Everything from Alzheimer’s Guides to Lists of Best Bill Pay Services in One Well-Organized Site
Do you find it interesting that the most complex parts of American living come as we get older? Seems like we need to become superheroes in capes. Dan’s dad reminds us periodically that “Getting old ain’t for sissies!” The layers and stacks and options we must weed through to figure out income and taxes and health care get more complicated each year after 65. If only there was a way to easily find resources for seniors that didn’t require pulling your hair out…
Earlier this year, I received an email from someone I didn’t know. Celeste. She introduced herself and her company, Caring.com. And asked if I might include links to some of their guides in Boomer Retirement Briefs as a resource. I didn’t have time right then to explore the site but stuck the request in my folder.
Am I ever glad I kept this info handy! And I think you will be too.
Remember Those Big User Manuals?
With the speed of technology changes, it’s easy to fall behind in an ever-increasing swirl of technology advances. The gizmos and gadgets now at our fingertips are certainly slick. Many fit in our pockets. But not a one of them comes with a user manual. At least not on paper. There’s hardly a way to get started, let alone unstuck, when trying our hand at these new gadgets.
I get it that it is much more cost effective to have user manuals online. But that’s from a business perspective. From a user perspective, it’s a nightmare. Unless you know the exact phrase or question to ask. Or you’re a twenty-something. The chat bots are pretty much worthless. And the phone trees that require you go through 99 steps to get to a representative are beyond frustrating. Where is that 400-page DOS Manual in the 3-ring binder when you need it?
As we get older (and, yes, better!) and must navigate the US financial and health systems, there is no user manual. The internet is not a user manual. We must use a hunt and peck method to try to find information. Then sort through the “About 540,000,000 results (0.88 seconds)” when googling “Medicare.”
There are seemingly no online, all-encompassing “user manuals” for finding resources for seniors. Or are there?
Finding Resources for Seniors Online
Now that I’ve had the time to check out Caring.com, I’m bowled over by this website. Not because it’s chocked full of content. But it is. Not because they cover a wide range of content important to older Americans and to caregivers. But they do. It’s about the clean, clear, extremely well-organized website where you can actually find information.
And, like that great DOS user manual, you can “thumb through” the sections to see what you don’t know. And the topics are in alphabetical order.
The great problem with the online approach is that you have to know what you are looking for. It’s important that you search for exactly the right word or phrase. And, sure, we can do that pretty well. Usually. But we’re also missing so much that we would never know was there. Yet we really need that information too.
Poking around this new resources for seniors website was like the good old fashioned encyclopedia. The content is in alphabetical order. Icons are used consistently to quickly identify similar topic areas. You don’t have to search for hidden links that take you 25 layers down into the bowels of the earth.
Each section follows the same general format so you know what you’ll find. And the table of contents on the right side of each page lays out the organization in a consistent manner.
Peruse over 100 resources at-a-glance
Celeste, the woman who sent me the original email, included a link to an Alzheimer’s guide. I never click on links when I’m not sure about a source, so went the direct route to the website where I found the guide. And so much more!
I landed on the at-a-glance page and was struck by the range of topics. They aren’t just for seniors who are ill. Or just for caretakers. Rather, the topics help all older people take control of their financial and health future. While they are in control.
Again, I found this format so inviting and easy to use that it was hard not to click on everything. You know I spend every day immersed in retirement topics. And I talk to people getting ready to retire or living in retirement. I have a pretty good lay of the land when it comes to older American life. So I did expect a website called Caring.com to have topics for caregivers, paying for senior housing, Medicare and Medicaid and the like.
Some Hidden Gems
However, I never would have thought about many of the topics they’ve included.
For example, there are sections on senior living based on religious preferences. Resources include extensive information about Catholic, Christian, and Jewish living arrangements. These guides include information, pricing, options by state, and additional resources for you to explore further.
Wouldn’t have really thought much about the best stairlifts and walk-in tubs or adjustable beds. But, like a Consumer Reports analysis, the researchers at Caring.com assess and analyze many products that make independent living possible. They list the options, costs, and how to get financial help.
There’s the Disaster Preparedness Guide for Seniors and Caregivers. Whether you agree climate change is dramatically impacting life or not, get ready. Being better prepared for Mother Nature’s wrath is more important than ever as we age. The information in this guide can help you think about how you can better weather the next storm.
My Personal Favorite Finds
Maybe the most surprising—and by that I mean delightfully surprised—were the articles with resources for younger seniors. And those who have not yet slowed down much. These seniors are in the best position to make key decisions while they are fully in control.
Moving for Seniors provides excellent insights into the decision-making that goes into downsizing and deciding it’s time to relocate. Another helpful resource if you are thinking of moving from the greater Boston area: How to Eat an Elephant. I wrote this blog a couple of years ago. Still applies today…and you are now a couple of years older!
The Best Bill Paying Services was my personal favorite find. I often talk to retirees about making sure they put as many bills on autopay as possible. Especially when it comes to making sure their Medigap premiums and utility bills are paid on time every month. But I never once came across the bill pay services to help older Americans highlighted in this guide. One of the companies reviewed has been in business for 25 years!
I also checked out the Social Security and Medicare resources…you know. Because that’s what I do. They are solid, foundational, educational resources and a good a place to start. You’ll find a lot of beyond the basics questions answered in this section of my blog: Social Security
What I really value in all these resources for seniors is how consistent the format is. You won’t have to continually think and rethink where to find things. It’s easy to go back and find something you wanted. And the format is clean, lots of white space. And a default font size that is easily readable.
How Alzheimer’s Influenced Your Medicare Part B Premiums
You may remember last year at this time seniors on Medicare were quite angry. Their Part B base premiums rose from $148.50 per month to $170.10 per month. That was the highest rate increase since 2016.
While costs to see your doctors, specialists, outpatient services, and durable medical equipment—all covered by Part B—increase annually, this was a particularly steep and unexpected increase. And mostly driven by a promising new drug to help those with Alzheimer’s disease.
Then there was some back and forth between Medicare and the manufacturer, and other considerations as typical with a brand-new drug. Bottom line, the price for Aduhelm™ dropped about 50% after the 2022 Part B premium was set. From $56,000 per year to about $28,000 per year.
The new, lower price did adjust Part B premiums for 2023. That’s in part why your premium dropped to $164.90.
As for the Alzheimer Resources for Seniors…
…well, they are valuable if your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
All this is to recognize how horrible an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is for the person. And for the family. The resources for seniors on Caring.com specifically for Alzheimer’s are an excellent place to start your research. Or to confirm what you are already doing to support someone moving through the stages of Alzheimer’s. They have 3 guides where you can get started:
- Alzheimer’s Caregiving
- A Crisis Guide for Caregivers of Seniors with Alzheimer’s
- What You Should Know about Alzheimer’s Disease
The Caring.com website also has several tools to find senior living places. Finding just the right memory care place can’t be easy. But finding where you want your person to live is easier when using the tools. And you can narrow your choices by budget as well.
The Ease and Convenience of a User Guide Is Readily Available
I was truly delighted to learn about this resource for seniors. Especially because it’s not only for those who are dealing with a health issue. Though, there is plenty of content on those issues, too.
It’s the ease and convenience, breadth and depth that make this is go-to resource. Sending my thanks to Celeste for sending that email.