adults by providing them with counseling, advocacy, education and direct assistance. Its services include, but are not limited to, paperwork related to: Medicare and supplemental health care insurance, long-term care insurance, advance directives, prescription assistance, property tax credits, credit and billing issues, financial record-keeping, applications for assistance, consumer fraud and low-vision resources.

The A.P.P.L.E. Project also provides outreach services at a variety of community sites, which are convenient and familiar to senior adults. In addition to the Project’s office at 920 Broadway Suite 311, in downtown Cape Girardeau, A.P.P.L.E. representatives regularly visit senior citizen centers; residential complexes; and satellite sites in selected rural communities. Home visits also are available to the homebound. A.P.P.L.E. representatives visit the Cape Girardeau Senior Center on Thursdays; the Jackson Senior Center on the second Wednesday of the month and the last weekday of the month; the Scott City, Missouri, Senior Center on the first Tuesday of the month; the Perryville, Missouri, Senior Center on the third Thursday of the month; and the Altenburg, Missouri, Senior Center on the fourth Wednesday of the month.

A.P.P.L.E. also plans to visit senior housing centers next spring.

Grants from the Senior Citizens’ Services Fund Board of Cape Girardeau County, Southeast Missouri United Way, Perryville Tax Commission, CLAIM and client donations help fund the Project.

For more information on A.P.P.L.E., call (573) 651-5467.