How We Live Now: A Review

I usually save my favorite books for the holidays but this one was published just this week and I like to keep readers up with the latest news. Even though there are a plethora of books on my shelf that I could recommend this is the one I think you should add first.

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Like many of you, my life is always on the go so I can’t always find time in my busy schedule to sit down and read an entire book. But if you don’t read anything else, this is the one to pick up from Amazon today.

Here are a few reasons.

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Down the Rabbit Hole: The Alphabet Soup of Medicare

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DISCLAIMER: the following story is only my experience! Do not use for factual basis or advice, not that you’d want to. You’d be in the looney bin with me if you did. Just sayin’.

Medicare: this is a positively monumental experience for most of us. It is a literally coming of age.

This is my story.

So, what happened to easy to follow directions? I miss kindergarten where it was all about using safety scissors and learning how to glue.

Timing: prepare for hours…day…weeks…years? Pack a lunch. This could take a while.

The steps look a little…what’s the right word? Ambiguous?

Did you know that you’re supposed to register for Medicare with the Department of Social Security three to six months in advance of your birthday? No one told me? How does anyone know that? Did I miss a memo or a piece of junk mail or is this something you’re just supposed to know how to do like eat with a fork or saying please and thank you?

So first, I had to go on the Social Security website to sign up to be able to sign up. Or I could just go to the Social Security office. The mere thought of standing in line with my little paper number waiting for it to ding on the sign as I listened to nauseating Muzak… not my idea of a good time. Government websites are scary, but their offices can be scarier.

Oh look – I found a clue! I feel like Sherlock…

rabbit holeThese official looking BIG envelopes look like they are from Medicare, or an insurance carrier, or AARP… Well, they’re really from an independent insurance agent who seems to have received some sort of notification that I am now officially old enough to target. I wonder when they learn that trick in insurance school.

They send these internet related keys that are supposed to be only for me, but how am I supposed to know? I called the help line, but I wasn’t fooled. They want to get me as a customer, but I think I can figure this out for myself.

I hope.

But the more information I read, the worse it got. Paper began stacking up on my desk.

As I read through the mountains of paper I had been receiving, my eyes began to glaze over. I needed to call in the troops…but who are the troops?

I believe in community so I figured I’d crowdsource some help on this thing. I talked to my sister and friends who have already done it.

My friend Linda told me, “I think I am pretty smart but… I’m doing it with someone else so we cannot lose our minds!” She is quite smart. If she can’t help me, I might be helpless.

Well, it helped a little, but I still felt like I killed a few too many brain cells and I might be descending quickly down the rabbit hole.

Is there anyone I ask? Can you just tell me what to do!

Well that depends.

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author and friend, Maria

The official information is enough to cause anyone to question their sanity. I began to call it alphabet soup. Parts A and B are basic Medicare. Okay, I was fine with that. But then if you want more coverage you need to tack on supplemental plans. They’re listed A through N or something. Serious alphabet soup. Why can’t they use some other designator like colors or animals or something? Anything else but more letters!

Seriously, there is an alphabetical list on the left side of the chart that tells you about some parts of the plan. On the top of the chart is another alphabet with the kinds of coverages you can elect to supplement. They aren’t different letters. It is all the same jumble.

Hey look! The Drug/Pharmacy plan is called Plan D. Finally, something makes sense! And, of course, it is about drugs. I don’t just feel like I’m in Alice in Wonderland. I feel like I am in Jefferson Airplane’s psychedelic “White Rabbit” song.

I really don’t like to think of myself as old but this really feels like it is part of that Luminosity memory training challenge.

And this is only the first year. I have the privilege of doing this every single year if I want to. Shoot me now!

From all of my online belly-aching, one of my friends took pity on me and suggested an insurance agent she knew who specialized in Medicare. Score! That was just the ticket. I am usually quite self-reliant but my brain felt like those old commercials with the eggs: “This is your brain on Medicare…” I give up!

Oh, wait, there are a few more gems!

Are you familiar with the tier of drugs? Seriously, I think it should be tears of drugs. By the time I got to figuring out what I needed, I was positively sobbing.

And they send you a card for Medicare like you would get for any insurance plan. It has your social security number on it! Hasn’t the government ever heard of identity theft? Sure, I’ll just carry that with me everywhere…

Bottom line tips:

  • Find a doctor before you turn 65 who takes Medicare patients. After this nightmare you don’t want to have to pick a new doctor, too.
  • Find an insurance specialist who handles this kind of stuff and start talking with them before you need it. It will save you from the same PTSD.

5 Things I Know For Sure

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I’ve had a few years’ experience in my life. I mean, I won’t say I am a wizened ancient (quite yet) but I think I’ve picked up a few things along the way. These are just some truths, at least for me, which I feel could apply to anyone.

I know for sure:

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The Blessings of Housemates: When Community Becomes More

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Just over a month ago, on July 11th, the article in the New York Times was published. I spent the weekend basking in the glow of the new attention being paid to the Women for Living in Community movement.

But that all changed on Monday.

I woke up to neck and arm pain so excruciating, I immediately thought it may be a stroke or heart attack. My pain was similar to the warning signs of women in my age group. The more I writhed around on the floor in intense pain the more I realized that I needed help. Because of my shared household, help was only 5 feet away in our common kitchen where my housemate was standing.

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Women For Living In Community: Mother’s Day

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“To my mom, Betty Jane Martin, who was a woman before her time. She was my hero and she continues inspiring me to find new ways to help others to age with grace and dignity.”

This is from the dedication page in my new book, Your Quest for Home. I wrote my book to honor my mother, Betty Jane Martin, and her memory and legacy.

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Women For Living in Community