Q: Could you please get my husband to clean out his wallet? He thinks he needs all that stuff in there.
A: Well this is not a usual topic for me, but I love this question. No, I will not clean out your husband's wallet, but I will offer some advice. This advice applies to both men and women. I am always amazed at how much stuff people can put into that small container called "a wallet."
First, I advise, cleaning off a spot on the table and dump or take out everything from your wallet. Next sort out the things you must have in there: your driver's license or ID; your insurance cards; your cash; your credit cards that you are currently using; your emergency contacts (ideally health care proxy) and your list of current medications. These items should be placed back in your wallet. But before you put them back in your wallet, look at them, are they current or have they expired? Check your medication list is it what you are actually taking right now, or does it need to be updated? For your emergency contact, are their numbers/addresses still accurate?
Now onto the rest of the stuff on your table: Those little pieces of paper with phone numbers, addresses and names on it. Is there a better way of organizing this information? Could you use a small notebook with this information, or a list of these numbers on a bigger piece of paper, that would be easier to keep track of? Or do you not even remember who these people are and why they are in there? Your appointment cards, do you have those dates written on a calendar so you remember to go? Your credit card receipts, this probably isn't the safest place to keep them. Put them in your files, after you match them to your credit card bill.
Next there are those membership cards, you know to the Eagles, the Legion, the NRA, AARP, library cards, etc. How many of each of those do you have? Do you really need four (4) AARP cards in your wallet? I know they send you that many, but you don't have to carry them all with you. Sort those out, keep the most current, put an extra one in your files so you have a backup and destroy the rest.
Now I bet that pile of stuff on the table is much smaller. The rest is maybe stuff that at one time you needed in your wallet, but you probably don't need it there all the time. Put it in your files or the kitchen junk drawer or throw it away. There doesn't that feel better? Now when you go to find a card in your wallet you will be able to. We all put stuff in there and then never remove it. We should make this a semi-annual event don't you think?
As individuals retire or age into Medicare, their insurance situation can change dramatically. There are a multitude of options open to those with Medicare. The terms are different, the prices are different, the products offered are dramatically different each year.
The purpose of this column is to give those who are eligible for Medicare, or soon to be eligible for Medicare, some understanding of their insurance options and how it could impact their health and finances.
These questions and answers are meant as a guide to help you understand the complex questions you are now thinking about. Each individual's specific situation may create a different solution. You shouldn't necessarily do what your friends, family and neighbors do.
Another few tips I would offer. Get a photocopy of the front and back of all your credit cards. That way if they get lost you know what credit cards you have and how to contact the companies if you lose them. Put this photocopy in a lockbox in your home or in your files.
Now, ladies, do you think we should do the same thing with our purses? Well, maybe save that for after lunch; that is a pretty big project. But the advice there holds to the same process as the wallet. Good luck and enjoy the lightened load.
Janell Sluga is a geriatric care manager certified and works for Senior Life Matters, a program of Lutheran Senior Housing, and has worked in Chautauqua County with seniors for more than 18 years. She is HIICAP (Health Insurance Information, Counseling & Assistance Program) counselor-trained by Office for the Aging. She does not sell insurance or represent any insurance company. She is an unbiased source of insurance and education to help seniors choose the best option for them.
You may submit questions to be answered in later columns to Janell Sluga at Senior Life Matters, 737 Falconer St., Jamestown, NY 14701, or call 716-720-9797, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please remember that not all questions can be answered in this format, but as many as can be, will be.