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Greens Resident Rose Ann Lorenzo Aiding Seniors

With more than 55 million Americans receiving Medicare benefits, billions of dollars are paid out every year by the health care program, signed in to law by President Lyndon B Johnson in 1965.

While the program provides different levels of coverage, sometimes understanding the complex rules and regulations can be daunting for those it aids. The annual enrollment period spans from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, 2017. During this period, seniors age 65 plus sign up for the program or determine any changes they need to make in the coverage they receive.

Greens resident and retired nurse Rose Ann Lorenzo spends countless hours every year working with Medicare recipients and their families to help them navigate the questions and choices they face. Prior to retirement, Lorenzo worked as a home health care nurse. “Patients would ask me for help with their medical bills and insurance coverage. I didn’t know anything about Medicare and I didn’t know how to help them,” she explained.

All that changed when she replied to a newspaper ad requesting volunteers for an intense three-day course to learn all about the program. Today, Lorenzo is eager to tell others about helpful programs available to seniors.

Through the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, Lorenzo volunteers for their free SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders) program. She speaks with people by phone or meets them at local libraries to review their Medicare options and answer questions that arise as they review the Medicare materials. Her typical caller, she says, is a Baby Boomer. “People are more informed now than they used to be but sometimes they’re more confused,” she explained.

Lorenzo explained that SHINE volunteers educate patients and enable them to call Medicare. They sometimes call Medicare themselves on behalf of the patient if the situation is very complex. To reach the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, call 1 (800) 963-5337 or 1 (800) 96 ELDER.

Lorenzo also recommends the Senior Connection Center in Tampa for those in search of services or counseling. “They know everything they need to know about seniors,” she said.

The organization provides information on services ranging from support groups, meal planning, housing, mobility assistance programs and more. They also offer training for caregivers.

For more information, visit http://www.agingcare.com

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While Lorenzo gives so much of her time to seniors, it’s what she gets back that drives her to continue. “It makes me feel like I have a purpose. People are so grateful to you when you help them with their problems.”

By Lisa Stephens

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