Winter Newsletter 2023/2024

A Word To the Wise
Western Montana Area VI Agency on Aging, Inc. Serving Seniors in Western Montana, N. Idaho & NE Washington 110 Main St. Suite 5, Polson, Mt 59860 883-7284

Winter 2023-24
A porch swing – A kitchen table – A sofa. Seniors have a way of making the most mundane places
become libraries of knowledge and life experience. They’re living examples of a life well lived. A living treasure trove of advice and, if we’re lucky, they share some of that knowledge with us. That wisdom is something we carry with us for the rest of our lives. Something about their patient ways and gentle delivery of the advice make it palatable and memorable. Here are 10 words of wisdom we’ve learned from the seniors in our lives.

1. “Life is short – tell your loved ones you love them.” It can be hard to always tell our loved ones how we feel about them. Sometimes we assume they already know. Make sure to take the time to tell those who are special to you just how much they mean. Don’t take them for granted.
2. “Don’t be afraid of an honest day’s work.” Hard work can be just that, “hard.” But that hard work can also give us confidence and show others just how committed we are to a cause. Show up on time and do the hard work – people will notice.
3. “Say sorry, but only when you need to.” When you mess up, own up to it and apologize. On the other hand – Don’t apologize for being you, doing your thing, and living your life. Be YOU!
4. “Forgive” This can be a really tough piece of advice to follow. But showing forgiveness to people,
especially when they ask for your forgiveness, can lift the mental weight we carry around when we’re mad. Forgive and move on.
5. “Be a friend.” The older we get, the harder it seems to make new friends and keep them. Be a friend even to those you think might not like you. Life has a way of surprising us as to who becomes our friends.
6. “Things have a way of working out” We all get caught up in the drama of life. It’s easy to not be able to see past the current crisis. But most of the time, things have a way of working out.
7. “Water can assuage many things.” Water has a way of lessening intense feelings. Take a bath. Swim in the pool. Dance in the rain. Even splashing cool water on your face has a way of resetting your internal compass.
8. “Go Outside.” If you can’t get into the water, go outside. Nature and fresh air is good for the soul.
9. “Listen to others.” Listen to what other people have to say. You might not agree, and you might have something you want to say, but pay them respect to listen to their point of view. You might learn something.
10. “Eat the Brownie.”

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The medical debt scam starts with a call informing you that you owe money on a medical bill and that you need to pay immediately. There are several versions where in some cases, the bills and medical services are entirely fabricated. Other times the doctor’s visit was real, but the company claiming you owe money is a scam. There can be various reasons not related to scams that cause this, including mistakes and pre-authorization issues, however medical debt scams are a real threat. When a debt collector first contacts you about a debt they are legally required to provide you with information about that debt. This would include the name of the creditor, the amount, as well as how to dispute this debt. If they don’t, or say they can’t, it could be a scam. Never give sensitive financial information to the caller until you’ve confirmed it is legitimate. There are sample letters you can use to communicate with a debt collector provided by the CFPB including I do not owe this debt and I need more information about this debt. You can find these at You can also submit a complaint there if you’re having issues with a debt collection. Red Flags:

  • If someone calls out of the blue to say you owe a medical debt and can’t tell you to whom you owe this money and when you received services.
  • If you search for the phone number online and it’s not registered to an official business.
  • If they call you out of the blue and tell you it’s urgent and to pay them over the phone and this is the first time you’re heard of this debt and haven’t received previous bills or letters from collections service. • If you’re being threatened with being served or if you don’t pay immediately. (Hint: If you do ever get served, no one calls ahead of time to let you know this)

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Dear Mary Mc,

I just found out that my Medicaid Health Coverage is closed, what happened?

Martha Muffled

Dear Martha,

Due to the Public Health Emergency (COVID19) the states were not allowed to close anyone who was on Medicaid Health Coverage. In 2023 the government declared the health emergency closed and which has brought on the Medicaid Unwinding. The state is now determining cases that before the health emergency were renewed once a year. If you have been closed, you will need to reapply for the Medicaid Health Coverage benefit, if you are within the income and resource limits. There are steps to avoid the possibility of your case being closed. Make sure your contact information is current with the Department of Human and Health Services. Check your mailbox for a letter from the Office of Public Assistance about your renewal date. You should have received a letter explaining the Medicaid Unwinding, when your renewal date is, and if you have missed renewing your application. The renewal letter usually is mailed the month before your renewal month and includes a packet that needs to be completed. If you receive a renewal form, be sure to complete it right away by mailing the form back or online to avoid a gap in coverage. If you are no longer eligible for Medicaid (due to your income or resources are too high) you may be able to sign up for low cost health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace at

If you have any Medicare questions for Mary Mc, please email your query to OR call 406-883-7284

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Surprising Ways VA Social Workers Can Help You may think social workers help people facing challenges like poverty and homelessness. And they do! But social workers are also a core part of VA health care. As a part of your extended team at VA, they can connect you to a variety of resources and services. VA social workers help Veterans overcome challenges to their health and well-being. They can connect you to resources for issues related to access to care, mental health, economics, housing, and more. If you’re not sure where to look for support, talking to a social worker is a great place to start. Get connected: Navigating all the resources available at VA is easier with guidance. VA encourages you to contact a social worker for help at any time. Social workers can connect you to these and other resources:

In Home Care

Mental Health Care

Whole Health programs

The MOVE! Weight Management program

Chronic Pain Management

Education on Specific Health Conditions

Support for Homelessness

Financial Assistance

Programs for smoking cessation, grief, insomnia, and more

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Encouragement in Winter “So little cause for caroling, of such ecstatic sound, Was written on terrestrial things, Afar or nigh around, That I could think there trembled through its happy good-night air, Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew, And I was unaware.” Thomas Hardy, The Darkling Thrush I love this verse and the imagery it produces in our thoughts. So hopeful, so grateful for its existence, even in cold, gray Winter, this little sweet creature sings. Thrush are said to have the “most beautiful songs of any North American bird”.  Audubon Society I can’t help but smile and feel blessed by such hope.

We tend to become melancholy in the long darkness of Polson winter. It does go on, like the droning of the thirsty mosquito after you turn the lights out. The only cure is to do something for someone else, give something away, send a surprise to someone, bring a baked something to a neighbor and share it with coffee and a chat. “One kind word can warm three Winter months.” Japanese Proverb Winter cannot keep you in the dark as long as you have hope.


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Ask an Ombudsman about: Solving Problems in a Nursing Home and who to reach out to. Sometimes getting the quality care you need in a Nursing Home is difficult. Here are some tips to help you in this situation.

Communication Tips

  • Ask open-ended questions—Question’s that cannot be answered with a yes or no.
  • Listen—Restate in your own words what someone has said, this shows you are listening. · Write down any problems that occur, date time and person involvement. Within the Facility
  • Ask a family member, friend or staff person you trust to help solve the issue.
  • Speak to the staff person you were told to contact with any questions or concerns.
  • Speak to the Administrator or supervisor of the facility if no one else is responding.
  • Use the facility’s grievance policy.
  • Ask for a Care Plan Meeting and include family. Be sure the person who can fix the situation is at the meeting.
  • Take the Concern to Resident or family council. Outside the Facility


Contact the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. Ombudsman work to resolve complaints on behalf of LTC Residents. The long -term care Ombudsman in your area visit residents in Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities monthly.

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Dates to Remember


  1. Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day
  2. Bill of Rights Day
  3. Christmas
  4. New Years Eve



  1. New Years Day
  2. Emancipation Proclamation
  3. M.L.K Day



  1. Groundhog Day
  2. Rosa Parks Day
  3. President Lincolns Birthday Day
  4. Presidents Day


Western Montana Area VI Agency on Aging Service

Help line: 1-800-551-3191 or 406-883-7284 or 1-800-266-4188

Aging & Disability Resource Center (ADRC) Advance Directives, Caregiver Options, Housing, Home

Maintenance, In-home Services, Long Term Care Planning, Nutritional Meals, SNAP, Commodity Foods

Program, Retirement Issues, Medicaid, Powers of Attorney, Elderly Home owner/renter Credit, Transportation

SHIP, (State Health Insurance Program) Medicare Rx plans/Supplement Insurance, Medicare Savings Program

Extra Help Long Term Care Ombudsman Service Ombudsmen help residents of nursing homes, transitional care units and personal care facilities understand and exercise their rights to good care.

Veteran’s Care Program Helping Veterans remain in their homes.

Send your tax-deductible donation to:

Western Montana Area Vl Agency on Aging, Inc. 110 Main St. Suite 5, Polson, MT 59860